personal hygiene: having a shower/bath etc.

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Linni, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. Linni Senior Member

    Czech Republic; Czech
    The only thread (that I have found at WR) referring to my question is this one but I don't think the general question was really answered there. That's why I've decided to start a new thread. I hope no one minds it and that I don't break any rules. (If so, I am sorry :).)

    My family's acquaintance went, as an exchange student, to Belgium (just for a short time - maybe one or two weeks). She's been talking about it recently and told us that she had a shower every day (which, I thought, everyone must consider normal and usual!) when she was in Belgium, in the host family and on the day of her departure for the Czech Republic the host family gave her a small present - a set of sponges (for bathing) (+ maybe some soaps etc.) - saying that she must love water and showering when she has a shower every day!

    When the girl from Belgium came to the Czech Rep., she showered only two times a week (at least this is what my friend said). Moreover, they went on trips etc. and showering only two times a week, when you're sweaty, seems to be a little .... "unusual" to me.

    What do you think about it?

    How often do you usually have a shower? Do you find it normal to have a shower every day? Or even twice a day?

    (By the way, I'm sorry for my English and all the mistakes I've made. Feel free to correct me, please! ;))
  2. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    Are you saying Belgians are fine with showering twice a week:eek: My fellow Belgian boarders will be sure to agree that this isn't the fact.

    Quite everyone I know takes a shower every day, or every other day maybe.
  3. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    Moderator Note: You're right about the question not being really addressed before - the original thread started with a stereotype, produced a lot of chat, and had to be closed.

    If this one is to remain open, the question needs to be rephrased from "How often do you take a shower or bath?" to the following:

    How often do people shower or bathe in your culture?

    Discussion can involve water conservation, when it is considered essential to have a shower (ie, after running that marathon), availability of hot water, and what constitutes dirt in your culture (do you live in an area that thinks you're dirty after a day in the office, or are you allowed a bit more slack?)

    Please avoid personal perspectives such as "I shower daily" so that we can keep this thread open. Thank you for your cooperation.
  4. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    How often people shower can depend on how good the hot water supply is where they live.

    In modern Australia, most people would have a shower every day. In hot weather often more frequently.

    I have heard people discuss the "good old days" when people had chip-heaters.

    Apparently they were an Australian and New Zealand speciality.

    To have a shower, you had to get small pieces of wood [chips], and light a small fire in the heater, and wait for the water to heat before you could have a shower.

    The chip heaters were on the outside of the house. So imagine doing that at 6 am in the winter! A quick wipe of the salient features, with water from a kettle would have to do.
  5. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    In Spain it´s mostly shower, and of course every day. The discussion it´s not how many times do you have a shower a week, as everybody assumes is one each day, but if it is better to shower in the morning or in the evening.
    Small children have a bath, but when they are very small. People are encouraged to have showers and not baths, to save water.
    Of course there are people who don´t shower every day, and there are people who don´t wash their teeth either, but they´re the exception, and not the rule.
  6. TraductoraPobleSec

    TraductoraPobleSec Senior Member

    Catalan & Spanish
    I totally agree, sister Alexa. And when it's really hot in the summertime, it's also very common to shower morning and evening. I read once that Spain is the country in Europe where more soap is used.
  7. Lugubert Senior Member

    I haven't researched the matter, but it seems to me that most Swedish young people shower much more often than I do, some even every day.

    During my first school year or two, my class (boys and girls) went to the central school community bath for a scrub (in separate mini-tubs) once a month or perhaps every other month. I didn't think it was remarkable enough to remember the frequency. Some of us had showers or bathtubs at home, but had to go there anyway. At the age of 7 or 8, we had no problems with being nude together.

