Author Topic: I know you're clean... but you still smell  (Read 7162 times)

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amylouky

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2013, 01:16:37 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.

You just reminded me of an argument DH and I had a loooong time ago when we were apartment dwellers. We kept accusing each other of passing gas, because our entire apartment smelled like, well, gas. Only to find out the truth about an hour later, when our neighbor knocked on our door to see if we wanted to try the chitlins she was cooking for a special occasion. We politely declined (no offense intended to anyone who likes them, I get that it's an acquired taste).

Bijou

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2013, 01:26:22 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.
I agree with what you say here and if I were the OP I would wonder if I am not taking on too much responsibility that is not mine, since this has happened to her not just this once, but another time when she did actually say something to the person.   Sometimes without meaning to we can give ourselves the job as the 'whatever' police and that can lead to stress on relationships (even casual ones as in the original post).
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 01:33:17 PM by Bijou »
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TootsNYC

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2013, 01:45:59 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."

No, but there *IS* a polite way to tell someone, "I've noticed that an odor is clinging to you often, and I wanted you to know."

That spandex thing is interesting! And that might be something the OP could mention, that she's heard recently of the concept that old spandex in bras can off-gas and create an odor.

kherbert05

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2013, 10:44:16 PM »
You might be doing her a favor, a hard one but a favor. When I was in University the docs wanted me to use a particular product to bath with for my skin. Then another product after bathing. The combo of the two and my body chemistry created caused problems. A dorm mate let me know that it was a problem (Cedar fever I couldn't smell much of anything).
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Need to Change

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2013, 01:55:48 AM »
I have no idea how this can be done politely.  Don't know what is meant by an "old people" smell, but I wonder if it could be caused by a skin condition, or meds/ointments used for a skin condition, or both?

Meds for other conditions can sometimes cause body odors as well.  So can medical conditions by themselves, for that matter.

If any of these are behind the smell, then a confrontation would be (unintentionally) cruel.  This classmate may not be able to change a thing.

Iris

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2013, 03:45:52 AM »
I do know what you mean by old people smell, but I'm not sure how you could deal with this situation politely. The two explanations I have had advanced for that odour is firstly, that the elderly are more likely to be on a cocktail of different drugs and therefore have unpredictable reactions with their body chemistry. Secondly that it could be incontinence pads that they may be unable to change as quickly as they would like. Neither of these would be things that I would care to mention to someone.

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crella

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2013, 06:27:42 AM »
Japanese scientists discovered a protein that some (not all) older people excrete and it has a distinct aroma.

Quote
In the April 2001 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Shinichiro Haze, et al. published an article entitled: "2-Nonenal, Newly Found in Human Body Odor Tends to Increase with Aging".[4]

In this article they reported on their work which involved the analysis of body odor components collected via headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, from shirts worn for three days by subjects between the ages of 26 and 75. They found that the concentration of many components of body odor were unaffected by age. They found that the concentration of 2-nonenal tended to increase with the age of the subjects, and determined that that 2-nonenal is generated by the oxidative degradation of omega-7 unsaturated fatty acids, such as palmitoleic acid and vaccenic acid, found on the skin surface.

The smell is called 'kareishu' in Japanese  or 'increasing age odor'. We have a bunch of soaps and fabric softeners to combat it. It is a musty and perhaps oily (skin oil) type of smell.  Some menopausal women emit the odor as well, so it's not exclusively an elderly thing.

The girl in the OP is too young. On some people, orchid or gardenia scents can turn strange depending on body chemistry. It could be something like that.

scotcat60

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2013, 06:28:59 AM »
"What perfume do you use? It's very distinctive." might be an opening.

Some perfumes smell dreadful on people. I once shared a car with my SIL's sister, and her perfume smelled like burning rubber to me, but obviously not to her.

Isilleke

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell (#25, #38)
« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2013, 06:51:10 AM »
Since so many people were unsure about what I meant with old people smell, I started to think that maybe it's something else. So it hit me that my grandfather and her both have diabetes. I have just now looked it up and apparently it's possible that it changes the way you smell.

I'm now inclined to believe it has something to do with this (and for me this smell will always be coupled with my grandfather) and because of this I have decided I will do nothing. If and/or when people comment I will simply tell them that I know she's very clean.

"What perfume do you use? It's very distinctive." might be an opening.

Some perfumes smell dreadful on people. I once shared a car with my SIL's sister, and her perfume smelled like burning rubber to me, but obviously not to her.
Coincidentally, I had the same thing! I was with my best friend and was smelling wet dog all the time. Luckily I didn't say anything, because it turned out to be her new perfume!

oogyda

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2013, 10:44:26 AM »
I don't really think you should say anything.  I also don't think it should be a topic of discussion among so many people. 

