No, Tell Me How You Really Feel About Perfume

Unlike other style choices such as clothing or jewellery, perfume affects everyone in the wearer's vicinity without giving them any choice in the matter, which makes an individual's use of perfume a matter of public concern, so let me go on about it, yes? I apparently have a sizeable bee in my bonnet about it today.

There are three main reasons not to wear perfume:
  1. Many people are allergic to perfume. When a person wears perfume, they force everything from mild congestion to severe migraines to nausea and body rashes on others.
  2. Allergies aside, some people simply don't like perfumes. A perfume wearer chooses to alienate people for no reason other than their use of an unnecessary product.
  3. Wearing perfume creates a forced physical interaction between the wearer and everyone near enough to smell them. If someone doesn't like a person's clothing or make-up, they can look away, but if they don't appreciate the way that person smells, they can't choose not to experience it. Not to put too fine a point on it, one person's pretty perfume is someone else's unwelcome physical assault.

People who are aware of how common the dislike of and allergies to perfumes are and yet continue to wear perfume are not-so-passively committing physical assault. Yes, physical assault. Even if you claim to wear a minimal amount, any amount can be enough to inadvertently hurt and bother other people in the same or neighbouring spaces.

I should know. Other people's choices to wear perfume means that I have to take a strong antihistamine coupled with sinus cold medication at least an hour before leaving the house just to avoid tear-inducing headaches and congestion. I have gone out to dinner only to be left unable to taste any of my food because someone at the next table was wearing perfume. I have lost sales to my co-workers at the shoe store because I have been unable to be near certain customers without crying. I had a headache and/or severe sinus congestion every day for three years straight when I worked in an office that did not enforce its anti-scent policy with my co-workers. Other people's choices to wear perfume means that I spend in excess of $50 a month on medications that would otherwise be unnecessary.

Some perfumes smell nice, and not all perfumes affect everyone so strongly, but all perfumes have the potential to assault someone, regardless of how little is worn or how brief the encounter is.

And it's not only in the interest of those who are irritated by or allergic to perfume that people should stop wearing it. Wearing perfume to a job interview can take you out of the running if the interviewer is annoyed by your scent. It's happened in places where I've worked. Potential friends and lovers cease being potential when their perfume makes being close unpalatable. A wearer can end up receiving poorer service in restaurants and stores if the waiter or salesperson is bothered by the smell. There are more negatives associated with perfume use than positives.

In closing, if you believe anything that I've written above, and, IF YOU RESPECT THE HEALTH AND COMFORT OF OTHER PEOPLE, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO STOP WEARING PERFUME.

The End.


PS. I'm just irritated because one of my customers last night was wearing perfume that left my sinuses completely closed off and gave me a headache. I wasn't able to breathe well while I slept all last night.

PPS. Also, I feel like a crotchety old lady with a heavy dose of the bitter today.

PPPS. Why do some people think it is important to make sure that I can smell them? That's weird. I don't want to smell strangers. I don't even usually want to smell people I know.

PPPPS. When I'm in this kind of mood, I feel like I'm playing a game of chicken with the internet. I'll stop now.

PPPPPS. One more. I just remembered a terrible joke that my cousin told me once when he was four years old:

Why do women wear makeup and perfume? Because they're ugly and they smell bad.

And then he told me I must be really ugly. What a sweetheart.

PPPPPPS. I just can't stop, because I have to tell you where some of those scents are coming from: castoreum that is milked from the odorous sacs of the North American beaver, petrified excrement of the rock hyrax, deer musk that is milked from the musk sacs of the Asian musk deer, and lumps of oxidized fatty compounds derived from sperm whale secretions. YUM.

PPPPPPPS. This is not an issue of whether you wear it lightly or marinate in it. It's that it is worn at all. The effect of a person's perfume often swells my sinuses completely shut before I'm even aware of the smell. The only way to avoid bothering others is to not wear perfume at all.

Five Star Friday's 169th Edition Is Brought to You By Sylvia Plath

The Palinode Speaking At Chicken & Wine