Getting caught doing this during the Spanish Inquisition was a one-way ticket to the iron maiden. In medieval times doing it was believed to infect you with the Black Death. Early Christians considered it on par with idol worship. But of course the Romans were all about doing it. In public. For every occasion.
What is it? And no, it has nothing to do with the corporal punishment of monkeys.
It is bathing. Today, not bathing could get you a ticket to a mosh pit or a White Castle, both being the least-discriminating venues in our society. And though not bathing probably won’t infect you with the Black Death, you do start to smell funky after a bit. So while daily bathing will certainly make you less odiferous – especially if you workout every day – it isn’t necessary for good health. To be clear: I shower every day, mostly out of social convention I’m sure. But I only wash my hair a couple of times a week. (What? It styles so much better when it’s dirty!)
When it comes to social stigma, bathing is nothing compared to toileting. I’m usually a live and let live kind of girl but I get a little riled up about public restrooms. What plague it is that people are so afraid of getting that they must hover six inches above the toilet seat, misting it so it will be extra refreshing for the next girl? Toilet seats are not actually as germy as people think making the hover manuever we all learned as kids unnecessary. That is unless you just like getting a good quad workout in which case I say your aim had better be impeccable. Unless there is obvious splatter, I sit naked-cheeked on communal toilets. But then I’m generally kind of gross. I don’t mind sharing a fork with someone, even a stranger. I’ll shake anyone’s hand, pat any tot’s head and kiss anyone’s baby, although I do draw a line at kissing my mother-in-law on the lips which is difficult as she is a very insistent lip-kisser.
Thankfully I married a man with a similarly laissez-faire attitude. In our family, like our pioneer ancestors, our kids get a good dunk-n-scrub about thrice a week. In between baths, we do a “wipes bath,” which is exactly what it sounds like, to keep the kids smelling fresh enough to not alert their teachers to our negligent ways. We’ve also been known to count their weekly swimming lessons, telling the offspring to scrub between their toes whilst sitting on the edge of the pool waiting for their turn to have an intimate moment with a pool noodle.
What the Research Says
This will come as no surprise to you: washing your hands with soap (antibacterial is not necessary and may actually do more harm than good so just stick with regular) and water is the e=mc2 of the health world. Do it. And this is one of those things where I think it is totally appropriate to shame other people into doing it. Maybe it’s the mom in me but I’ve been known to tell complete strangers, “Oh is the soap out over there? Come use this sink, it’s got plenty.” when they look like they’re going to go straight from toilet to table at a restaurant.
Now that I’ve spilled my, ahem, dirty little secrets now I want to know – are you a squatter or a sitter? How many times a day do you shower? Does it feel weird answering deeply personal questions on the Internet??
Other places you can read me this week:
Top Ten Funniest Picture Day Outfits. You want to read this one. You will laugh, if only because you’re remembering your third grade picture where it looks like Lisa Frank threw up on you.
Can’t Remember Your Kid’s Name? Research Says Blame Birth Control. Kids make me forget stuff and now the act of preventing kids makes me forget stuff. I’d invoke a darned-if-you adage here except I can’t remember one.
Have You Ever Argued With Your Child’s Teacher? A painful experience with one of my sons made me, a former teacher, finally realize how impotent and infuriating it can feel to be on the other side of the desk.
The 4-minute Fat-Burning Miracle Workout. And no, it’s not just magazine hyperbole! How Tabata interval training revolutionized fitness.