Sweat It: Shifting Perspectives on Body Odor

A performative and participatory workshop in which people are encouraged to challenge their norms and aversion to body odors.  

The fear of smelling bad is a major concern in contemporary society, leading us to hide our biological nature. Observing the many products available for removing and covering up body odors in an average Dutch supermarket, drug store, or perfumery confirms this fear. The introduction of showers, washing machines, and commercial fragrance products made it increasingly easy to remove body odor, and reinforced norms of ‘cleanliness’. As a result of historical encouragement to conceal bodily fluids, certainly in the west, we have now become averse to our own body odor and that of others. Depending on class, race, and gender, if you do not smell ‘nice’ and ‘clean’ – perfumed and with no sign of body odor – there is a high probability that people will subconsciously judge you negatively. Sweat it proposes that we reprogram our perception of body odor, through exposure and training awareness, by developing a rich vocabulary around how we smell.