    How the soandso do you suppose anyone to know about others? It isn't a thing you discuss on every encounter, I think. I can't even guess the way and frequency my closest relatives and friends perform ablutions. An exception might be mother (91). She normally calls me (we live in the same house) when she's about to take a shower, so that I'll be close to the wireless alarm we've set up, should she fall and need help. Once a week perhaps, not too dissimilar to my frequency. Please keep in mind that neither of us had the possibility to take a shower or a bath when just feeling like it when we grew up. Moreover, most of the year in Sweden, we don't even find it possible to work up a sweat. Things are, however, changing with global warming.
  8. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    No problem with your English.

    I was actually going to post a similar thread here before, but never did.

    In the U.S. we have what others might consider an "obsessive-compulsive" attitude towards showering. Most people consider bathing daily ESSENTIAL and anything else "gross". Showering every other day is not acceptable. I personally don't think this way today, but during my more self-conscious and insecure middle school years, I always said I would refuse to go to school if unable to get a shower in the morning (which was a real possibility with our old well).

    Some people even take two showers a day, if they were physically active in some way.
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As a child, in the 1950s, we had a bath every week, probably.
    To have a bath, the water had to be heated.
    Our only means of heating water was a coal fire.

    When my children were children, in the 1970s, they had a bath every few days. We did too.
    We had friends from Australia who bathed their children every day. They were odd.

    Today, bath or shower every day is the norm.
  10. ERASMO_GALENO Senior Member

    Lima limón
    Perú, Español

    Here in Perú, most people take a shower daily, except perhaps in small towns where plumb water (not only hot water) is not readily available.

  11. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    I agree with HKK that this wouldn't be considered the 'normal' thing in Belgium. A daily shower is about standard, I think. Or at least a daily wash. I suppose there could be families where people wash themselves aan de lavabo every day and take a shower on a weekly basis.
  12. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    So the standard's one shower a day in the Western urban world, or so it seems. But another question is how long it takes a shower in different parts of the world. I am amazed that some people can have a shower in less than 5 minutes, including all the dressing and undressing and so on. I never stay less than 30 minutes under the shower myself.
  13. TraductoraPobleSec

    TraductoraPobleSec Senior Member

    Catalan & Spanish
    That is a good point, Ernest!

    I am also amazed at the people who are able to shower, dress and get ready in less than, let's say, fifteen minutes.

    If you go to the stores nowadays you'll see the huge quantity of products for personal care. Many people cover themselves in body lotion, foot cream, anticellulitis cream, face mosturizer, eye cream, you name it... And that takes ages... We women take about three quarters of an hour, more or less.

    What do you think?
  14. ernest_

    ernest_ Senior Member

    Catalan, Spain
    Hi Traductora!

    Men usually go faster than that, I reckon. Many men of my age do not even shave every day, and also there's the long-short hair factor. Men normally have their hair cut shorter than women, and short hair requires less attention. As for creams, lotions and that sort of stuff I don't know much aboot it, but I think there are a lot of marketing efforts going on trying to push these things on blokes, although without much success so far.

    Anyway, I think three quarters of an hour is long enough. Maybe I'll be more kind to women from now on and tell them that they look good. I mean, it's fair enough, if they care so much about looking good somebody's got to tell them that they do.
  15. TraductoraPobleSec

    TraductoraPobleSec Senior Member

    Catalan & Spanish
    You're right in all the things you say; I believe; and it's true, the "pampering oneself" factor is now being extended to men.
  16. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    I understand that some men, especially in Paris, have the same routine as women nowadays. Even in Asia, you can see these products for men in some big cities. For people my mother's age (mid 50s), this is something unthinkable, she already had a hard time understanding my sister's and my daily routines, not to mention that of a man's. :D
  17. ireney

    ireney Modistra

    Greek Greece
    It depends on the weather and well, exertion :). In summer hitting the shower at least twice a day is normal while in winter having a shower every other day is normal too. More (or less) exertion means more (or less) showers but, apart from some older people who can't easily break out of the habbit of having fewer showers/baths, not less that once every other day.

    What we won't do every time is our hair since shampooing your hair twice a day is not only a chore but a bit of a trial for your scalp. Every other day or once a day (depending on circumstances) is the most usual rate for hair washing.

