Social Question

rebbel's avatar

Why are sweaty armpits considered gross?

Asked by rebbel (28641points) August 16th, 2010

Or do you maybe think it isn’t gross at all?
When i see, for example, a contestant in a game show on telly, cheering because he/she won a car, and there are sweat stains on her/his shirt, i want to look away.
However, when i see a tennis player, or any other athlete, who has wet clothes, i don’t have that urge.
Why, if it is clearly a very human thing to sweat, do some of us think it is yuk when we are confronted with those images?

On a side note: why do we only apply deodorant on our armpits, when we also sweat from our foreheads, our backs, our groins, etc.?

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23 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I suppose, to me, it depends on whose armpits they are. I love when my partner sweats and smells and all that jazz.

jfos's avatar

Because otherwise people wouldn’t pay for deodorant/antiperspirant.

Behind every societal standard, there’s a product being sold/company making money.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Wet armpits usually mean smelly skin and clothes to follow.

hug_of_war's avatar

stinky and moist. I don’t like stinky moist things.

DominicX's avatar

Because usually I see it on fat bald guys. It’s not the same as seeing it on, say, my boyfriend. :)

Also, athletics are supposed to make you sweat. It’s just part of doing that kind of activity. But when you do it inside in a non-athletic environment, it seems a little out of place.

We use deodorant on our armpits because that’s the area that smells when sweat gets there. Don’t really have that problem on our foreheads. Not to mention, sweat serves a purpose. Blocking it all doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

zenele's avatar

@rebbel I’m with you on this one; I tried to look deep into myself to see why I am so superficial about this – after all, it isn’t the person’s fault and all. Turns out I am not a deep person.

I can’t. I hate wet pits. I’m shallow. But dry.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It doesn’t bother me at all.

Frenchfry's avatar

I don’t have a problem unless I have to sit next the person.

deni's avatar

Me too @Simone_De_Beauvoir !!!! i think my boyfriends BO smells good. I dont like the smell of mine though. Its weird. in general i dont think body odor is a bad thing. its usually not that unpleasant. sometimes its even good. my brother always smells like garlic and herbs. its delightful.

DominicX's avatar

Okay, you guys are getting into like…fetish territory there… :P

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DominicX Fetishism applies to inanimate objects, not people.

DominicX's avatar


“any object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.”

That’s the definition I was using.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DominicX Hm, well I don’t think I have a fixation.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Considering that pheromones are released in fresh sweat, it’s not unrealistic to believe that a person would find a their s/o sexy or appealing when they are…. dewy. ;)

Austinlad's avatar

Doesn’t bother me one single bit. Unless I’m near somebody with them.

Trillian's avatar

I don’t know about “gross” per se. But men don’t shave their armpits. Hair attracts not only moisture but germs and bacteria. Initially, sweat doesn’t really smell horrible, but if you don’t wash the germs multiply and give off an unpleasant odor. Any skin that is like a crevice keeps moisture more readily and where moisture is, germs follow. This is true for women as well. Follow that train of thought wherever you wish, I’m done. ;-)

rooeytoo's avatar

I have an extremely sensitive nose and I don’t like things that smell bad and stale dirty pits smell bad! I don’t like it!

DominicX's avatar

@Trillian Armpit hair…now that’s hot… ;)

Jabe73's avatar

It may be considered gross but for the most part is completly unavoidable. If my armpits are the only thing full of sweat when I come home from work than I consider that an easy day. When someone doesn’t wear deodorant that’s when I get angry.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I can’t smell it 9 out of 10 times. If I see it, I’m not really grossed out by it. It’s a natural bodily function. That smell when someone hasn’t washed their clothes in a while, that bugs me. But that’s not what you were asking for. GQ!

meagan's avatar

I was just thinking about this the other day, while I was at the gym. I LOVE sweating at the gym.
I don’t get “smelly” (believe me, I’ve experienced smelly at the gym.. kjdfadk) but I do think that the day doesn’t start until you get a good work out going.

I think people are grossed out by pit-sweat because it really isn’t the enviorment for sweating, like in a business meeting, or on a game show.
What kind of intense exercise would make a CEO sweat so much?

Maybe its like wearing a swimsuit to a meeting. People don’t expect it in that situation, so it freaks them out.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Because it may mean that they smell sweaty which is not always a pleasant thing to endure? I don’t know, it doesn’t really bother me that much and don’t necessarily think “ew” when i see it. I don’t want to have them near me if they smell sweaty though, that IS ew.

Trillian's avatar

For the record, I like the way a man smells. At least, I liked the way my man smelled. I liked to smell his shirts when he was gone, and the smell of the sheets and pillow where he had been, but I am used to paying attention to all my senses, so I can immerse myself in everything when…. you know. I hear, I touch, see, smell, taste,,,, It’s all part of the experience and I savor it in every way possible. Or at least, I used to. Maybe I will again someday.

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