Author Topic: I know you're clean... but you still smell  (Read 7481 times)

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Moray

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2013, 11:46:31 AM »
Some old people have a very distinct smell.  It's almost a musty smell, crossed with slightly rancid undertones, if that helps describe it.  Sometimes baby powder is layered over the top for an interesting mix.  I've smelled it with several older people over the years, and it's been similar each time.

See, that's what I originally pictured (mentally smelled?), too, but the OP says it's not from hygeine and that musty smell is from not just old age and changing body chemistry, but from lack of bathing or ineffective bathing.
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Yvaine

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2013, 11:51:26 AM »
Yeah, I'm wondering if this might just be a soap or perfume scent that's not in style. Trends in perfumes come and go, and people tend to stick with what they liked when they were young, so some older women will keep wearing perfumes that are not in style, but there isn't anything actually wrong with these scents. They're just associated with older people in our minds because the majority of the people still using them are older.

Zilla

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2013, 11:53:03 AM »
Is her "smell" enveloping the entire classroom?  Can you not just sit away from her?  I would ignore it since you had once before and it wasn't received well.  If it bothers you that much, I would approach the teacher and let them handle it.

amylouky

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2013, 11:58:01 AM »
I'm of the opinion that it is neither your right nor your responsibility to comment on how she smells. Even if it were due to hygiene, it doesn't sound like she's a close enough friend to you for that to be remotely appropriate. Unless you have a true allergic reaction to a perfume/scent she is wearing, how she smells is really not your concern and I think it would be very rude to bring it up. I do think your intentions are okay, since you seem to want to spare her embarrassment, but I don't think there's any non-rude way to comment on someone's smell.

rose red

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2013, 12:31:13 PM »
I know what "old person" smell is like and always assumed it's from medicine or ointment cream.  People need that stuff so I would not say anything in case it's those things. 

Even if it's BO, you can have a discreet word to HR if it was a work situation.  I don't know if there is a school equivalent to an HR (teacher? counselor? nurse?)  But I'd be really hesitant to talk directly to a classmate who you are not close to.

Eeep!

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2013, 12:34:46 PM »
I'm wondering if it could be a body chemistry thing. When we were first dating, my DH would sometimes come to church with us. He would be all dressed up nice but he would smell like he had been drinking! I was very perplexed by this as I didn't think it was THAT stressful to go to church with us. ;)  I finally figured out that, for whatever reason, Polo cologne + DH's body chemistry = alcohol smell. Heh.
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cwm

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2013, 01:30:07 PM »
Even with the friendly and compassionate route, it may not change anything. We're regulars at a restaurant, and there's an elderly woman who comes in at the same time with her family. She smells like she bathes in perfume, and it's overwhelming. Even the owner of the restaurant has noticed it and doesn't like it, but she doesn't do anything about it because it's not impacting her bottom line as a business, and it's not her place otherwise to comment.

My uncle one day left a note for them that politely said that she had a distinct odor of perfume, and that while nearly nobody was polite enough to mention it, it was quite strong. (Yes, what he did wasn't polite, but my uncle has never been strong in etiquette and social norms, and he did it as kindly as he could.) For a few weeks it worked, she showed up and while there was still a whiff of perfume when she walked by, it wasn't bad at all. But then the next week it was back to perfume bath scent. It's to the point where we have to pick our tables based on where they're likely to fit and how far away we can get from them because it's setting off my sister's allergies to be too close to them, but short of repeating ourselves every time it starts up again, there's nothing we can do. We've said our piece, made the other party aware of it, and now we're just doing what we can do enjoy ourselves at dinner.

LadyL

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2013, 02:20:10 PM »
Could the smell possibly be moth balls from wearing clothing that's been in storage? Sometimes people associate the smell with "grandma's attic" so it's kind of an old person smell. When it's heavy, it's very chemical and off putting, and when it's moderate it's kind of mildewey or artificially mossy smelling (to my nose at least).

DavidH

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2013, 02:28:06 PM »
I don't think there is really a nice way to say you smell to someone and I would avoid it unless it's a close friend.  I associate the old people smell with moth balls and certain out of date scents, rather like some Yankee Candles, but that's just me.  I understand what you're trying to say and think you mean well, but the message of wow, your choice of fragrance is really offputting is just never going to be seen as polite.

