I have a friend that always has an intense body odor. I enjoy hanging out with him, but the smell just gets to be a bit much. I don’t think he even realizes that he stinks. Several times in the past, I have made jokes about his smell hoping that he would get the message and clean up. Needless to say, he still stinks. I was thinking about just buying him some soap and giving it to him as a gift. Do you think that would be rude or inappropriate? How do you suggest I go about getting my friend to clean up?
Out of all the awkward moments out there, this is surely one of the most awkward. Not only is it difficult and awkward for you, but there is much more potential for awkwardness and embarrassment for your friend. Instead of making jokes you could try one other more subtle approach. Tell him you need to go buy some more deodorant, and encourage him to try it with statements such as, “This deodorant works really, well! You should try it!” Or, “Try some of this—the ladies love it!” You could do the same for some cologne shopping. Spray some on him (making sure that he’s not allergic first, of course) and tell him how good it smell on him. It’s important to know the person’s situation and the source of their stench. Maybe they can’t afford soap. Outright buying it as a gift could be helpful, but also embarrassing. If you know that money could be a problem for them, you could buy some soap or deodorant for them, but make sure that the way you gift it is tactful and private. If you tape it to his door, he’ll most likely be mortified. You could possibly slip it into his backpack or leave it in his room. And you’re right, most likely he has no idea how he smells. Most likely you would have no idea if you smelled bad. “Can you imagine, me? Stinky? No way!” Think about what if it were the other way around? You, of course, wouldn’t want to be stinky, but you would want to know. Think, also, about who you would want to hear it from. If other more subtle approaches don’t work, you’ll have to pick between dealing with the smell or coming out with the truth. I would make sure that it’s coming from a close friend or family member, as well as making sure that you tell them privately and gently.
Best of luck!