    I don't know how long people take to shower in general. From personal experience I can only comment that some people are fast and some are not regardless of sex or the usage of creams, lotions and such. The how dirty one felt before is also a factor I guess (spend a long day running around in a city full of smog and summer or not you will feel the need to enjoy the feel of running water on you for a longer time; take a shower just because it's time for a shower and you won't spend any more time than you really need to).

    Edit: Baths are not very popular here. The main reasons being a) it's not as if our water resources are abudant b) most of us feel the need to have a nice shower and scrub really well before having a bath so the whole thing becomes a bit of a bother.
  18. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    It seems the modern, statistical average Finn is rather unimaginative in this: my perception would be once-a-day is taken as a nearly metaphysical ideal of hygiene and purity :rolleyes: ;). Another statistical assumption is the weekly sauna visit. (It's not even all that uncommon that flats have their own saunas, rather than a common sauna for a whole building...). Then, after these deep contemplations about the concept of hygiene Finnish people have, come all the "exceptions". I for one. I don't think I use very much more time than 15 in total for showering and all that, and it certainly doesn't add up to 1h 35 minutes a week :)
  19. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I *so* agree with you, panj.

    Once a week (on a Sunday) was our bath-time regime in the 50s and 60s. My parents' house never had a shower, so that wouldn't have been an option.

    I only began to have daily showers/baths when I lived in Spain in the mid-70s.

    I assume that this was what gave rise to the Aussie expression "stinking Poms" (= smelly Brits) .....

  20. palomnik Senior Member

    I think that the tendency has been for showers to become more frequent in the last 20-30 years, as more hot water is available in more areas.

    I shower daily, and so do most people I know. My parents seldom took a bath more than once a week, however, and they never used the shower.
  21. Bilma Senior Member

    Spanish Mexico
    Believe it or not in some towns in Mexico that is still happening. And yes, people get up at 6 0'clock in the morning and take a shower in winter. It is true that we do not have extreme cold winters but zero degrees C is cold enough to take a shower in those conditions!
  22. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    I can't speak for every Russian family, and obviously very much depends on water supply, which can be really bad in some regions of the country.

    But in my family, and in the families of my relatives, it's normal to take a shower every day. If I can't take a shower due to hot water outage, for example, I feel simply miserable.
  23. scotinfrance Junior Member

    GB/France, français/anglais
    Good heavens!!!
    would it be rude to ask what you do all that time?

    Judging from comments in this thread, i'd say we should address a message of congratulations to the advertizers who, in less than 30 years, have succeeded in persuading the wealthy parts of the world that natural human skin is offensive, that we cannot possibly appear in public without making use of hectolitres of hot water and innumerable chemical products at inflated prices.

    Unfortunately, the less wealthy parts of the world will soon be following the same path, until we run out of water or the energy to heat it.

  24. Tetabiakti Junior Member

    That's hard to say, quite frankly I never ask people how often they bathe. ;)

    The Indo-Dutch (Euro-Asians/'Indische Nederlanders') have always had a reputation for personal cleanliness, even before taking daily showers became the norm in Holland.

    Up until the 1970s, some (many?) people only bathed once a week, but in my family daily showers have always been the norm. I really do hate body odor, especially while traveling on a crowded bus or train!
  25. elizabeth_b Senior Member

    Planet Earth
    mexico spanish
    I met some time ago some people from India, and they took a bath just one or two times a week (specially on saturdays I think). The rest of the week they cleaned themselves (I don't remember what they used) and they cleaned their hair with talcum powder. I took acknowledge of this, because they told a friend of mine that they did this as part of a religious custom. They were from the southern part of India, but I can't remember the religion they practiced.
    So I think it's interesting that the fact of taking a bath can be attached not only to economical circumstances but also to religious circumstances.

  26. argentina84

    argentina84 Senior Member

    Göteborg, Sweden
    Argentina Spanish
    We have a shower everyday in Argentina...and we spend a lot of time.

