Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Thoughts on bathing/showering everyday


Bathing and cleanliness is overrated in today's world. Many times I've pondered on the issue of bathing - whether it is mandatory to bathe everyday or the media is promoting bathing just for marketing expensive bathing soaps, body-washes and after bath moisturizers and lotions. Well, in winters atleast one can skip the routine of bathing for two to three days. The kindergarten's over emphasis on "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" is etched on the collective minds of parents and children so that a normal day without bathing is seen as an extreme form of ungodliness. By 'normal,' I mean the days when one is not unwell and completely indisposed to the usual routine of everyday.

Bathing everyday, I think is a recent phenomena. If one types 'bathing' and searches for information, Wikipedia tells us how bathing began to be seen differently in the early 19th century when it was felt that frequent bathing might lead to better health. I also remember studying about the common baths of yore where bathing was a community affair which was more for coming together and enjoying some good time in the water and also cleansing and washing the body. But taking a look at today's scenario, it seems that bathing has become something of a mandatory ritual without which one becomes a social out-caste. But this bathing I am talking about is relevant in the context of only a certain section of the mainstream society and is not homogenous for everyone.

Talking of bathing, many tourists (not a sweeping general statement, please) I have known and observed don't bathe when they are travelling. They do it only in extreme conditions where they know they are filthy and stink. I think that is a better way of going about life. In summers, I know that even bathing two times does not suffice but in winters one can refrain from the conditioning of routine. But for most of us bathing is a psychological factor rather than a real one. The mind refuses to believe that the body is clean without the simple act of water over our bodies. But one can save water and precious time when one decided to go without bathing in winter.

Clean clothes always can make up for the no bathing days. As for hygiene matters, one can definitely get by without the myth of having to bathe daily. But for those who sweat excessively and have body-odour, bathing becomes a necessity rather than an aesthetic mandatory necessity.

So, the verdict is "If you can stand it socially, you can probably get by hygienically," according to Science magazine.

I've gone for about three days without bathing. I don't smell and I feel well. What about you? Still hung-up on feeling clean and good only with a bath/shower. Well, . . .

Postscript: The Indian bathing is the Western showering. Please don't confuse that bathing refers to bathing in large egg-shaped tubs with scented jasmine oil. Many houses in India have a simple bathroom which has a shower and taps and of course, buckets and mugs :) Whatever the size of the bathrooms, whether showering or bathing, the point is about bathing everyday.

Image 1: Internet


48 comments:

  1. Ewww! Seriously? Is this even a choice? :) I HAVE to shower at least once a day and definitely twice / thrice in the Madras summers. I feel sooo yucky if I don't :D To top it all, I showered even when I was in vacationing in sub zero temperatures in Sikkim :D

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    1. Our conditioning is so, Deepa. For many of us, bathing is associated with religion and other sacred stuff and hence the force of habit. Even I was like that. I bathed in freezing water while in the Himalayas. Not anymore.

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  2. I am a sucker for bathing everyday. May be because it is so deeply ingrained in us for cleanliness :).

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    1. Even I thought I was. Not anymore, Rachna. BTW, it's a great way to save water ;)

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  3. What is life without a bathe! Well everyone has his own perceptions but I guess I will miss it if I have to go without it for some reason!

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    1. I used to miss it and thought I was dirty (of course psychological) but I have changed, I reckon.

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  4. Hi, Susan Deborah! ~

    You always crack me up -- haha!

    I usually take 2 showers every day -- morning and night! Now, before you jump on me ;-) I will tell you that I don't feel compelled to do that as, if I would be 'bad' if I skipped a day, or even two, mostly when I get caught up in writing or other art projects and forget. I just like to take a short shower to start and end my day -- especially in the winter when I need to warm up!

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    1. I guess it's easier to go without bathing in a country like yours. Here the heat is a bit too much. The idea of warming up sounds nice ;)

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  5. I don't think you can live in India and not take a shower...the humidity is awful. When I was in India, I had to shower twice a day without fail. It's only since coming here I can do with just one. But I still need at least one.

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    1. Sometimes when one is indoors and the temperature is a bit sane, I guess one can go without bathing. The temps in Delhi right now are great for non-bathing day/s.

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  6. okay, so I'm the only one to side with you here. The place where I stay is super-dry and I have dry skin, so especially in winter, I cannot shower every day. I do cleanse myself, but I don't take a full body shower every day; just alternate days.

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    1. High-five Roshni. Sometimes the need for the bath is therapeutic like someone mentioned other days it's just a part of the every day routine.

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  7. I shower twice a day in winters!

    And (n+1) times in summers, n being the number of times I go out, and n > or = 1 !! :P

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    1. Even now in the cold of Delhi?!?! Save water, Ashima. The weather is giving you extra time as these are no bathing days.

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  8. Hi susie...reminded me of the discussion we had last time...good that you have come up with the discussion..but we can see by reaction that how everyone is addicted to bathing...me included...

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    1. Oh yes. I do remember. It's an addiction, for sure. Save Water, Save the Earth - DON'T BATHE.

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  9. I totally see from this point of view, myself having studied in a residential engineering college for 4 awesome years. Unlike the others here, I am not a stickler for baths, but being clean and neat is very much essential. Few of the guys in my college were regular bathers (a very small out-of-place minority) (Blame it on the weather or the self-induced laziness). But for the rest, Face wash creams, hair gels and deodorants were saviors.

