Sisterhood Blog

Boy Smells: They're Not What They Used To Be

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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Derek Jeter came down my stairs this morning.

Well, not the man himself, but his scent. Moments before I see Boychik, I smell him, and these days he smells of the cologne “Derek Jeter Driven.”

Boychik, an avid fan of the Yankees, got his mitts on a sample at the World Series Parade in downtown Manhattan last fall and, as soon as he arrived back in Brooklyn, made for the computer like a player on third base running for home. Already thrilled after having seen star Yankees wave in his direction at the parade, he got as high as a pop fly when he saw that Avon was running a “buy one, get another for 1 cent” deal. Now, even with the copious amounts of “Derek Jeter Driven” he applies each morning it seems like he’ll never run out. Thanks, Avon.

Boychik, who is now 16, is definitely not alone among male teenagers in his interest in scented personal grooming. In fact, the teen and ‘tween demographics are a burgeoning market, and according to this article, is a worldwide phenomenon.

It’s called “The Axe Effect,” named for the popular brand of inexpensive shower gels, deodorants and other men’s personal grooming supplies that are targeted to, and wildly successful with, teenagers.

What do Jewish ethics or texts have to say about the trend?

Well, The Song of Songs refers to many aspects of a sensual lover: It says, “Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance; thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the maidens love thee.”

Of course I really don’t want my teenage son loved by any “maidens” just yet, and the whole thrust of the marketing is discomfiting.

This page of the Axe website touts a product called “virtual hair,” (which sounds as if it would be better marketed to the 80-something set in Florida condo colonies). It pictures three scantily-clad, stilleto-heel wearing teenage girls and features copy that suggests that using the hair product will lead to more than stylish locks. “When a girl moves in close, inhales deeply and can’t resist playing with her guy’s hair, that’s Hair Action. Girls like giving it…and it’s best when it leads to something more.”

Blech.

I know that learning to use hair and body “product” is all part of adolescence in America — and that I should be grateful that my son doesn’t walk around emitting powerful body odor, as some other teen boys do — but some days I wish Derek Jeter and his cologne would just stay in Yankee Stadium, where they both belong.


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