SleepyKitty

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2013, 02:38:46 PM »
I'm of the opinion that it is neither your right nor your responsibility to comment on how she smells. Even if it were due to hygiene, it doesn't sound like she's a close enough friend to you for that to be remotely appropriate. Unless you have a true allergic reaction to a perfume/scent she is wearing, how she smells is really not your concern and I think it would be very rude to bring it up. I do think your intentions are okay, since you seem to want to spare her embarrassment, but I don't think there's any non-rude way to comment on someone's smell.

Normally I would agree with this, but in this specific case I think OP (or someone in the class, anyway) does have a right to bring it up. That doesn't mean I know how to do it politely, since this is a particularly delicate situation. ;D But, while OP doesn't say how many people have commented, the impression I got was that multiple people have been disturbed by the girl's odor. Whether or not it's due to BO or to a scent - and what that scent is - doesn't really matter too much to me in this situation. After a certain point, I believe the people around her do have a right to ask her to reasonably limit whatever she's wearing. If she was doused in heavy perfume, as a previous poster described, I don't think one needs a medical reason to ask her to cut back on it. I'm not allergic, but I still wouldn't tolerate being in a classroom that I couldn't breathe in because one person wants to use half a bottle of perfume. (And I think the fact it's a classroom is relevant, in this case, since eating in a restaurant is voluntary, but attending class isn't.)

It's a tough line to draw - if 5 people are disturbed, is that enough? 10? All 17? How strong does the smell have to be before it becomes a genuine disturbance as opposed to an annoyance? But there comes a point where an individual's right to wear scent (or BO or whatever the smell is) becomes trumped by the others who have to share space with her. How she smells *is* OP's concern, and the concern of the other people in the classroom, since they have no choice but to be in the environment with her. That doesn't mean it's always appropriate to take action, but I did want to offer another viewpoint on the issue of one's right to speak up.

Isilleke

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2013, 03:42:51 PM »
Hi,

OP here again. To clarify some things.

1. It wasn't me who smelled in high school, but a friend of mine.
    Although my sister did comment once that I smelled (in the middle of summer and on a day I hadn't showered yet)
    and ever since I really really am very focused on not smelling bad which is why I'm very reluctant to say
    anything.

2. I don't really know to explain the smell, it's just that for me it smells exactly like my grandparents.

3. I'm assuming it is something like a product she uses or the combination with her own scent. For me personally, as
    long as someone is clean, I wouldn't say anything. But more and more people in the class are starting to comment on
    it and that's a shame, I think.

At the moment it's about half the class that is starting to notice.

LadyJaneinMD

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2013, 11:03:12 AM »
Here's an idea that nobody has thought of yet, and it came up for me recently.

I bought (on sale) a cotton/spandex t-shirt that I *really* like, and have worn it 3 times.  Every time, by the end of the day, I've noticed that I *smell* like I haven't bathed in a couple of days.  It's very similar to what you are describing as 'old person' smell.     So I asked some very knowledgable friends of mine about it.
Turns out, when spandex gets old, it starts to break down, and that's the smell that it gives off!   I have some cotton/spandex bras too, with the same smell (after my body heat warms them up), but I thought that was me.  This shirt confirms that it's the spandex.  Remember, the shirt was already old when I bought it, because it was in clearance.

So.....this clean person who smells might be wearing something made with 'old' spandex.  However, I have no clue how you'd bring this up with them.

Meanwhile, I have to figure out how to copy this t-shirt becasue I love the way it fits, but can't wear it because of the smell.  There's no fix for the smell, unless I start bathing in perfume, and that brings up a whole 'nother problem.

MorgnsGrl

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2013, 11:44:04 AM »
Random and a little OT, but at one point I kept smelling something funky and I thought it was my clothes but I couldn't figure out why. I finally realized it was my fabric ponytail holder, which I kept putting on when my hair was still damp.

Yvaine

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2013, 12:01:19 PM »
This doesn't really apply since it was in a home, but for a while last year I first thought my dog, and then I, was exuding some kind of awful smell, and finally figured out the neighbor (the walls were really thin--I could also smell whenever she smoked) was cooking something with a really strong scent.

thedudeabides

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2013, 12:13:48 PM »
I don't feel like there's any polite way to tell someone what amounts to "We don't like the way you smell because it reminds us of old people."