    Luckily...we have water (so far).
  27. Wuasaby Junior Member

    London, UK
    Spanish (Chile)
    In Chile (my family, my friends, those I know) take a shower every morning, I don't know many people who have a bath or that use it. Sometimes, when I had Sports at school, I would take my usual shower in the morning, another one at school and another one at night at home.

    I can't speak for the UK, because London is a multicultural city. I've got a Belgium friend who I lived with for a while and I only ever heard him say 'I'm going to wash my hair' lol. I've lived with a German guy who goes and comes back from his shower in about 20 seconds! Everyone has a bath at home in here and hardly anyone has a shower thingy, which I find quite irritating. I know that many people here only spray themselves with loads of chemicals instead of a shower.

    I lived with a Colombian Family in London and they would always shower/bath at night as opposed to the morning. But I think that's more about the weather.

    @scotinfrance: agreed.
  28. Tetabiakti Junior Member

    Definitions of what is 'natural' and what is not vary greatly from one society to another and cannot be objectified. How often do you need to wash to keep your skin in a 'natural' state? Every day or once a week, month, or year? In the Middle Ages, many Europeans - wealthy or not - hardly ever washed, unlike the ancient Greeks and Romans, for instance. Members of the Aztec nobility were quite horrified by the personal habits of the Spanish conquistadors, who had forgotten what a bath was since the Moors left. The Japanese, too, have always been very keen on personal hygiene.

    In the 18th century, Europeans splashed themselves with perfume to cover up their body odor because they believed washing was bad for their skin. The perfume industry flourished as a result.

    It would be wrong to assume that personal hygiene is only for the rich. In many parts of the tropics, people tend to be scrupulously clean and those who do not have access to modern bathrooms are often very inventive. They use small amounts of water to pour over themselves and in some countries it isn't unusual to see people taking a bath in the river.

    When I visited Yucatán a couple of years ago I was amazed by the cleanliness of the people; some of the Mayans still live in very simple huts without any basic facilities and they have got a serious water shortage on the peninsula as well. But their huipiles (traditional women's garments) were always spotlessly white, and they appeared to bathe regularly (no body odor). Kudos to the Yucatecos for managing so well on so very little!
  29. laulunokka New Member

    OK, and traditionally the days for taking a sauna are Wednesday and Saturday (and after the sauna watching Urheiluruutu / the Sports news). ...Though in my family the sauna is heated almost every day! So we are pretty clean ;-)
  30. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Then, I would grant the Nobel Prize of Phisiology and Medicine to those advertisers.

    Their service to makind is beyond value.
  31. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    Dirty skin, dirty clothes, dirty teeth, dirty smell, greasy hair infested with lice are quite offensive everywhere I've been, from Portugal to Australia. Being clean is not a human trait: even apes clean themselves, and one another, scrupulously. I kind of doubt they've seen any of those advertisements you mention - and wouldn't understand them if they did.
  32. cloudy_ Junior Member

    UK / English
    There is a big difference between being infested with lice and not having a shower/bath everyday. I think that scotinfrance's point is that an over-obsession with cleanliness to the point that the human body is seen as something dirty is not very healthy either.
  33. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    But having a shower every day does not mean over-obsession with cleanliness.
    It is not necesary to use hectolitres of water and inmumerable chemical products to keep ourselves clean.
    Obsessive cleaning is an illness, indeed. But none of us is suffering from any obsessive-compulsive disorder because we take a shower every night. And I don't think any of us see our bodies as dirty things that have to be scrubbed.
  34. Wuasaby Junior Member

    London, UK
    Spanish (Chile)
    I never did read scotinfrance say anything against 'cleaning or washing' yourself. I think it's more of a 'pro-natural life against chemicals and unnecessary products' sort of view.

    I do believe that humans are by nature clean, obviously if something that doesn't belong to your body, you want to get rid of it. If your body is full of dirt, and you smell, you want to get rid of it, and a bit of spring water will do. What he means is that, in very little time, the media have convinced us that water isn't enough and that we need pre-wash chemicals, washing chemicals and after-wash chemicals. Day chemicals and night chemicals. Summer time chemicals and winter time chemicals. People spray themselves with deodorants which are full of Aluminium and alcohol and inhale it without realising. Now, how 'clean' is their body now?

