Via my pal, Cara Ellison, I’ve learned that there’s a hot new sophisticated trend that’s apparently catching on to such an extent that even the New York Times has been forced to report on it. What’s this sassy new trend? Not taking showers:
Defying a culture of clean that has prevailed at least since the 1940s, a contingent of renegades deliberately forgoes daily bathing and other gold standards of personal hygiene, like frequent shampooing and deodorant use.
To the converted, there are many reasons to cleanse less and smell more like yourself. “We don’t need to wash the way we did when we were farmers,” said Katherine Ashenburg, 65, the author of “The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.” Since the advent of cars and labor-saving machines, she continued, “we have never needed to wash less, and we have never done it more.”
“I’m going to sound like dirty Katherine in this article,” she said, “but it doesn’t matter. I’m still invited to dinner parties.”
Retention of the skin’s natural oils and water conservation are two reasons Ms. Palmer and others cite for skipping a daily shower. Some have concluded that deodorant is unnecessary after forgetting it once with no social repercussions, or are concerned about antiperspirants containing aluminum, even though both the National Cancer Institute and the Alzheimer’s Association don’t share those concerns. Shampooing as little as possible can help retain moisture in dry locks and enhance curl shape, argue adherents of the practice; for some men, it’s about looking fashionably unkempt.
Resist the urge to recoil at this swath of society: They may be on to something. Of late, researchers have discovered that just as the gut contains good bacteria that help it run more efficiently, so does our skin brim with beneficial germs that we might not want to wash down the drain. “Good bacteria are educating your own skin cells to make your own antibiotics,” said Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California, San Diego, and “they produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria.”
That’s a new one, isn’t it? They’re trying to make living like a stinking dirty hippy sound like science. I kept waiting for them to explain how the only way we can save the polar bears is to live in our own filth. Well, I guess they have to save something for the follow-up piece, right?
Of course, it’s not all fun and games because all you conformist squares (That would actually make for a counterintuitively cool band name) out there expect the people you associate with to be cleaner than the homeless:
To keep his body odor in check, (Todd Felix) takes a daily shower with an unscented Dove body wash, usually after the gym. But Mr. Felix, who is in his early 30s and doesn’t want to be taken for a hippie, is cautious about disclosing that he doesn’t wear underarm protection to people he dates. “When you tell a person you don’t wear deodorant, you come across as, ‘Oh, how European, how natural, how funky,’ ” he said.
The few times Mr. Felix has mentioned on a date that he goes without deodorant, he said, things have quickly turned, well, sour. “It’s weird, but I don’t smell,” Mr. Felix will announce. Then, he said, “the comment is always, ‘You think you don’t smell.’ ” (Mr. Felix admitted that he lives in horror of having the rare fetid day.)
But Matt Merkel, an engineer from Birdsboro, Pa., is sure he smells just fine. How? Recently, Mr. Merkel, 29, told his mother and sister that he gave up the old Speed Stick as a teenager, and they were shocked. “I was like, ‘Smell me, I don’t care!’ ” he told them, adding, “They probably just thought I was still 13 or 14, and doing that because somebody told me to.”
…Recently, the Investment Banking Club board, whose membership is made up of 20 percent of the students at Columbia University’s business school, sent a “friendly reminder” of some “personal hygiene basics” to members seeking jobs. One commandment: “Carry anti-perspirant with you if you are worried about sweating.”
…John Wesley Wilder Jr., 30, a salesman at an eyeglass store in Philadelphia, is not only a convert to unwashed hair — he shampoos only once a month with Head & Shoulders to reduce frizz, he said — but also to what one might call his personal perfume.
“I was getting used to not smelling like Old Spice, and smelling like myself,” said Mr. Wilder, who forwent underarm protection for three years. However, this past summer’s heat wave forced him to reconsider. “The moment I didn’t shower, it was terrible,” he said. Now he occasionally uses a natural deodorant.
I guess this proves that one person’s “personal perfume” is another person’s, “I want to retch every time you get within five feet of me.”
P.S.: There just something so, so, so….LIBERAL about this article. Anything that’s decent, good, or helpful to civilization, liberals have to find a reason to oppose — even CLEANLINESS. I look forward to the next trendy New York Times piece on why it’s cool to pee in the pool and litter.