Stinky‌ ‌Phobia:‌ ‌Are‌ ‌teenagers‌ ‌really‌ ‌afraid‌ ‌of‌ ‌stinkiness?‌ ‌


Eugene Bang, Reporter

Admit it. Whenever you wake up in the morning, you have a little routine going to freshen up your day. You might take a morning shower, put on some deodorant, and you might even wear a little perfume or cologne to really add that extra spice. And what are all those things going to do? Make you smell better. And it really seems like the people who care most about smelling good are young people. A statistic featured by YouGovAmerica shows that “those aged 18 to 34 are also the most likely to shower or bathe twice a day or more” (Gammon). And while the topic of stinkiness isn’t brought up that much, a lot of people probably have that inner fear of not only smelling bad, but having to smell somebody else who’s got a terrible stench. 

The true fear that people have doesn’t come from a fear of being outright stinky, but rather a fear of the humiliation that might come from being stinky. Our society really likes to judge people for pretty much everything: height, physical appearance, and certainly the way you smell. If people didn’t have to worry so much about others making fun of them if they happened to smell, then nobody would really care about being super hygienic. Yet according to a survey that was collected from a small pool of UHS students, 94% of them say they wear deodorant every day, and 70% say they shower every day too. For the purpose of just being clean, is it really necessary to have to shower every single day? Probably not. But this article isn’t just about being afraid of your own stench. It’s also about whether people are afraid of other people’s stench. 

JoAnnie Shia, currently a senior at Urbana, says that even if she had a super stinky person sit right next to her every single day at school, she “wouldn’t say anything because I wouldn’t want to embarrass them.”

And her non-confrontational method is represented by the poll collected from UHS students. According to that same poll, while 83% of people said they strongly dislike human body odor from other people, only 41% said they would actually address someone about their stench. It seems that while most people are annoyed about BO, nobody is actually blunt enough to confront somebody about it. 

Even Christyn Sappe, grade 12, says that the most she would ever do is “ask the teacher to move seats” if ever confined to a small space with a funky peer. 

And that’s what really confuses me. If our society is so prone to humiliating people for every little thing, and we all obviously hate human body odor, then why is barely anybody actually willing to do anything about it? 

Summer Hacker, grade 11, puts it best. She says that even when you’re dealing with a stinky person, you should try and “be polite because you don’t know what goes on in those people’s homes.”

Many people don’t have the luxury to be able to bathe every single day, wash their clothes on a regular basis, or buy new clothing to wear. On top of that, many people just have very active lifestyles that just naturally cause them to build up a body odor. And there’s really nothing they can do about it. As long as people can understand what others go through and continue to remain non-confrontational, then I don’t really think we have much to worry about stinky phobia. 



Gammon, Jake. “United States of bad hygiene and habits.” YouGovAmerica, 14 July 2014, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

Woman disgusted by smell of armpit. SweatBlock, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.