    Funnily enough we went to a festival over the weekend with my friends. We're all alternative, anti-chemical, etc... except one girl who baths herself in these sprays and creams and chemicals. It might have been a coincidence, but somehow, she woke up the next morning full of red marks from little insects which didn't even come close to the rest of us. I believe it's because all those chemicals kill her antibodies and self-defence as well as 'wash her' : )
  35. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Well, some basics: My body (just to get clear that is not a personal subject) after a normal daywork (white-collar) of sweat under the clothes IS DIRT.

    The smelt is basically, the by-product of the corruption (bacteria-inducted) of the sweat plus some feromonae.

    I do not doubt some people is irrationally washing themselves ten times a day, but once a day in OK (and your expenditure in "chemicals" is negligible).

    I am unaware of the Aluminium thing, but I could say that the medium Earth-dweller "inhales" more alcohol by other means without paying so much attention to the harm to their health .

    Well, let us say I have an "alternative" explanation on why the little insects did not get close to you. :D Kidding.
  36. cloudy_ Junior Member

    UK / English
    Me neither. I have a shower every day but I don't think that people who don't do the same must have dirty skin and lice. I could have five (or ten) showers a day if I wanted to but that would be unnecessary in my opinion. Likewise, there are those who think it's unnecessary to bathe/shower every day. I know that for my parents' generation that was definitely the case, so something has changed since then. Bear in mind I'm talking from the perspective of living in a cold Northern European country. Obviously in Southern Spain and more tropical parts of the world it's much easier to get sweaty.
  37. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    You get sweaty under the clothes even in colder climates. I am more sweaty in winter with heavy clothes than in summer with more light clothes.

    In our parents or grandparents generation to have a cold shower every day was both heroic and expensive.

    Our grandgrandparents did not have in many cases a WC or running water and they did not make a big deal on that. They died of dyarrhea on the millions but the survivors did not feel the impulse to wash themselves.

    Thanks God and doctors, we learned in 19th century how the diseases spread and the herds of insects and rats have largely disappeared.

    Moreover, economic growth has allowed that (in W countries) to have a shower is both pleasant and cheap. So, why do not enjoy such a possibility?
  38. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    Ok, let's get things straight: my little daughter has a shower only twice a week at the most, and so does one of my nieces. They cannot shower every day as their skins would develop rash if they did. No chemicals for them, either. Just glicerine soap and olive oil.
    It goes without saying that I don't think they must have dirty skins or lice.
  39. Wuasaby Junior Member

    London, UK
    Spanish (Chile)
    I don't understand what is rational and what isn't. As someone explained earlier, for some cultures and ages, it's been completely 'normal' to wash maybe once or twice a year. They would consider you absolutely mental if they knew you showered every day. Why do you have the right to say that someone who washes ten times a day is doing something irrational? (And please note the my curious tone as opposed to aggressive lol)


    And LOL @ the joke haha :p
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2014
  40. cloudy_ Junior Member

    UK / English
    I can totally believe you. In the same way, I don't think that most people who don't shower/bathe every day have dirty skin or lice either (obviously some do). Again, I'm talking from a North Atlantic rather than a Mediterranean or sub-tropical perspective.
  41. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Why it is not good to have 10 showers a day:

    1) You would consume 10 x 20 minutes = 200 minutes / 60 = about 3 1/2 hours a day.
    2) It is impractical to place showers in every corner.
    3) Since we are not acuatic animals there is a limit for the skin to bear.

    Now for serious, and trying not to derail the thread: I think there is a (slight) difference among Mediterranean against N European in the frequency of their showers. I am based exclusively in the posts in this thread. Since there is almost unanimity in "our" side, there are people who defend as totally normal not to have a shower every day.
  42. brian mc New Member

    If it's an "us" versus "them" thing, then I think that we folk who live in colder countries are going to be in a very small minority on a global scale.

