Guest post by Debbie Clark Seely
I wanted to take the time to write this letter because we (the “unscented” community) are concerned for you. With it being the holiday season we are seeing multiple reports of friends and family members choosing to cut ties to their unscented loved ones rather than make the effort to visit them unscented. This perplexes us. It makes us feel like you are choosing scent over a human being.
A lot of us are already isolated, trying to escape being made sick by all the myriad of scents that one encounters daily, and to have someone that we care about either ignore our requests or stop coming around just makes our small world even smaller.
The interesting thing is that if it were pretty much anything else that was making us sick, you probably wouldn’t have any issues temporarily giving it up for us. If you were a smoker, you probably wouldn’t light up around an asthmatic if they asked you not to, or carry a strobe light near someone that has epilepsy if they warned that it could bring on a seizure, right?
So why is it so hard for people to stop wearing scent? Chemical scents found in almost all cleaning, laundry and personal care items affects people that have asthma, epilepsy, migraines and chemical sensitivities.
Well, there are several theories out there, but the two most prominent are actually intertwined. This author believes that it is a combination of the way the human body processes scent and the brilliant marketing strategies brought about by the advertising psychologists throughout the last fifty years or so.
Smelling is the only sense that has a direct pathway to the brain, and that is a very powerful thing. The scent molecules affect the limbic portion of the brain, which affect our emotions and memories. The whole process is explained very well here but suffice it to say that for any substance to have such access to our central nervous system, there is much potential for problems.
Many people think that there are addictive substances in modern scents. Since the fragrance industry is self-regulated, and is not required to list what their ingredients are, there is no way of confirming or denying this theory. The very behavior this letter is addressing lends strength to such an assertion.
The second part of the puzzle (in my opinion) is that we, as a society, have been trained to believe that if we don’t smell like some kind of artificial scent, then we are somehow less of a person, our homes aren’t as clean, we aren’t as good. For this lie that we have been believing wholesale, we can thank the hundreds of psychologists that are trained to advise advertisers exactly what to say to make us “need” their products. Through the years they have made millions of dollars for the fragrance industry by training us to believe their version of reality.
The truth is that nobody NEEDS to use chemical scents. But we all need to have clean air to breathe. Most of us need our loved ones around us, especially during the holiday season.
Please, if you care about someone that has a health issue that is affected by scented products, ask them if you can do something to make your visit any easier. And if you are asked to use unscented products, wash with unscented soap or wear clothing that is free of scent, remember that your loved one(s) don’t want to have to choose between their health and seeing you, so please don’t make them.
~ Debbie Clark Seely
Edited in December 2018 to add:
Note that there is no difference between many of the adverse health effects caused by artificial chemical fragrances and natural ones or EOs. The proliferation of EOs (even pure and organic ones) has created a toxic overload and they too need to be avoided as it turns out they are the light cigarette version of regular fragrances