Ditch the Deodorant

Since I arrived in Bali, I’ve been detoxing my arm pits. That means that I’ve stopped using deodorant entirely—no powders, no antiperspirants, no nothing. This is a dangerous social experiment, if you ask me, because my armpits naturally smell bad even with deodorant on. Imagine, then, what it must smell like without antiperspirant protection. Horrifying.

Why am I doing this?

Well physiologically, antiperspirants have a grocery list of toxins. I’ve decided to eliminate all the carcinogens and fragrances that I’ve been dumping into my body, which simply cannot be good for my bloodstream.

Instead I scrub my pits each morning and night. I’ve learned to accept my body odor instead of judging it all the time: Interesting, Julia, I’ll say to myself, smells like curry today. And even when my pits evoke the sewers of Calcutta, I’ll adopt a neutral perspective: Interesting, Julia. Smells like onions mixed with soap.


Flashback to my yoga teacher training in 2010…

We were asked to name which element we most identified with: are you mostly water, earth, fire or air? I naturally selected earth because I’m a Virgo and Virgos are earth signs. In fact, I practically wrote a 10-paragraph essay supporting my case (very Virgo-like if you ask me)!

“Huh?” my teacher said in confusion. “Julia—you’re fire.”

I was stunned to silence. I didn’t understand.

Seven years later, I volunteered at a peace retreat in Costa Rica. Not more than two days into my journey, a teacher said to me: “You’ve got a lot of fire in you, Julia.”

Again, I did not understand.

No, not me! I objected. I’m earth goddammit! Can’t you people see it?! I’m grounded, cerebral, and hardworking. Just look at me!


Well, it’s taken me a long time to get here but I think I’ve finally arrived.

What I have been blinded to for so long (despite all the self-help books, workshops, trainings and healings) is something that I’ve just now put together:


Fire provides warmth, fire can burn, fire transforms, and it can light up the world when used correctly.

Today I realize that this isn’t about deodorant at all. (Besides, my armpits still smell like damp manure.) This is about accepting my personal “scent” and nurturing my inner fire. This is about surrounding myself with people whose fires shine brightly, too–with people whose fires generate light, healing, goodness and positivity in the world.

This is the statement I made when I vowed to ditch the deodorant, only I didn’t know it at the time.

Well, now I know.

This is my scent to nurture; this is my element to cultivate.





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