The XX Factor

Abstaining From the Shower: Not Just for Hippies Any More!

Tilt your nose up and take in a gentle whiff of air. That smell? It’s the unwashed. The New York Times wants you to know that these people walk among us shamelessly contaminating our sterile, Glade-scented surroundings with their “personal perfume.” Take Tara Freymoyer, 26, a property manager in Birdsboro, who gave up using underarm deodorant when she started dating one Mr. Merkel, a fellow deodorant abstainee whose battle cry to shocked friends and family is, “Smell me! I don’t care.” Alice Feiring, a wine writer in Manhattan, says her mother just doesn’t understand her four-times-a-week shower schedule. (Personal disclosure: I shower four times a week and my mom’s reaction today to this information was, “So?”)

Despite the somewhat overblown “Look at this new unacceptable thing people are doing!” aspect of the article, apparently there are good reasons to shed the shackles of WWII-era aseptic hygiene. According to Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California-San Diego, showering too often rids the skin of the good bacteria that “produce their own antibiotics that kills off bad bacteria.” And the skin can lose critical oils, especially in the winter. Also, there are more stylized perks. One deodorant-defiant young man, Blake Johnson, 25, mentions this bonus: “Right now it’s cool to appear like you don’t care about what you look like.” It’s like a trend story within a trend story, this piece.

Photograph of former hippie by Mario Tama for Getty Images.