Exploring Racial Differences in Body Odor

Exploring Racial Differences in Body Odor

After spending a decade in China and primarily dating Chinese girls, I came back to Canada and realized that white girls, even after a thorough scrub down, have a rather off-putting odour about them. It kinda reminded me of sour milk.

a sighting of the white female in her natural habitat

Exhibit A: The white female in her natural habitat, unleashing a fury of stink.

I dismissed the idea until I randomly read a book by Paul Theroux called The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road and stumbled upon this quote:

“Objectively, nothing’s more disgusting than eating milk or cheese,” my son Marcel said to me one day when we were discussing this subject. Most Chinese agree, but nearly all are physically unable to digest the stuff, being lactose intolerant. (Many Chinese believe that the so-called white race has an odd cheesy smell.)”

Had I simply been in China for too long and developed a Chinese nose for body odour? Is it true that the “white race” has an odd cheesy smell? Is the average white guy in Canada/US/elsewhere constantly experiencing odor fatigue (temporary, normal inability to distinguish a particular odor after a prolonged exposure to that airborne compound) and can not sense that white girls actually do stink? I decided to dig a little deeper.

I came across a TED talk by zoologist Tristram Wyatt from the University of Oxford, a leading expert on body odor and the evolution of pheromones. He found that:

“20% of the world’s population doesn’t have smelly armpits like [white people]. These are people from China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of Northeast Asia. They simply don’t secrete those odourless precursors that bacteria love to use to produce the smells that in an ethnocentric way we thought was characteristic of armpits.” – Zoologist Tristram Wyatt, University of Oxford.

This talk was originally posted on TED.com and racked up almost 1 million views.

So you got 1.4 billion Chinese saying that the white race smells like cheese. They you have one of the top body odor expert in the world saying that white girls (and boys) have stinky armpits, whereas Chinese girls (and boys) do not. So maybe my thought about white girls smelling like sour milk wasn’t totally off the mark?

After more Googling, there’s also a book called Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs When They Come Out Of The Rain? Interesting.

I have now been up close and personal with three white girls since I have been back. And my Chinese nose (I’m actually white, by the way) says they are 3 for 3 in terms of that odd sour milk smell, even after a rigorous scrub down in the shower.

Of course factors other than race could be involved, such as diet. The more dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt, sour milk – you consume the more you excrete these sorts of chemicals through your skin, sweat, and breath.

It could also mean that we just weren’t meant to mate, which exists more on an individual level than on the level of race. Research has shown that the more alluring you perceive your partner’s smell, the more likely you are to produce healthy offspring with strong immune systems.

However, one could argue that because Caucasians and Asians are already genetically quite different it is a fair bet that they will probably produce hardy babies and therefore find each other more attractive, both in smell and in looks.

But for now, I conclude: white girls (and boys, I assume), you stink! Change your diet. The Western diet is built on lies and greed…but we’ll save that for another post.

Photos via EdenPictures

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One Comment

  • Carol says:

    Interesting article and perception. I never thought about white people being smellier. Actually I find it quite the opposite. But I do like the reasoning of the dairy effect.

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