Perfume in the workplace has been a hot topic lately, as evidenced by the trolling of the poor Candy Perfume Boy’s “Perfume In The Workplace” post by a very angry member of “The Fragrance Free Project” (which I suspect is run out of her basement). We at Scents of Self are nothing if not up on the latest haps, so I’m jumping on this bandwagon with a post of my own about the role of perfume in a college classroom. I hope that it will be helpful to any perfume lovers currently in college (curiously, there don’t seem to be many of us online, although I’m sure that they’re out there), or will at least provide a therapeutic place for all of us to bitch about that one girl who wore Dior Poison in Microeconomics.
The first issue with regard to perfume use in a classroom is space. If you work in an office, you most likely have your own cubicle, or possibly even your own office (oooh, girl, you fancy!) In a college lecture, however, you will be seated less than 2 feet away from someone for anywhere from 50 minutes to three hours. This is a very long time to be in such close contact with a smell that one finds unpleasant.
Much like that one girl who dresses like Lady Gaga for 9 AM physics class, or that group of bros who spend the whole class grunting about how they were totally about to break the Sigma Chi keg stand record last night, a loud, strong perfume can also be a distraction. As a junior at Johns Hopkins University, I have to say that it is already extremely difficult to learn anything from classes. You only have 50 minutes. The professor will mumble, or have illegible handwriting, or have illegible handwriting and refuse to use PowerPoints. Or he will be unnaturally fixated on Kim Kardashian and waste valuable class time talking about her sex tape. Or he will spend 45 of the 50 minutes recounting his glory days at NASA and then rush through the actual material in the last 5. (These are all real experiences that I have had. I’m not bitter.) Unless you are a super genius like my adorable little brother Buzz, who got both the looks and the brains in the family, you simply cannot afford additional distractions in a lecture.
Now, I would never advocate for a perfume-free classroom. In fact, I see the right to wear perfume in the classroom as being much like the American right to free speech. You are allowed to say whatever you want, but the law does not make you immune from criticism for what you said. Similarly, you can wear any perfume that you want, but I cannot offer you any protection against negative responses from people who find your perfume offensive.
Here is what I do recommend: small amounts of relatively quiet perfumes. Nothing loud or overwhelming. Again, it’s like freedom of speech. If you do not say anything particularly outrageous or egregious, you are less likely to encounter negative reactions. I am not going to name perfume names here, because I believe that even the most monstrous perfumes can be reasonable in appropriately tiny amounts. You are perfectly within your rights to dress like Lady Gaga and bathe in Aquolina Pink Sugar for your 9 AM physics class. However, I am equally within my rights to find you somewhat obnoxious for doing so.
What is your take on perfume in the classroom?