Did anyone else wish that Catherine Saint Louis’ Sunday Styles story came with a scratch and sniff test this week?
It’s filled with all these really pretty people, like the super cute organic skin care maker, the built L.A. actor guy, and also this completely hot eyeglass salesman who don’t bathe or wear deodorant with any regularity and thus, must battle against the unwashed stigma every single day like so:
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.)
Time for an over-share: I take at least one no-shower day per week, more out of laziness than any higher environmental health calling. And by the end of the day, I can smell myself. Um, a lot. So I’m puzzling over this one.
On the one hand, I love the whole less is more beauty ethos (as championed by those infrequent showerers over on No More Dirty Looks). Post-Beauty U, I’m having fun cutting down on a lot of the beauty work that became non-negotiable while I was there. Again, lazy (and cheap!) but: Basically every time I run out of a personal care product right now, I’m making a game out of seeing how long I can last without it. So far, I’ve nixed facewash and hair spray (honey, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar are filling in nicely). I did cave and buy conditioner after about a week of tangled straw hair, but I’m about to use up the last of my body lotion and shower gel any minute now. Anything. Could. Happen.
Plus, as Saint Louis explains, there are plenty of great reasons for showering less from healthy bacteria to not over-drying your skin. And you can’t turn around right now without falling over yet more research about all of the chemicals in our personal care products. Just last week, Anne C. Steinemann, PhD, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Washington, published a new study that found an average of 17 unlisted chemicals in 25 commonly used scented lotions, soaps, shampoos, cleaning supplies and other consumer goods. Of the 133 different chemicals detected, nearly a quarter are classified as toxic or hazardous under at least one federal law.
On the other hand: I have definitely smelled friends who have gotten on this bandwagon and have maybe, ah, adjusted to how they smell sans soap? So if people are telling Mr. Felix, “you think you don’t smell,” I’m thinking maybe they are politely trying to give him a hint.
Which brings us to the key question: Why is smelling funky considered such social death anyway? Because it’s a (subtle yet pervasive) beauty standard, of course. I started out joking about all the pretty people in the article, but it’s also no accident that the NYT managed to find such fresh-faced beauties to be the spokespeople of Team Dirty. If they’d shown a bunch of older, less conventionally attractive, or — God forbid! — fat people, they couldn’t even have done the story. Because unattractive people not smelling great is not news.
So I guess, we’re doing a funny kind of reclaiming thing here, by saying “hey, you can skip showering and still be totally attractive!” And I like all the environmental health and just-be-lazy reasons for the message. But — maybe because walking around potentially stinky is one beauty hurdle I’m personally not ready to leap over yet — it’s still sitting more like “here’s one more thing beautiful people get to do that the rest of us can only dream about.”
PS. Don’t forget to vote today. Good work.