Monday, March 23, 2015

Smells Like Omega Spirit

This article got me thinking: Sense of smell reveals fat prejudice, study shows

Evidently many people assume fat people smell worse than thin people. Without even thinking about it. Just blind acceptance of a social norm.

My racist grandmother told me that black people smell bad, because their hair smells like wet sheep. I thought she was an idiot, so I didn't believe her, even though she owned a beauty shop and was a licensed cosmetologist. Later, when I had a girlfriend who is black, my assumption that my grandmother's ideas were not based on factual evidence proved true when I discovered that my girlfriend's hair smelled like shampoo.

Lux soap advertisement from my grandmother's young days
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Beauty lies are not reserved for racists. Corporations peddle their wares to anyone they can convince will be better off with their product. The company that sells Lysol used to run ads aimed at housewives suggesting they douche with Lysol to cover up their feminine stench. Lysol. Seriously. Ouch, I can feel the burn vicariously just thinking about it.

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Guess what, Ladies? There is nothing wrong with your natural smell. You don't need to buy chemicals to have an inviting vagina.

Companies tell us stories to convince us that we'd be better off with their products. The narrative goes like this: black people smell bad, and women smell bad. And now, fat people smell bad, too.

Question: Does Jes, the hot fat chick, smell bad?
Hint: this is not a scratch and sniff screen. 
Answer: Who the fuck knows?

Blacks, women, and fatties. We must be too wild, too uncivilized to live amongst the well groomed upper echelons of our human pack. The fair skinned. The men. The thin.

When I visited the wolves at the conservation center in Colorado, the tour guide asked if anyone had a question. I raised my hand and asked, "What's the purpose of the omega wolf in the social order?"

"The purpose?" The tour guide asked. I nodded. "The purpose of the omega wolf is to give the other wolves someone to pick on."

I love wolves. I admire their ability to collaborate and work as a pack to hunt, and to care for their young. But I don't understand the idea of the omega dog. Just as I don't understand the idea of the underdog in our human social order. Black, women, fat folks, we are, too often, the omegas of the human pack.

The difference? Humans are not wolves. We are not wild. We are not destined to succumb to our base needs. We can rationally think, what is the purpose of picking on the omega human? To make me feel better? What if I don't feel better? What if we could ask around the others in our pack and see if they feel the same? Does it really make you feel better to pick on someone else? Or do you feel better when you stick up for the omega and let others see that we've evolved past needing an underdog to kick around?

I understand the purpose of an Alpha. Every social group needs someone's decisions to blame bad outcomes on. I understand the Betas. The keepers of social order. The worker bees and hunters in a wolf pack. But the Omegas? Whose purpose is solely to give the others someone to pick on? Eh, let's do away with that role in our human social order. Shall we?