So while New York might only just be emerging from a blanket of snow—ground still soggy, ponds and lakes brimming—there are many other parts of the country that are dealing with severe drought, places where curbside-moats would be a welcome occurrence. Where are these sad, dry areas where residents don’t run the risk of soaking themselves up to mid-calf based on one false step? Well, let’s start with California! In case you haven’t heard (which, pay attention, people), California is one of those sad, dry (and glorious, sunny) places which has recently imposed mandatory water restrictions on its residents—for the first time in state history—in order to combat the effects of a seemingly endless drought. These restrictions include things like cutting back on watering lawns, washing cars, and, as the New York Times notes, “even taking showers.” To which we say: About damned time—showering every day is kind of bullshit.
New York‘s “Science of Us” blog posted an article yesterday in which writer Melissa Dahl explores the costs and benefits of forgoing the daily shower, a ritual instilled in Americans since babyhood, when we’re swaddled in our duckie-towels or whatever and look super cute and get all sleepy and then go to bed so that our parents can start drinking and fucking or whatever it is that parents do after their kids go to sleep (i.e. catch up on Mad Men, probably). The fact is, though, that not only is the adult ritual of showering once-a-day just a relic of the time in our life when our parents were trying to induce sleep with lavender-scented Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo, but it is also about as irrational as it would be to shower once-a-week. Dahl confirms: “Americans’ strongly entrenched once-a-day shower habit is probably extreme in its own right, as dermatologists and microbiologists alike say there is no hygienic need to shower daily.”
Do you hear that? “No hygienic need!” To which I say: No shit. Taking a shower every day isn’t like washing your hands after you’ve touched raw meat (something that you should, by all means, keep doing). You’re not, after all, rubbing raw meat all over your body! (Are you??) In fact, you’re probably not even introducing any negative bacteria to your body’s biome throughout the course of a normal day. The reality is that pretty much all of us could not only stand to avoid a thorough scrubbing down on the daily, but would also probably benefit from it. After all, showering—particularly with soap—tends to dry out our skin and our hair, leaving us rubbed and raw and lacking in the natural oils our bodies create and crave. And everybody knows at this point that shampooing every day (or, even, ever) isn’t good for your hair, so why are we still obsessed with soaping up and scrubbing down our bodies?
Well, part of the answer is, obviously, corporate greed. As Dahl writes, “the rise of the daily shower coincided almost exactly with the rise of modern advertising,” and an excellent BuzzFeed article demonstrates that advertising companies have been exhorting women for over a century to lather up on the daily in order to be prettier. (There is no mention of Dove in said article. Shocker.) But the other part of the answer? It all has to do with personal shame—much of which is encouraged by advertisers, yes, but is also just a larger part of the cultural norm which has long stated that we should never feel fully at home in our bodies, and that if it’s natural, it could probably be improved upon.
This is bullshit. There is nothing wrong with not showering for a couple of days. There is nothing wrong with forgoing artificially scented deodorizing products which can maybe leave you with rashes and definitely leave you with a much lighter wallet. Showers take up too much water, yes, and they also take up too much damned time. Skip a few showers a week and you will feel free. FREE. Showering every day isn’t a luxury, it’s one of the small tyrannies which make life sometimes unbearable. And if you are showering? Try just using water and not too much soap. Rebuild your own personal biome. Remember that nothing good ever happens to people who take showers in movies. And live happily ever after. The end.
Also, one last thing: If you’re now totally into not showering every day but are still insecure about how you smell? Soapwalla came out with a new formulation of its all-natural, genius deodorant today. So you can get that if you want to maintain some level of pit freshness. It really works.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen