Working Papers

The Gittinomics of Stink

Ross Gittins wants you to wash less and stink more:

In the old days, if you got a bit sweaty you allowed the sweat to dry and thought nothing of it. These days, many people can’t rest until they’ve showered.

And then there’s underarm body odour. It’s completely and utterly natural, we all have it, but since the spread of deodorant we’ve convinced ourselves it’s offensive and a sign of ill-breeding.

So, much of our incessant showering arises not from a desire to be clean but from a relatively modern desire not to have a smell. I suspect many people have a quite exaggerated notion of the extent to which they smell - or would smell if they didn’t take as many showers as they do.

Many of us feel a social obligation to maintain what we believe to be the prevailing standard of personal washedness.


posted on 26 March 2008 by skirchner in Economics

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