It seems like I get almost every single one of the mails complaining of perfume overload from people living on US soil. The matter had been discussed in a previous post, Americans vs French, the Culture Wars, but here are some more thoughts stemming from past discourse with interested parties.
1. The frivolity of perfume seems ingrained in a sort of WASP mentality, the glorification of soap & water of religious significance through the "cleanliness next to godliness" axiom. Interestingly, although the phrase is similarly coined in other languages to extol the value of cleaning up, the connection is not made with the divine but rather with other values, such as social status (In Greek it's "cleanliness is half nobility" ). To further the syllogism one might say that eschewing the god-preferred clean smell of soap & water, covering it up with perfume "reeks" of suspicious motives, of emulating women of low reputation who used perfume in order to either hide the smell of other men on them or to seduce men through perfume. In a certain milieu, the use of perfume might be considered thus immoral.
2. The cubicle farm culture is most prevalent in the US rather than in other countries (although I'm not going by any solid statistic, just what I see on first "reading") which might explain why there are so many people who have complaints. It's not entirely their fault (or their co-workers'), you know, the environment induces discomfort, conflict and ennui! Someone has to be blamed and perfume is so easy. Especially so since smells invade our space and trigger emotional responses.
3. The following might not be relevant nowadays in all cases, but I distinctly recall a perfumer mentioning that American perfumes are made with a higher concentration within the established eau de toilette, eau de parfum concentrations so as to satisfy the taste to have your perfume announcing you, a form of "olfactory shoulder pads". It's also a historical fact that some of the most potent, powerful fragrances first met with success in the US, such as Narcisse Noir by Caron, due to this preference for stronger fragrances. (And we all recall Calvin Klein's Obsession and Giorgio Beverly Hills, don't we). So it' wasn't always like that. Additionally several of the modern "clean" scents of American name are so harsh that they do pierce sinuses.
So in view of the above is it any wonder that lots of Americans are complaining? I don't think it's entirely their fault.
What's YOUR take?