Do You Shower Every Day?

How do you know that you have to take a shower every day?

There are so many actions we take every day without questioning that I often equate us to sheep. Me included.

“You have to drink six glasses of water a day”, said my sister. Years later it increased to eight. Who came up with the number? Who was the expert?

“You have to go to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned twice a year!”  Do you? I actually have to go three times a year, and at the same time a friend of mine did not go to the dentist for eight years, and the hygienist said to her that she is doing a great job of flossing. My friend does not floss!

When I was a little girl, my mother would bath me in a big portable tub she would place in the middle of  the yard for all the world to see. I thought nothing of that, and I cannot remember when this public display of my body stopped and the bathing ritual moved indoors. What I do remember like yesterday was that it had always occurred on Friday afternoon, ONCE A WEEK! So lo and behold, for six days I was left to experience that feeling of dirt and sticky skin, and maybe bad smell? Who knows, I cannot remember a thing, only liking the attention of the neighborhood while I am being scrubbed. And all you readers and therapists can say whatever you want right now – go ahead!

So now I shower every day. Even the days that I don’t get dirty at all – because I move from my chair at home, to the chair at the office, to my bed, to the chair at the restaurant, and most of the dirt is probably from  LA smog …  but shower I do. I do feel bad about wasting so much water, when I am basically pretty clean. I feel bad knowing that there are so many people who would love to take a shower once a week, and cannot. I feel bad about our brainwashing vis-à-vis all the things that “we must do”, and especially those that I participate in unquestioningly and habitually. You see, when I was five years old I did not know that I was dirty.  No one knew that I was, because everyone else took showers once a week!

Women did not shave their underarms then, and no one thought that it is gross. Today I do, but then I did not. My mother never shaved her underarms, nor did her friends. Surprisingly, they all managed to have mates, and some even had lovers!

So the other day when a couple came to see me, and the wife was furious at her husband when he told her he put the kids to bed without giving them a bath – I knew that I was taking a risk by asking her what she believed was going to happen to her children without the dally bath. There was the risk of alienating her; the risk of feeling that I’m on her husband’s side; the risk of thinking that I am old and old fashioned and I don’t understand modern child rearing techniques, etc, etc, etc. Surprisingly though, after validating her anxiety about leaving the children with her husband, she felt relieved about the possibility of not bathing her children every day. It is after all, a pain in the a– to be enslaved to it.

So the next time, when you feel that there’s anything that you must do on a daily basis or a weekly basis, ask yourself why, and how do you know that it is so. And for goodness sake, skip a bath here and there, you will only be helping the environment.

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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in American, Daily shower, Habits, Obsession, Parenting, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Do You Shower Every Day?

  1. Ellie says:

    HAhaha oh this blog made me laugh! Here in Peace Corps Mongolia, volunteers who live in felt tents without running water usually shower once a week as well. Twice if your feeling ambitious!

    • rachel bar says:

      And this was the purpose of the blog, Ellie, to remind us that things that we do habitually become belief systems, without even knowing why. Also, that the rest of the world does not necessarily share our belief systems, nor habits.

  2. Dale says:

    Now if you could explain my son taking up to THREE showers a day!!!

    I do remember hearing that my grandfather taking one bath a week – usually on Saturday evening, after a long week at work (manual labor repairing bicycles), thus, being fresh for church on Sunday. This goes along with houses no larger than 800 sq. ft. (with 2-4 children) and closets, or I should say ONE closet, the size of present day coat closets, that held ALL my grandparents’ clothing! All I can say is that our habits have changed with the change in society – the need for MORE, MORE, MORE. Thanks Rachel for this introspection (sp ?). 🙂

    • rachel bar says:

      I am thinking a lot about how to simplify life and it is a work in progress. I too am guilty of the excess that is contagious to this society, Dale. Now, about your son and his showers…

  3. David Bar says:

    I think taking at least one shower a day is a necessity because while we sleep we sweat. I know that usually when I go out somewhere and I need to shake hands or give hugs I want to smell clean. This is coming from an adult but if it were a child I would most likely say that they are fine taking a shower every other day. Occupation does play a large roll for how often one must shower.

    Construction workers, mechanics, porn stars, etc……

  4. Sherry Brill says:

    I like the fact that you put into question our automatic actions which occur without question. It is so easy to become like an automaton, going through life and not living it. Thanks for the read and the reminder to think about our automatic habit.

    More than anything else in the post, I LOVE the photo. Cute doggie!

  5. Barbara Cooper says:

    I have never been one to do what “society” says is right. “Society” being the proverbial “They”. You only have to watch the news occasionally to hear that “They” can’t make up their minds about anything. One week, coffee is not good for you. The next week, it is. Chocolate is now in the news- may help prevent heart disease. (That one is just common sense- women are the big chocolate lovers by nature and we are known to outlive men!) Not to mention that I was in college during the 1970’s when the pill made old fashioned societal rules obsolete. So, no, I don’t follow the herd particularly of generations that preceded me. I called my mother’s generation the “Beauty Parlor Ladies”. These women went to the beauty parlor once a week and had their hair washed and set. Once a week!!??? My generation washes their hair every day. Is one better than the other? Who’s to say? I just know I don’t like the way my hair feels if it goes unwashed. Do we need a shower every day? Again, I’m not sure. But I do know my back feels better after I shower when I wake up. And I feel more awake too. Perhaps for me the shower washes away the cobwebs in my brain that are caused by sleep. The point is, I do what feels good and right for me. And, that is subject to change as I do. Do I care if people criticize me? Not in the least! I enjoy making my own decisions for myself. And I’m grateful that I can.

  6. Barbara Cooper says:

    Oh, and one more comment, Rachel. I know my day has a better start when I see there is a new blog from you!!!!

  7. Oren Raz says:

    I loved what you said Rachel. The experience is in the “eyes” of the one who experience it, isn’t it?! Thank you for this wonderful blog,

  8. Nancy Viller says:

    This is getting better and better. Kind of like a thought provoking and deeper “Dear Abby ” that years ago was ” a habit for many of us “. I really enjoy the way you change it up for each blog. Thank you for sharing your ever expanding Brain with us all.

  9. Margot says:

    I remember when I was in Europe many years ago and was astounded at how small their bathrooms were and how most were wet rooms without any private shower or tub … just a shower head and a drain in the floor … right next to the sink and the toilet. It was an eye opener for me in how cleanliness obsessed we in the U.S. are … just take a look at old Disney animation movies with all the handwashing and household cleaning. Anyway, I shower mostly for stress relief — sometimes twice a day or more — sometimes not even once a day, and only wash my hair once a week. No one’s complained yet 🙂

  10. Martha Carr says:

    Rachel – Love your blogs! Subjects are thought provoking, length is perfect and the photos provide wonderful icing on the cake! As far as showering goes, I am a hot bath fanatic (mostly in the winter when my bones feel cold) but I have pared it down from a nightly bath to a couple of times a week to save water. It helps my aching joints and I sleep better! I do shower though a couple of times a week too (never do both on the same day) when I need to wash my hair and in the summer it may only be that. (Or I wash it in the sink!) I have friends who also take “bird baths” – washing the most important parts of the body by hand at the sink between baths/showers. The frequency to me is more dependent on the kind of work one does or the emotional/psychological benefit. As you infer, many people continue to carry on a ritual because of what they believe rather than necessity. I think hot water is nature’s most healing gift!

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks Martha,

      What you refer to as “bird baths”, we used to refer to as “French baths”. Again realizing that we don’t have to be the same, and that it might serve us to think before we believe we “know”.

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