Prolonged amounts of time at home during the pandemic have exposed some stress points in relationships.
It’s hardly a surprise. Whole families, often with adult-age children, suddenly found themselves under the same roof for most of every day. That went on for multiple months and continues even now.
For one 20-year-old Redditor, the tension with her brother has been palpable.
lm1100, as she’s known on the site, posted on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit after a spat about her younger brother’s oppressive body odor left her receiving the silent treatment.
The post began with a character sketch of this younger brother.
He’d been a little smelly for awhile before life at home even began.
“My (F20) little bro (16) has always been a bit lazy when it came to his hygiene. We thought that it might be his hormone levels that caused him to sweat more or get greasy hair more easily, but he went to get them checked out and they were all in the normal range.”
“So for the last months my parents and I have subtly tried to get him to be more hygienic. He was either oblivious or didn’t care.”
Of course, that went on to be a significant factor when the whole family confined itself to four walls.
“When lockdown started it got out of hand. He showers two times a week, while working out and I really don’t know when the last time was he cut his nails. He has literally holes in his socks bc his toe nails are that long.”
“A few days ago I told him he needs to shower/ wash his hair more often or at least use deodorant ( I bought him some the other week but he hasn’t touched it) because he always smells sweaty.”
“He brushed it off by saying it’s not that bad and he‘s doing the environment a favor by not wasting so much water.”
How conscious of him.
Ironically, it took an errand out of the house to force a confrontation about his stench.
“Now he‘s been really into cooking lately and actually likes to go grocery shopping with me ( I normally do the grocery shopping). I told him yesterday that he couldn’t come shopping with me anymore if he doesn’t up his hygiene.”
“Look, he can wear a pink tutu and heels to go outside and I would fully support that. You do you.”
“But I‘m embarrassed when people turn their heads because he literally reeks so bad, or when they keep their distance while waiting in line. The only thing going for him is that his clothes are clean bc I or my mom wash them for him.”
Little bro didn’t take it well at all.
He was so upset that he managed to make her feel guilty for calling the problem out directly.
Cue the informed contributions of the Reddit peanut gallery.
“He called me a bi*** and threw a huge tantrum saying I couldn’t decide that, but we are taking my car that I paid for myself. I went alone this morning and my bro was really upset that I actually went through with what I said and is now ignoring me.”
“I do feel bad about being so harsh and hurting his feelings but at 16 you should know basic hygiene. I also didn’t know how I could approach the subject bc I thought we had tried everything at that point.”
She had no problem finding support among other Redditors.
They flatly stated that it’s high time her brother became more self-aware and handled his smell.
“NTA” (Not the A**hole) prefaced most comments.
“NTA, He should be practicing hygiene without being told to” — InsaneHookerLlama
“NTA at his age he should definitely know how grim he is and should be taking care of himself” — ljm02
“NTA. He’s a big boy, he should learn to act it. You know who doesn’t take care of their hygiene? Children. If he’s going to act like a child, treat him like one.” — -g_s-
“NTA. His hygiene choices are within his control and are affecting you.” — Adventurous_Coat
Some even framed her intervention as a favor in the long run.
“NTA. That’s not an ugly request. He doesn’t wanna be known as the stinky kid in school, or run off potential dating partners, and he doesn’t wanna continue this habit into adulthood.”
“Hygiene is fundamental for success.” — rustyshackleford1301
“NTA. He is teenager and eventually he will want to get laid. Does he want to get laid? He will need to up his hygiene. No girl will go for the dude with the greasy hair.”
“Look at Severus Snape. Does he want to die saying ‘always’ and never getting the girl?” — Pinky_Pineapple
Others supported her, but left space for patience for her little brother all the while.
They pointed to a couple of possible causes driving the problem.
“NTA. Unhygienic bodies smell bad and you tried to tell him nicely. He might be depressed or have some other issue going on. My hygiene always starts to falter when im struggling.” — Reidbooty
“My son at 14 was turning into this kid, but he went to the grandparents’ place for a month in the summer time and my mother essentially forced him into the shower at least once a day.”
“He made the incredible discovery that he preferred being clean and permanently changed his behaviour. I couldn’t get him to do it.”
“It’s possible your brother is depressed or doesn’t understand the effect he’s having on others and that’s more of a psychological thing. Can some help be found for him if that’s the case.” — Whoreson_Welles
“NTA. but honestly this is on your parents. Showering was not optional when I was growing up and more than going to school and doing my chores. Your parents need to stop enabling your brother.”
“He’s 16 and apparently answers to no one in his life. Him being dirty is a symptom of him being spoiled.” — MusksMammaries
One even went as far as to thank her for doing what she did.
“From all the fellow shoppers at the grocery store – thank you for sparing us. If he wants to be stinky he can stay away from public places. The real question is how do you guys gag down the food he makes knowing his nasty, unclean hands have touched it?”
“NTA. Asking someone to perform the most basic of hygiene is reasonable.” — milee30
At least this swath of the Reddit community apparently has zero patience whatsoever for body odor or the neglect of personal hygiene.
But the vigilance only goes so far. Even if a person defied that ethic and reeked miserably behind their screen, nobody would ever know.