It Changed My Life*! (*month)

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Do people who’ve publicly claimed that certain health regimens have “changed their lives” actually stick with those regimens after those public claims? Because when I’ve read a compelling enough case for whatever that regimen is, I just envision them going on forever and ever, continuing with it, getting better and better and better, healthier and healthier, while I’m stuck with whatever product they convinced me to buy, which usually just sits around on the counter or in the closet, or digs holes in my bank account, or otherwise manages to somehow make me fatter/grosser/worse. Or something like that. For every effort to make a shortcut or life improvement, there’s an equal and opposite realistic force that’s like “no.” Maybe? I don’t know. But the advocations do keep working, because it always feels like I’m right on the verge of discovering my ONE TRUE FIT, health- and fitness-wise, like how other people discover running and “love it!” or yoga and “love it!” or rock climbing, or whatever it is.

But anyway, I wonder this, because over the years while editing a women’s website, The Hairpin, I recommended various health-improving things I’d just “discovered” or otherwise adopted into my life. Usually the recommendations were a little breathless and oh my god-ish, like oh my god the secret to life is a STANDING DESK or oh my god the secret to life is THIS ONE PARTICULAR JUICE IN SAN FRANCISCO, and stuff like that. But what I’ve never confessed is that almost every seemingly transformative thing I advocated, I subsequently abandoned, usually within six months, or even days. But then it never quite seemed appropriate to make some kind of fuss about it, like “oh by the way I stopped drinking juice, I don’t even know why, mostly because it’s expensive and most of the kinds around here taste like shit, and I’ve never gotten high from it like I did that first time, and honestly without that high I wouldn’t have even gotten into juice in the first place, so who knows what was up with that. Aaaanyway, but I hope it’s still treating you well, or whatever!” At one point, though, we ran a story on the site by a funny woman who’d stopped using shampoo and written a guide on how anyone else could, too, “without becoming disgusting.” It was years ago, though, and I wonder if she is still “no-poo” today. I don’t even know if I want to know. No, I do, and I will ask her. But in the meantime, a brief list of the things I’ve dropped:

Taking a month off from drinking (join us for Drynuary!) only got me more hooked on cigarettes. And taking breaks from the standing desk only brought me to my bed, where I now work 100% of the time. Before the standing desk I’d been at least working from a chair. And cutting processed foods out of my diet only resulted in me being like wait, no, OH MY GOD SANDWICHES AND CROISSANTS as soon as I was like “fuck these beans,” and then I gained more weight in a year than I ever have before, I think, although I haven’t gotten on a scale since last February, because fuck THAT spooky machine. And giving/throwing away as many clothes, shoes, and shower products, etc., as I could in an attempt to clean-slate myself felt good and genuinely doable for a while, until people in comments section of a story I wrote about it called me out on being depressed, and I was like …. yeah, probably, but also I’ve had a shitty year, so that seems fine and natural, and I expect other years in the future to be better, so whatever, leave me alone! But then it was like, ehhh, maybe this is weird, so I stopped focusing on the throwing-things-out part, and now I buy shit all the goddamn time. Amazon Prime is at my door like EVERY DAY. And I have NO MONEY anymore. But that was also mostly because of a tax thing.

Anyway, not that anyone gives a shit and this article now seems like some kind of ouroboros of self-indulgence, but whatever, and I’ll keep going because I guess so far the only thing I’ve stuck with is stopping shaving (mostly), which I mentioned about in a story on eyebrows. I got my “perfect brow” done professionally, and it really was great, but I was also in a “fuck everything” phase, and had recently been inspired by this amazing photograph of Frida Kahlo, and thought extra hard about the shaving and beauty product industries, and the evil geniuses behind every development—and you really do have to give them credit for being geniuses, like you can ALMOST guess what they’ll try to convince women (and now men!) to despise about themselves next. And, actually, I will guess, and I’ll say that they will target back-of-arm skin splotchiness. Arm hair? Forehead hair? Who the fuck knows. Lip wrinkles. Haha, yes, my money is on lip wrinkles. ANYWAY. So I’m still growing in my unibrow, and I haven’t shaved my legs in months, but who knows what I’ll do when it’s shorts weather. Whatever.

I also stopped wearing underwire bras because they feel like shit and are a pain in the ass to put on, and only wear sports bras now, and have convinced myself that it’s somehow healthier, too. But then I saw how I looked in an oversize sweatshirt that showed how low my boobs were, and that the nipples were coming through, and it was like, ugh, okay. What IS THERE TO DO. These bodies are sacks of shit, but I guess the brains can be good, sometimes.

I’m still just using Dr. Bronner’s to wash, not that anyone asked, and mostly only olive oil and coconut oil to moisturize, but I also smoke two packs a week, drink too much, and never exercise or even really stand up all that much—or even sit at a desk—so GRAIN OF SALT. And my knuckles sometimes bleed from getting so dry and cracking.

Although I really want to tell you about this white noise machine I just got!!!!!!!!!!! No but it seriously has changed my life!!! hahahah I don’t even know if I’m joking or not!!! I mean I am but also it really has changed my life.

(And for the record, I still stand fully and enthusiastically behind Soapwalla’s natural deodorant.)

Anyway, I asked the shampoo-less writer if she ever went back to shampoo. She has not: “I am still shampoo-free!” she wrote. “My hair looks so much better now, I would never go back.” So, I guess…this is a long-winded endorsement or follow-up about a post from three years ago! Happy New Year.

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  1. Edith, I missed you. The Hairpin is not the same these days.
    Also, I always thought a standing desk would be cool. But I feel a weird relief now crossing it off my aspirational list forever, because I would also just probably end up sitting on my bed. Or actually the floor, tbh.

  2. Edith, this was great.

    I’m a little bummed that you’ve slightly abandoned your throwing-stuff-out-be-minimalist-forever routine, ONLY because it helped me get through a few lean (read: BROKE) months when I’d be so tempted to buy this or that nailpolish/hair treatment/blouse to make myself feel better. I’d think “No! Be FREE of things new and shiny and meaningless. Edith did it, so can you!” And while that phase didn’t last too long, it has largely curbed my knee-jerk buy-new-things attitude. Your timely article was a big inspiration for that, and I thank you. So, that really did change my life… forever? Maybe? Hopefully!