(asked by David L. from Miami)
Actually, I was surprised that nobody had asked this question yet, especially after the shaving question. And if you think about asking the “losing wars” question, don’t worry, David is asking this one too and it’ll be the next entry.
This is what friends are for.
So, why don’t French people wear deodorant?
Truth is, that to my knowledge most French people do wear deodorant.
I won’t say that everybody does, that would be a lie, but most urban people do.
I know, if you’ve been to Paris at some point in your life and you’ve taken the metro, especially during rush hour, you must have had an unpleasant encounter -especially if you’re short- with a stinky armpit.
But chances are (and I don’t want to be pointing fingers here) that these stinky people were foreigners from countries where body hygiene is not necessarily a priority.
Even though I must admit that some French deodorants are weak (especially compared to the hardcore ones that one can find in Florida for example, because they’re really needed big time over there) and at the end of a busy day, if you had to wear a jacket or so all day long and if it’s warmer than expected, deodorant or not, it’s a good idea to have a shower after work.
But this question, which is a modernized version of the “French people don’t bathe” stereotype is a very interesting one in my opinion. As I’ve mentioned before (in the shaving question), most stereotypes about France that one can find in the US (and exported later to the rest of the English speaking world) come from right after WWII when GIs were stationed in France. And as previously mentioned, it was a time right after France had been occupied by Nazi Germany for four years, when everything was rationed and everybody was deprived of many things, and yes at that time it was more important to save the little water people had to drink and to cook rather than to bathe. Especially because most French houses didn’t have running water before the late 40’s if I’m not wrong.