Judging people for their smell

Life has always its ways to teach me that I cannot judge other people without paying a closer look at their situation. As much as we call for tolerance to others regardless of what feature they have we dislike, we always fall into hurting other people for no apparent reason except our own fear and ignorance.

This time the lesson came from Tyra on her show, where she showed me that even judging people for how they smell (which I am guilty of, along with most of other people) can be a big mistake. While we usually jump to conclude that people with bad smell must have a hygine problem, and while this might be true in a lot of cases, it isn’t always true.

She showed two cases of two beautiful women, one had a body odor problem, and the other a breath scent problem. Both tried ever possible mean to get rid of the bad smell in their bodies but always failed. The first lady with the body odor problem, tried taking bath for several times a day, changing her clothes so frequent, and filling herself with perfume, but nothing worked out. She then was diagnosis of having a disease that has no real treatment. Her only way to reduce its simptoms is to adhere to a strict diet of having no protein whatsoever in her food. She quit her job and no locked in her own house so that not to offend people with her scent!

The second lady with breath scent problem washes her mouth 12 times a day. She tried every possible drug in the pharmacy that can be used in cleaning one’s mouth, and even uses a diluted bleach as a drastic measure to remove the bad smell, but nothing helped her! On the show, she was not comfortable of having Tyra sitting next to her so that she wont smell her bad breath. She always uses this technique of keeping a distance between her and people she talks to so that she wont offend them! She even tried to commit suicide at one point.

Smell is just like any other feature we judge people on. It is always the other person’s shortage when he doesn’t meet our expectations. We simplify it to “That person is BAD”, while what is really bad is our ignorance, and how we really hurt people for something out of their hands.

So what if you smelled a bad smell? I know that sometimes it can be so bad where you can’t handle it, but I am sure that there is always a way to handle such situations, and it won’t be that bad if you just tried to get used to it instead of hurting people deeply for them just being diseased.

It is ironic how some diseases get sympathy of people, while others get hatred. It is all lies in how much we know, which would make it wise to try always to take a moment and think before we judge, and try to be more compassionate with each other because you never know when an unknown disease might hit you.


  1. This is a smart post observer.And yes,hurting people’s feelings for any reason is wrong, but when it comes to smell. I never say anything, but I just can’t help it, it does affect how I feel about that person, and how I accept him/her.I came to learn that beyond what people wear (colognes and perfumes) they also have the body odor, and you are right we should not discriminate those with diseases… But for gods sake… these diseases are rare… And those with bad hygiene should be avoided… so they learn the lesson… And take more showers… and change their cloths every day!!!


  2. God knows that we come across people with different smells and scents every single day.. For me personally it doesn’t even have to be a body odor,sometimes certain perfumes that people wear make me nauseous and really sick but no matter what and regardless on what the cause of the smell I can never, never be rude or hurt somebody’s feeling..Who am I to judge ?? unless it is someone who am going to live with,then we find a way to deal with it,otherwise I keep quite, if it doesn’t kill me am fine..


  3. The people you are talking about are very rare and most of the time it is just a hygienic problem.People with these diseases or natural body mechanisms try to cover up themselves and it shows that it is not their fault. Whereas people who smell because they were drunk, had sex, didn’t shower and go to work (yes true) obviously have issues


  4. I fully agree with “life” and “KJ”I hate some other smells like the smell of the kuwaiti 3anbar. There was this girl who always sits in front of me in the biology class who makes me nauseous with her 3anbar smell.


  5. life, I understand how hard it would be being around someone with a bad smell and even if it is true that such diseases are rare (they may be not, but not still discovered) we still can’t distinguish between those with a disease and others with only a hygiene problem.And even if it is a hygiene problem, people have different reasons for not being able to have a better hygiene. We all seek the best in terms of our hygiene. Those who can accomply with standards might have things out of their hands as well to prevent them of doing so, right?Noura, very well said, who are we to judge? we may have other shortages that dont comply with people’s expecttions! If it doesnt kill us, we should be fine. I liked this line 🙂KJ, it is a relative matter as well. Most people dont smell their bad odor. If things can be changed easily, then people can point it out in a delicate way. If it cant, then why kill them with our prejudice? We can take a bit of bad smell, if it doesnt kill us as Noura said…Hamza, see? we even percieve smells differently. Some people like certain smell that others can’t stand. Why don’t just try to be more tolerant to smells we dislike?