A while ago, I noticed an unpleasant odor on a woman I dealt with weekly.  She was the secretary of a group, and the smell would attach to the paperwork she distributed as well as surround her.  To me, it smelled like mold.  After a few weeks, I figured out that it was her hand lotion that was the base of the problem and wondered if perhaps her lotion had gotten "old".  Nope.  I checked it out at the store, and that's what it smelled like new. 

Come to find out, other women in the group also disliked the smell, but none of us thought it would be right for us or anyone to ask her to stop wearing it.  I wish I could remember more of that conversation and how we came to that conclusion so that I could pass on the wisdom of that group, but it all boils down to.....you shouldn't say anything. 
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Shoo

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #40 on: June 07, 2013, 10:48:56 AM »
I know someone who had a dog that had accidents on her bedroom carpet.  She used a certain deodorizing spray on the stains.  It was some special spray that was supposed to neutralize the odors.  She used this spray so much that before long, every single thing in her bedroom started absorbing the smell of it.  It was this sweet, sickly smell, and because she had grown so accustomed to it (the frog in the pot thing), she didn't even notice it.  But it was in her hair, in her clothing, on her skin, on every thing she owned.  Her back pack, her purse.  Everything.

Something like this could be happening with this woman.

Yvaine

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #41 on: June 07, 2013, 11:07:28 AM »
I have no idea how this can be done politely.  Don't know what is meant by an "old people" smell, but I wonder if it could be caused by a skin condition, or meds/ointments used for a skin condition, or both?

This is another possibility. I had to use an ointment once that stank--just sort of an unpleasant medicinal smell. It was only for about a month but that was way too long for my nose. Yuk!

Lynn2000

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #42 on: June 07, 2013, 06:35:45 PM »
OP, sounds like you've decided to say nothing, which in this case I think is the way to go, since it doesn't really bother you personally. If other people are super-bothered by it, while trying to concentrate in a classroom they all have to be in, they can come to eHell and ask for advice on wording. :)

I think it might be a little odd to assure someone else who's complaining that you "know the person is clean." I guess I'm not sure how you would really know that. Maybe you could just say, "Oh? It doesn't really bother me."

With a close friend I think you could say something, but it doesn't sound like you're really that close; I don't know, obviously, if someone else in the class is close friends with her, and thus better placed to discreetly mention it.
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KB

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #43 on: June 07, 2013, 07:45:01 PM »
I don't really think you should say anything.  I also don't think it should be a topic of discussion among so many people. 

A while ago, I noticed an unpleasant odor on a woman I dealt with weekly.  She was the secretary of a group, and the smell would attach to the paperwork she distributed as well as surround her.  To me, it smelled like mold.  After a few weeks, I figured out that it was her hand lotion that was the base of the problem and wondered if perhaps her lotion had gotten "old".  Nope.  I checked it out at the store, and that's what it smelled like new. 

Come to find out, other women in the group also disliked the smell, but none of us thought it would be right for us or anyone to ask her to stop wearing it.  I wish I could remember more of that conversation and how we came to that conclusion so that I could pass on the wisdom of that group, but it all boils down to.....you shouldn't say anything.

See, that situation has an easier solution IMHO. When that lady is around, you can offer some of your own hand lotion to those around you, including the lady whose smell you don't like. Praise your cream to the skies. Explain how it has helped your cuticles or your dry skin or whatever. (Prewarn your colleagues so they can express enthusiasm rather than distaste.) If things go well, you may be able to persuade the other lady to switch from her brand to something less offensively scented.

VorFemme

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Re: I know you're clean... but you still smell
« Reply #44 on: June 07, 2013, 10:48:49 PM »
Since so many people were unsure about what I meant with old people smell, I started to think that maybe it's something else. So it hit me that my grandfather and her both have diabetes. I have just now looked it up and apparently it's possible that it changes the way you smell.

I'm now inclined to believe it has something to do with this (and for me this smell will always be coupled with my grandfather) and because of this I have decided I will do nothing. If and/or when people comment I will simply tell them that I know she's very clean.

"What perfume do you use? It's very distinctive." might be an opening.

Some perfumes smell dreadful on people. I once shared a car with my SIL's sister, and her perfume smelled like burning rubber to me, but obviously not to her.
Coincidentally, I had the same thing! I was with my best friend and was smelling wet dog all the time. Luckily I didn't say anything, because it turned out to be her new perfume!

A smell of over-ripe apple (or even rotting apple) used to be a way to spot a diabetic - back in the 1940s or so.....(mentioned in a Cherry Ames novel after she'd gotten back from the war - WWII).  I remember that it was the diabetic's breath, not their underarms or clothing,though.

A smell as of bread is an odor of starvation - or prolonged fasting for various reasons - it is referenced in the Bible when Jesus tells people who are fasting to hide that by washing, changing clothing, and not mentioning that they are fasting.....because only God needs to know if they are doing it for religious reasons instead of "showing off" for those around them.  That might be more noticeable in the armpits, because some of it is coming out of the sweat glands.

I don't know what "old people" odor is - but either of those two would have a medical basis.....
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 10:51:20 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?