    Fernando, maybe 10 showers a day is over the top, but I'm sure you could easily have 3: after getting up, during the afternoon and at night. Even so, you normally choose to have just one when, according to you, more showers = less disease and more world happiness. So shame on you for willingly only taking one shower a day!

    If it's just a question of frequency, I'm sure that people who think it is perfectly normal to take a shower once or twice a week could easily come up with three reasons why every day is not a good idea. Let's see if they can do it. Maybe there are also those who think that one shower a day is not enough?

    But I think that understanding how people live in different parts of the world is a key point here. And yes, as mentioned, nobody around here would say they sweated more during the winter, unless they had a December discount at the gym or something.
  43. HUMBERT0

    HUMBERT0 Senior Member

    In my country you take a bath at lest once a day, one bath a day being the norm, though it varies, you might take a shower in the morning before you go to work or to school and if you perspired a lot because of your work or doing sports at school, or if you are going to go out for the evening, probably your going to take another shower.

    A shower takes roughly anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

    People take showers, to have a bathtub is not that popular, and in places where there is no running water “te bañas a jicarasos” you take a bath from a bucket of cold or preheated water using a small container “jícara” to pour the water to yourself, at least that’s the traditional way. Usually people shower early in the morning, they take showers the same in winter than in summer, in winter you just heat the water.

    And God forbids if by any chance they cut the water to your neighborhood do to repairs, and you can't get a hold of sufficient water to take a proper bath, in this extraordinary circumstance you might only take a “baño vaquero” cowboy bath, you only clean your self instead in the “lavabo” washbowl only the most necessary parts of the body, like face, armpits, etc. and you might finish in this case with a “baño a la fransesa” a French bath, use heavy perfumes to mask any remaining undesirable body odors.

    This side of the Atlantic there is the preconceive notion that people in Europe don´t bathe regularly, this was true of the Europeans that came to the New World, to take a bath regularly was something more common here. We still hear the horror stories when people return from vacations in Europe, when they go in to the subways “no se tolera el tufo” how it reeks, and how people stink from not showering more frequently, or how they don´t use deodorant and when the raise their arms…

    I think people over there develop insensitivity to body odors, because here people do notice if you smell and keep their distance if so, when I go downtown and I return home I can perceive a faint gasoline odor on my skin and clothing, or when a spend to much time in the sun, the skin develops a particular odor, people perspire in winter or in summer, obviously more in summer, never the less they produce odors.

    At least that´s how many people see it over here. :)
  44. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    No, this is not a (odor?) contest. The first poster wanted to know if there was a difference. The point is whether it exists or not.

    It is a legitimate argument to take my argument and reducing it to absurd: If shower is so good, why not to shower every day?, but a bit poor.

    I have not said (or meant) you sweat more in winter. Of course the more heat, the more you sweat (though there is more water in the seat). I meant that what makes you dirt is to wear heavy clothes all day long. And yes, the body sweats unless outer temperature is really low. Anyhow, do the "people from the North" change their uses when they travel to South?

    And again, I do not want to perform a thesis on sweat. I only wanted to remark that for some people in N Europe (and maybe I am generalizing too much) there are acceptable uses that are inacceptable to "us" (which, I admit, is another broad generalization).
  45. LaReinita

    LaReinita Senior Member

    East Coast, USA
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    Here in the US, it is common to take 1 to 2 showers a day. I always take one in the morning and if I'm am going somewhere in the evening, I will usually take another (this may be less frequent in the very cold winter months). Sometimes, I will take a shower just to shave my legs or wash my hair(anytime of day), but I go along with the regular ritual. I do, however, take reasonably short showers (except for when I am shaving my legs) because water is not free. I use VERY HOT water, and a lovely loofah for exfoliation so I do not feel the need to spend more than 10 minutes in the shower. And as someone stated earlier, you really should not wash your hair everyday. I would say that I only wash my hair about 2/3 times a week.(of course depending on how active I had been during that week)
  46. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    In some periods of the year, I get an unpleasant rash after showering (though it's not exactly seasonal). I've tried switching to medicinal bathing soap, but it didn't eliminate the problem completely, and it's expensive. I buy it only every now and then. I've talked to doctors, but they told me it "just happens" to some people. It does go away after a few minutes.

