Sunday’s New York Times Style section — the infamous, the one and only — features the front-page story entitled “The Great Unwashed,” about those cretins who don’t shower every day or use deodorant. “Ever.” The horror! Some of them, like the Times‘ first example, Jenefer Palmer, 55, of Malibu, California, even have real jobs and show their faces at “five-star luxury hotels.” How do these people do it?
A “soapy washcloth,” for one. Rebellion!
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.
We’re not farmers, the smelly ones and experts contend. Someone who wrote a book called The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History chimes in. And there are biological and environmental reasons to do so, like “[r]etention of the skin’s natural oils and water conservation.” Also, style:
Mr. Johnson, an every-other-day bather who resembles the late singer Elliott Smith, also confessed he lets his shaggy hair get oily so he can style it the way he wants. “Right now it’s cool to appear like you don’t care about what you look like,” he said. “You have to invest time, and often money, into making it look like you’ve done neither, or you can take the easy route, and just don’t wash your hair for a week and a half.”
The Observer touched on a similar swath of sexy women back in August:
“I know a lot of those girls and for some of them it’s real, you know?” said Mr. Hunter by phone. “They sleep in their clothes and then go to a party and they won’t shower, for real. I’m not a girl, but it must be a relief that that kind of look is acceptable because it’s a lot easier to pull off than throwing pounds of makeup on and trying to make your clothes steamed and unwrinkled and stuff. I’ve traveled with some of them, and they just throw their shit in their suitcase and they put it on wrinkled and then they just put dry shampoo in their hair. It’s a lifestyle.”
But if you read one thing this weekend about smelly people and battles with deodorant, make it The Hairpin’s “My Quiet, Mostly Disgusting Adventures With Natural Deodorant.” Here is a sample:
Anyway, once the tournament was over (I don’t even remember which of them “won” — it was completely arbitrary and I never used any of them ever again), I just stopped using deodorant altogether, half believing that if I could just leave myself alone long enough, body odor would somehow work itself out of my system (I’m a scientist!) and I’d be like some natural, scentless tree sprite. Well, it didn’t, and I just smelled like shit all the time.
Sorry, this is gross, I realize.
The Great Unwashed [NYT]
Twilight of the Dirty Girl [Observer]
My Quiet, Mostly Disgusting Adventures With Natural Deodorant [The Hairpin]