Viewpoint: Ax the Axe


Published February 6, 2013

I’m in lecture and suddenly, my heart starts racing. Heart attack! Panic attack! Spontaneous human combustion! Is it because I’m anemic? The possibilities I come up with for what’s happening to me seem endless. My head fogs over as I slump into what might possibly be the most resigned posture you’ve ever seen.

Let’s backtrack.

I’ve been here before: Someone walks into class, sits somewhere by me and a bit of them proceeds to go up my nose. I don’t want to come across as hoity-toity, and I’m aware that air theoretically belongs to everyone, but please, for the love of baby Jesus, don’t wear your perfume or cologne to class.

Let me try and talk you out of it. First of all, if you’re a person who is fond of a couple morning sprays of a chemical fragrance, you might want to check out the term “endocrine disruptor.” This is a broad category of chemicals that includes things like phthalates, bisphenol A, lead, pesticides, detergents and other olfactory-inducing additives. But if you intend on keeping your reproductive organs intact, you might want to know that using Axe on yourself might end up sculpting more than just your aroma. Endocrine disruptors are little buggers in perfume, cologne and other things that mess with how hormones work, and could lead to breast cancer, prostate cancer, allergies, asthma and other conditions and complications. Oprah has talked about them, Nick Kristof has written about them and while there’re definitely some science aspects I don’t understand about them, I do know how perfume and cologne physically make me feel.

There needs to be a bigger discussion about what these chemicals do to our bodies. We shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs like the generation before us with smoking and figure out years down the line that oh, hey, in retrospect, that was a pretty harmful idea and we had no clue what was going on. I realize that we can’t put seat belts and child safety locks on everything we come in contact with, and I’m not arguing for as big of a shaming campaign as the one against smoking. But I do think we need to talk about the obnoxious and probably noxious fragrances we subject ourselves to. We might end up having fewer headaches all around.

Alaina Wygant is an LSA sophomore.