  6. Thanks for the interesting post. We really really have to control our expression whenver we smell or see something repuslvie in a person. Most of the time that person knows what’s wromg with him and feels very upset about it but the distress gets much worse when s/he sees the frustration on other people’s faces. A lotttt of times patients I see just defecate while I talk to them and they can’t control it and the smell is HORRIBLE, somehow i got used to that!


  7. yeah will the real question is when ur around a persone who smill’s bad , do u till him or u just keep it to ur self and try to cope with it ?for me i do the 2nd or make small hints not to make him/here uncomfortable but aware of the condition.what do u think ?Murad


  8. I did my masters in human genetics and I just had to respond to this one. There’s quite a few genetic disorders that cause a person to have a distinct smell, sometimes it’s rather bad and sometimes it’s faint. Patients that have isovaleric acidemia smell like “sweaty socks”. When PKU is untreated patients have a musty odor, and there’s one disorder where the patients actually smell like fish (can’t remember the name). Individiually they’re rather rare but it’s something to be kept in mind.However I do agree with the other posters that usually bad smells are due to hygiene. If the person is clearly self conscious and trying to keep a distance then I would think it’s something more out of their control and I try not to be judgemental about that; however if you’re at a wedding and you’re in the middle of the dance floor arms raised all the way up in the air as you’re jumping all over the place and zaghriting while your children are crying with their snotty noses and untied shoe laces and I can smell your BO from 10 feet away I doubt you have a disorder and I’ll be staying away from you!


  9. hareega, I am glad you like it. You being a doctor yourself knows better than us of how our bodies bring out some bad smells which sometimes are really out of our hands. It is good to hear how you treat your patients 🙂Murad, yes, I do the same, I don’t mention it. It is a no no to me because I know how embarrassing it would be, unless the person is a close one to me where we are used to such comments, like my little brother or close friend.amma15, Thanks for your input. It is good to have a professional opinion. So it is true that there are such diseases. They seem to be rare, but how rare are they really? and what is the chance to discover other like disorders that affects other bodies in the same way where we now assume it is just a bad hygiene?


  10. professional? I never thought of myself as a professional I never actually even worked in the field just studied it, but thanks anyway!The most common genetic disorder is PKU and we learned its 1 in 10,000 births, but if they’re treated (following proper diet) they shouldn’t give off the smell. The other disorders are very rare. Every one of my instructors (MD geneticists) will say they’ve seen like 1 or 2 patients their lifetime of those rare ones.Aside from actual genetic diseases, you can be predisposed genetically to being more prone to have bad breath or smelly feet, or worse BO just like with everything else that’s genetically variable (weight, metabolism, etc). That means that some poeple have to work harder or try harder to stay clean or not smell or whatever. We don’t call those factors diseases or disorders but it’s something to keep in mind.


  11. amma15, that is a good point as well, I mean why judge people when they are not at the same line in fighting something. Like in weight for intance, people judge overweight people claiming that they just eat a lot, while it might be that it is harder for them to eat less or their body metabolism is lower. The same goes on smell. People should be careful and respect each other shortages. I like your way of thinking, you are obviously an intellectual person that is a good addition to our blogsphere


  12. thank you! I’m actually probably more retarded than intellectual bas kollak zo’ anywaywhy don’t you add my new blog to your links, I’ll add yours also!


  13. I need to share my burden, I feel I have a smell problem, I can see on people´s reaction. I`m a bit fat but believe me, every morning a have a shower, I use perfume and anti odorante. First I thought,people´s reaction was because of perfume being too much than I realised it was bad smell.I try to stay away from people I even asked my friends 2b honest with me but they say they don´t smell anything.The people with whom I work always making signs to each other whenever I pass.I feel so out of place that I just want to disapear.I only feel good in my room.Plus I am afraid they will not renew my contract.:(


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