    On a side note, guys in my college have had a disgusting record of going the most number of days without a bath. It had 'healthy' competition. (chuckles)

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    1. Ah, now don't get me started on those hostel guys. Good actions but driven by sheer laziness and in a place like Chennai those guys stink. So, you get a stink which is Sweat+Deo+dirt = YUCK.

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  10. This post will make my son very happy.
    A lot depends on the weather conditions, I feel.

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    1. Children love no bathing rituals. I think we should ape them (sometimes at least). Quite right, weather conditions is one reason.

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  11. seriously? Sun never sets in Chennai so does the heat. When I was in UK I never took a bath even for a week because there was no sweat even a drop. I used to wear same dress for 2 weeks as well But in Chennai I can't even go by a day, I sweat like a pig dude.

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    1. Welcome Guruprasad to the Meanderings.

      Ah, UK has such lovely weather. But there I liked to bathe. I have changed now ;)

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  12. What an idea, madam ji for a post! :D
    Well, cant live without bathing daily. Don't get that fresh and refreshing feeling till you bathe!

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  13. I hate to bath and hence im here magnet-pulled by the caption :)

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  14. well if we look at the animal world most animals dont like water .. so in the cave man time we were animals too..

    but I take a bath/shower Twice the moment i get up and once i have finished my shift .. well with all the gear on it is so hot and sweaty

    Bikram's

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    1. But you're in UK and you can afford no baths. Why Bikram why?

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  15. yeah i can probably delay the whole thing during weekends but can never be without taking a hot shower..

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    1. Delay is not denial! Bangalore man - one can easily go without bathing and still be fresh. But being from Chennai maybe it is a force of habit.

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  16. i think i need to make sure my son does not read this....ha....he would go forever without bathing if he could...smiles...i am an every day or every other day...i sweat too much otherwise...and between my pits and feet you would know i was coming...smiles...the weekend though i am good to go...

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    1. Here it's quite hot but I guess in winter it can be managed. i sweat a lot as well but not when I'm at home.

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  17. Three days? Seriously? Water shortage? I sweat a lot while cooking because it is a task for me and so I have to bathe.

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    1. No, Janu. Just like that. Trying to stretch the limit of non-routine ;)

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  18. I bathe twice a day...EVEN when I'm traveling. :) Is it overkill? Maybe, but I think it's because I live in a country that's summer all year round. It really is refreshing to take a shower before starting the day and before sleeping. Not only for hygiene.

    Showering twice has become a habit that I still did it during winter (when I lived in China). My flatmate thought I was nuts, but I don't feel completely ready to go out without showering.

    One thing to look out for in showering daily, though, is dry skin. I recommend Dove, a moisturizing soap. It works! And no, this is not a spam ad. Hahaha!

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    1. Your country sounds like India. It is refreshing but many a times, it is reduced to a mindless ritual and routine. I am against that routine.

      Dove!!! Good one. I use Dove shampoo ;)

      And Age, don't let your natural body oils dry off by excessive bathing.

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  19. My hair is what demands I shower every day. It just dies without its bath. However, I always smell sweet, don't you know?

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    1. Ah, I always knew that sweet people like you always smell sweet as well. Well, what is your fragrance? Rose, Jasmine, Bossy Betty ;)?

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  20. Blame it on my genes or my Grandpa, but I make sure I shower at least twice a day. I would feel cleansed :-)

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    1. Force of habit. Afterall, we are creatures of habit, Ashwini.

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  21. Susan, how do you come up with these topics? Made me smile. But I must tell you I do shower daily, it gives me a lift -perhaps more psychological than hygienic. But it's a treat for me to stand under nice hot water. When my mother and mother-in-law went into a nursing home, I was shocked to learn they bathed the residents every three days. You're right. They do not stink and it seems enough.

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    1. Smiles.

      Yes, no harm in not bathing for two days or so. We can do our bit to the Earth by saving water. And, maybe our cleansing agents also will last longer ;)

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  22. To bathe or not to bathe, these days for me it is usually dependent on what happens with the kiddos first thing in the morning. If I can't get in first thing in the morning for wake up, I don't bother. I refuse to shower at night, I will not sleep with wet hair, I just hate the feeling of it on my skin and my bedclothes get all wet. Can't (or wont) use a blow dryer on my hair so that is that. I know for health reasons it is not necessary, so I don't worry either way. I shower when I feel like it and don't when I don't. I never stink and am always presentable so what's the big deal. Great idea for a post. Brave too!

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    1. I like the way you see this, Jan. Oh dear, I realise that it's a very long time since you were here. SO glad to have you here. Hugs.

      What's the big deal, anyway. Exactly my thoughts.

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  23. I shower twice a day. For me it is therapeutic, relaxing and refreshing. Hygiene is ingrained in me. As I was born and lived in Mumbai for many many years, bathing was an absolute must. I cannot imagine not bathing.

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    1. Ah, the India in you forces you to bathe. And sometimes it is indeed therapeutic and relaxing esp the flow of water on one's skin.

      Thanks for coming by, dear Suzy.

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  24. I think in hot countries... it is necessary to shower everyday. People in cold countries can get away with showering whenever they want to.

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  25. What you say might hold in ice-cold countries of Europe, etc. In the permanent summer of India, bathing daily maybe required.

    Destination Infinity

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