Dr. Brandon Mitchell says most people over-bathe. In fact, he told Time that humans only need to bathe “once or twice a week.” You know, if they don’t care how they look or smell.* Dr. Elaine Larson agrees, says that showering “is mostly for aesthetic reasons.” We think we do it for hygiene — to get clean — but “bacteriologically, that’s not the case.” They say our bodies are well-oiled machines. That showering too much is robbing us of said oil and potentially exposing us to infectious germs.
Curious: Does the phrase “once or twice a week” horrify or validate you? I’m pretty shook. Fifty-two showers a year would make me feel like I was permanently camping. Inside my body. Right? I mean, can you imagine? That’s a cadence for the birds. I wouldn’t have any friends.
I feel for the kid in me though, who could have sorely used this intel during shower battles. I used to view bathing less as a personal responsibility and more as a chore I had to do for my mom, like cleaning my room. I distinctly remember her sending me back in once after I admitted that I hadn’t actually washed anything. The whole point of the operation would occasionally escape me.
As I got older, I fostered a more nuanced love-hate: dreaded the thought, loved the execution. That attitude carried through to college, where I remember showering most days but also joking around with roommates whenever any of us managed to go three or four without. We weren’t overly bothered.
Today I shudder at the thought of going half a week. I feel a freakish drive to shower every night, probably as a result of dating a guy for so long who was personally adamant. His neuroses stuck. Now if I go to bed without showering — a rarity — I imagine laying down in the mud-pit-like x-ray version of beds in mattress commercials. Do you know what I’m talking about? That shit haunts me.
Anyway. Now I’m curious. How often do you shower?
*Has he met a person?
Photo by Arthur Elgort/Conde Nast/Contour by Getty Images; collage by Emily Zirimis.