Battling bad smells has been a millenia-long battle for humanity.
Fighting body odor specifically has been a battle against our very own
human make-up. With the exception of those carrying the gene ABCC11
(which makes for no armpit smell), common amongst the populations of the
Far East, the vast majority of us of European, African, Central Asian
and Native American descent have the sort of apocrine glands in the
armpit and groin which secrete a sort of sweaty liquid that when mixed
with surface bacteria develops body odor.[...]
The very interesting thing is not the invention of deodorant (and anti-perspirant, which debuted in the early 20th century based on aluminum chloride first marketed under the suggestive name Everdry) but the power of marketing. Women, American women in particular, were especially targeted in typically sexist campaigns which implied that their natural odor was repulsive to heterosexual men, therefore they had to rely on a deodorant or anti-perspirant in order to land the man of their dreams.
An advertisement from the Walter Thomson Archives, at the Duke University, proclaims in the very title "Within the Curve of a Woman's Arm. A frank discussion of a subject too often avoided." Including lines asking "Would you be absolutely sure of your daintiness?" and "Does excessive perspiration ruin your prettiest dresses?"
The agressive campaigns by the Odorono Company, giving their address as Ruth Miller, The Odorono Co., 719 Blair Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, promised the "so simple, so easy, so sure" solution for that "problem", imaginary or real.
You can find the entire article on Fragrantica on this link.