Thursday, November 4, 2010

Deo or No Deo?

When it comes to spotting social trends the New York Times is the working definition of Type I error. So I was inclined to ignore this Fashion & Style section story on deo-abstainers as just another false positive.

But two days later the Guardian reports that in Britain “a growing number of people are cutting down on daily showering and hair-washing.” (Funny, I thought they’d done that years ago . . .)

Maybe there is something going on here. Or not. Looks like overpaid and underviewed CBS News anchor Katie Couric got the ball rolling a few days earlier in a fluffy interview with Howard Kurtz:
That’s why Couric has spent recent weeks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is touring what she calls “this great unwashed middle of the country” in an effort to divine the mood of the midterms.
(Philly, Boston and New Brunswick are the middle of the country? Talk about a provincial Manhatta-centric worldview.)

Here’s a FirstNerve trend projection: the anti-fragrance forces can’t win with a purely negative story. What we are seeing here is the birth of the required complementary story: the positive spin that BO is beautiful. (Have fewer kids. Drive less. Eat less. Flush less. Shower less. Use less deodorant.)

Expect to see more such stories. Expect Bono to lead by example. Expect a movie.


Olfacta said...

Hey, great new picture!

I'm pretty sure that the leaders of the no-deo movement were sitting in front of us on the plane back from New York.

Avery Gilbert said...


I should tell everyone that the fine new photo was taken in McSorley's by none other thanMr. Olfacta.

Too bad about your flight home. I once flew NY to SF behind a young English couple who for the entire trip were shamelessly, if not morbidly, flatulent. To top it off, they were playing a video game as we crossed the magnificent Sierra Nevada and descended into a golden sunset reflecting off the waters of the Sacramento delta.

Oblivious doesn't begin to capture it.

Olfacta said...

Hi Avery -- Well, there was that, too. The flatulence, I mean. The worst flight smellscape I remember (and there have been plenty, believe me) was from Madrid to Frankfurt when several North African guys got on at the last minute. I know, I know, they probably don't have access to a shower but they smelled like they hadn't bathed in -- literally -- years. Then there was the guy next to us on an LA -Atl fully-packed 767 with a sinus infection who loudly snorted back his nasal contents, oh, every ten seconds or so for 4 1/2 hours...flying is just torture now.

Hey no worries about photo credit -- I just like the picture, and Mr. Olfacta is happy!

Ross said...

So Ms Palmer goes about her day with lemons and a sharp knife. Some how this is not a pretty picture.

Avery Gilbert said...


I'd also think twice about heading over to Ms. Palmer's for tequila shots . . .

Ross said...

It takes a lot for a society/culture/country to get to the point where being able to take a bath on a daily basis is pretty much a given for most of its population. Amoust other things perfume has had a leading roll in masking that this might not be the case. So some how we have now arrived at the point where, as a society we can clean our selves but have decided that it is healthier not to.Living in Berkeley, I get to experience the "fall out" from this style of thinking. I get it if you are homeless, no choice. But if you are not...what are you thinking. Actually what I am thinking is along the lines of WTF.

Hélène said...

In hopes my post isn't one that "stinks up the joint" (as you so aptly put it for this blog at least LOL) I do have to say that you being a scientist of things olfactory makes me want to assure you that: 1. once you stop using traditional shampoo and deo your body stops (over)reacting to said products so your stink potential decreases immensely and 2. we no-poo-ers and no-deo ppl do indeed use soap on the pits and something on our scalps also (well, once or so a week anyway being average for scalp needs). Some get to the point where the pit-soap isn't needed even. I'm not 1 of those...yet (just started my n=1 fairly recently) I trust you are familiar enough with the world of Google to learn the details if you wish. And I highly encourage you to do so! :)