    I can shower once a day, but I don't normally do it more than once, for this reason among others. Another one is that I'm just too lazy. Still, I don't think I usually stink more than your average bloke.

    I also wonder about poor people who may not even have running water at home. No doubt bathing every day is not a priority for them. I don't think this is exclusively a cultural matter.
  47. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    As others have said, in the US a daily shower is normal and possibly expected. My employer even has a statement regarding daily personal cleanliness in the policy manual. It's part of our dress code. Some of my previous employers have had similar statements in their policy manuals as well. No, they don't check every day for compliance, but I imagine if there were too many complaints about someone's odor they might take some sort of disciplinary action.

    I do find it interesting that a company would feel it necessary to mandate showers...
  48. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    The skin of children is different and produces less sweat odour. Explanation here.
  49. Stiannu

    Stiannu Senior Member

    Torino (Turin), Italy
    Italy, Italian
    Ok, here I am: mediterannean and still not scandalised by the fact that some people do not take a shower once a day. As long as you wash daily some parts of your body (using lavabos and bidet*) most likely to produce sweat and bad smell (let's not come to the details), having a shower once every 2-3 days seems to me acceptable. But ok, you still need to keep clean on a daily basis.
    Don't you think that much depends on the person or his/her activities? Practicing sports or not, sedentary work or not, use of public transports or not (yes, trains in Italy are cheap but veeeeeeeery dirty), level of heating in workplace and house (in winter)? Even the trend of sweat and smell of bodies vary significantly from one person to another.
    I agree that taking a shower daily is nearly a dogma even here in Italy, and those who don't would hardly admit it... if we had to set a general rule, after all this would be a good one, but I think it's much more a cultural construction than a natural need. A fundamental hygiene is a good prevention for some diseases, but what is clean and what is not, or what is an acceptable smell and what is not, is totally a cultural construction. And judging other people's dirt has always been a good way of affirming one's own (moral) superiority. A definitely racist girl once told me she would never go to hammams because she wouldn't stand the smell of some people of different ethnicity. A TV series episode some days ago showed the main character, an American girl embedded in mainstream culture and self-centered, who was horrified at the idea of her roommate inviting to their house a group of environmentalist friends. "They will smell!" she complained; at first I couldn't understand, but I found out later that in her imaginary (and in the mind of the authors) vegetarians, activists and environmentalists were portrayed as some sort of hippies who dress lousy and never have a shower. With subtlelty, a political opposition or marginality is turned to a hygiene matter, with a moral connotation: it reminded me of the ridiculous attitude of the conservative (Italian) press against hippies and "capelloni" in the late 60s.
    In the end, I think that concepts of cleanness and dirt shoud be handled carefully, for they often carry moral connotations and are potentially discriminatory.

    *BTW the bidet is source of controversy and a good example of this competition on cleanness. We had a discussion with some French friends, where we argued that the widespread use of bidet in Italy demonstrates that we are cleaner, since we are allowed to wash some parts of our body every time we need. French responded that it demonstrates that we are less clean, since it allows some people to avoid their daily shower, thus resulting in less accuracy in personal hygiene. Who was right? :D
  50. avok

    avok Banned

    You were totally right. By the way, I did not know that the bidet is widespread in Italy. But in Turkey, every toilet bowl has a device that washes your special part (anus) . I don't understand how come this is not the case in Europe and many other places of the world. While I was in France I always had to use "wet toilet papers" to clean my special part but even so I felt dirty. And I believe that the idea of having showers so common is related to the fact that in Europe and Americas people just do not wash their special parts (they don't use bidet or any other device like we have in Turkey).

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