My favorite sex negative commercial at the moment is for Secret , a brand of deodorant. A pleasant, all knowing voice tells us, “Even the THOUGHT of being stinky is mortifying!!!” amidst scenes of people in public situations sneaking a smell of their own underarms.This is such a perfect example of how our commercially driven culture diligently works to remove us from acceptance of our natural bodies. It is this separation and disdain of our own physical beings that is really mortifying.
I think most people would agree that they are not attracted to stinky feet, or completely unchecked body odor when someone has been playing sports or doing physical work in the sun. But, mortifying??? The word root “mort” means death. Body odors of all creatures are used for life – to mark territory for survival, to identify offspring, and to attract mates – or possibly repel them!
Many people like odors, within reason, of their babies, or of their lovers, for example. Odors however subtle, still play a role in identifying individuals, attracting us to others, and signalling sexual response. This commercial is just one example of the pervasive messages enmeshed in our culture – messages that ARE deadly – which continuously sell us on the idea that being a natural human is undesirable – but thanks to companies like Proctor and Gamble, there are products we can buy to cover up our true selves!
Certainly I am glad for the existence of deodorant, but the idea that a body odor is mortifying is one that represents a much larger problem that seriously compromises mental and physical health. Vital life activities such as childbirth practices, sexuality, nutrition, and communication to name a few, have largely been removed from the realm of nature and spirit. People have been sold a bill of goods from a variety of vendors whose motives are questionable at best. We have allowed ourselves to be separated in basic ways from the earth and being human animals part of a larger web of all life.
Opposite from the message of the Secret deodorant commercial, it’s NOT being and telling the truth that can have mortifying condequences. Evidence is now revealing that mercury exists in high levels in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients – mercury being a common ingredient in commercial deoderants. But it’s not either/or, stink or die! We don’t have to live totaly according to animal instinct – the animals that we are also have a complex brain and social system of living which demands more than biological drives behind our behaviors in order to insure our future survival. You can safely choose sweet smells to apply to your body – just choose among the natural, earth based products that are available from companies who in turn, respect earth and fair trade among peoples.
As author E.B. White wrote in the childrens story The Trumpet of the Swan, “Forget not that the earth longs to feel your bare feet, and the wind to play in your hair.”
We will have a healthier world when as adults, we all remember those words.
I say – use deodorant if you want, (or the people around you request it!); be clean and appetizing, so important for pleasurable relations of all kinds. But be sure to know and appreciate your smell, and the smells of those you love. They are not mortifying (even if strong) – they are about being alive and of the Earth.