Saturday, January 30, 2010

For The Record, I Think The Smell of Axe Deodorant is Hot

I know. I know. But it smells like Drakkar Noir or something, and when I was 12 I thought that hot older guys wore that. That and Cool Water. I'm sorry world. I really think it smells great. Can we not be a civilized people and admit that when we were all tweens, we were drawn to trashy things because they seemed adult, and we had no idea what the hell that was?

Before you rush to judge (okay you already have), check the following article on Jezebel today, about how we navigate deodorant from teens to now. Ladies, if you hate Axe, then you hate someone just because of their deodorant choice. That's mean. Understandable, but mean. Article below...Malibu Musk mention...holla! Oh I thought it smelled soooo good and if I wore it I would be immediately 17 and in the passenger's seat of a red convertible, driving out of Connecticut and into Beverly Hills...(this can still happen right?)
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"I was approximately 12 years old when my mother bought me my first stick of deodorant. She gave it to me right before I entered sixth grade, and it was, at the time, the most grown-up product I'd ever owned.

Looking back, I realize that my mother probably tossed a stick of deodorant my way because puberty had brought the joys of b.o. to my life and she didn't want me entering sixth grade as "that girl who stinks," but at the time I thought it was her way of acknowledging that I wasn't a little kid anymore; I was a lady, who needed lady things, you see, like deodorant and a training bra and face wash and such. It didn't matter that I had no breasts or zits to speak of: it was the ownership of these products, the physical reminders that I was entering the realm of the grown-up world, that really mattered.

In today's New York Times, Jan Hoffman explores the world of the youngest Axe deodorant wearers—tween boys—and notes that the deodorant really represents "masculinity in a can," a way for boys to assert their manhood through the smells their female classmates have come to associate with older men. It's not a new phenomenon by any means; when I was in middle school, the stench of Drakkar Noir, often swiped from an older brother's bedroom, wafted down the hallways, and for the most part, we all thought it was totally dreamy until we grew up to associate it with, well, those dudes who still wear Drakkar Noir.

It's easy to scorn Axe deodorant and it's dumbass depictions of masculinity—I do it nearly every weekend, for crying out loud—but there's one line in Hoffman's piece that really broke my heart: when asked by a teacher why he had to wear the scent, a junior high student replied: "I have to have it, Ms. G., because I don't have the money to dress the right way. This is all I can afford." As a can of Axe costs less than $10, it's a way for young men to fit in and give the girls something they supposedly like without breaking the bank.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to be kinder to teenagers: it's way too easy to mock them without taking the two seconds necessary to remember how terrible and scary and complicated life was at that age, not only because of the effects of puberty, but because adults are constantly pointing out how much you have to learn and how far you have to go without really giving you an opportunity to actually learn and or go before they start yelling at you for doing it wrong. My instant reaction to this article was to just write "Teenage Boys Attempt To Stop Smelling Bad By Smelling Worse," which is a bit jerky and rather unfair, and doesn't really take into account the fact that many of us, myself included, doused ourselves in Debbie Gibson-inspired perfumes in order to feel more grown up at the age when being a kid or being an adult both seem somehow impossible.

And though I do find the Axe-ification of masculinity to be troubling, I'd guess that most of these tweens will move past their deodorant obsessions as they mature. Probably. Maybe. Most of us have moved on from our days of Baby Soft and Electric Youth and Malibu Musk, no? I don't think every 11-year-old boy who Axe-ifies is instantly transformed into a misogynistic douche, just as I don't think every 11-year-old girl who puts on a bit of eyeshadow is booking a ticket to Tramp Town. Adolescence is a strange and smelly time: sometimes, you just want the assurance that whenever adulthood does arrive, you'll at least be somewhat prepared. And that you won't be "that girl who stinks." Thanks, Mom."

For Tween Boys, Masculinity In A Spray Can [NYTimes]

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

ha!

C-47 said...

Ugh... and does anyone remember the first couple times perfume/cologne was attempted? And you way over compensated its application and effectively became an ambulatory bathroom freshener? A cloud of Polo One vapor with a voice somewhere in the middle...

C-47 said...

side note. This topic was the subject of a conversation with my girlfriend, who's a fair bit younger then me, last week. And she had no idea what Drakkar Noir was, whereas I had no clue what Axe Body spray smelled like. Getting older and antiquated is awesome... wait, no.

eleanorstrousers said...

Most of the grown men I know have jumped on the Axe deodorant train (although thankfully the stick, not spray).

The first boy I kissed smelled like (probably too much) Drakkar Noir. May the tween girls of today have similarly overpowering memories.

Lindsay Champion said...

I used to wear Cool Water when I was in 9th grade... FOR MEN! I was such a badass... ;-D

Viagra Online said...

I think every teenager has experimented about how to use thing that adults use and there's many histories about it I'm heard that years ago people used to use lemon as a deodorant.