Taking Showers

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Musical Chairs, Apr 6, 2007.

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  1. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    Is it true that people in France (edit: or anywhere else in the world, as I have realized that this isn't in just the French forum) will think you're strange if you shower and wash your hair every day? Why?

    I guess I can understand sometimes (stayed inside all day, no time, etc) but if it's during the summer when I sweat a whole lot, I'd feel pretty gross not cleaning myself every day! Also, my hair gets greasy (not presentable) if I don't wash it every day or at the very least every other day.

    Moderator Note: If this discussion is to continue, please phrase your posts to answer the following question:

    Is there a general standard for frequency of basic hygiene (showers, toothbrushing) where you live?

    Speculating on and critiquing the hygiene of other cultures is not welcome.

    Thank you.
  2. maxiogee Banned

    Is it true that people in ..... will think you're strange if you don't shower and wash your hair every day?

    Why are people continually surprised that things they do are not universal practices?
  3. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    No, apparently they really don't shower as often in France as they do in the US (or other countries).

    I'm just interested to see what people think of not cleaning themselves every day, especially in the summer when bodies sweat and smell a lot. It's not the same as being surprised that they don't eat fries in Azerbaijan even though people in America do (this is arbitrary and I don't know if that's true or false but I hope you get my point).
  4. maxiogee Banned

    You don't seem to get mine. ;)

    It's all arbitrary. I have no idea how often 'people in Ireland' (or anywhere else, for that matter) take showers.
    I don't need to know.

    I've been to France - and the people I encountered there weren't any smellier than those I encountered anywhere else. Was I only meeting or passing by the ones who shower very frequently? I doubt it.

    You seem to be of the impression that there is some sort of international norm and that France doesn't meet the standard of this "US and other countries".
  5. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    I don't *need* to know anything I ask here, but I'm interested in what people all over the world think of cleaning or not cleaning themselves often. I asked for the sake of discussion. And I didn't find it particularly *surprising* that some people don't take showers every day, because even I don't sometimes! I just want to know how they feel about that. And yes, I've been to France and I don't remember them smelling bad.

    I don't expect that everyone in the world showers every day but wondered why they wouldn't. Waste of water? Waste of time? Unnecessary? Too busy? etc
  6. mirx Banned

    Hi Musical Chairs.

    There's this prejudice in America(s) that people in Europe are not very fond of taking showers everyday.

    And I must agree to that to some extent. Of course, just as most things, this is rather a personal matter than a nation's one.

    But I was surprised that when I started in my new job, the trainer suggested that we take a shower everyday, in México that is something overunderstood, no one would bring such a thing in a trainning course. It is taken as a fact that everybody takes a shower everyday, just like brushing your teeth or changing clothes.

    And, in my own experience I shared a flat with French, Italian, English, American, Polish and Irish people.

    Only the American and the Polish girl took showers everyday.

    Do I find it gross, abnormal, disgusting or else?
    Not really, I just say, these people happen to have a difference concept of what personal hygiene is.
  7. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    There is a stereotype in America that people who don't take showers smell bad, but I don't think that's true. I can go a few days without taking a shower and while my hair would look greasy, I wouldn't smell bad, at least not from a reasonable distance. But it would make me feel unclean because I have oily skin and I'm used to taking showers every day.

    One thing I think is interesting is that people in America brush their teeth in the morning right after they wake up. I think that there's no need to when you've had nothing to eat yet, and you should wait until you've eaten breakfast.

    That's interesting that your trainer suggested that you take a shower every day. What would happen if you didn't?
  8. mirx Banned

    I don't brush my teeth just after I wake up, and never have, but my siblings, cousins and pretty much everyone I know does. It is proven that many bacteria form during all the hours that we are sleeping, and it causes bad breath in some poeple. Besides many of them don't take breakfast after 3 or 4 hours after they wake up, so brushing their teeth seems very reasonable to me.
    I don't have bad breath in the mornings, and I do eat breakfast 10 min after I've woken up.

    That's the same thing that rose my curiosity, she made it sound like it was an advantage if you took a shower, like it was better if you did. Where I come from those things are not suggested, there's no better way. There's only one way understood by everyone, that is "taking a shower everyday".
  9. Musical Chairs Senior Member

    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    I've heard that bacteria builds up in your mouth during the night, but I notice a big change when I brush my teeth and when I brush, floss, AND rinse my teeth, which I know most people don't do. If I don't have breakfast and I feel that I have bad breath, I just chew gum because I simply see no point in brushing my teeth for nothing.

    I guess those things are alright if you can't tell that you haven't been doing them. That's my attitude towards not brushing my teeth in the morning and with showering every day (because of the greasy hair).
  10. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    Moderator Note: (This is a repition of my edit in the first post of this thread.) If this discussion is to continue, please phrase your posts to answer the following question:

    Is there a general standard for frequency of basic hygiene (showers, toothbrushing) where you live?

    Speculating and critiquing the hygiene of other cultures is not welcome.

    Thank you.
  11. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    This question is simply impossible to answer on anything other than an anecdotal level.
    Some people shower twice daily and some people shower once monthly.
    I doubt that culture has anything to do with it.
    I doubt that there is a general prejudice in America that considers people who do not bathe often to be unsanitary.
    All that is necessary for hygiene is tops and tails and armpits. This can be done with a wet rag and a glass of water.
    The rest is pure indulgance and luxury.
    For every American who bathes daily you will be able to find one who bathes monthly and the same would apply for most places populated by people.

    The only answer anyone can give to this thread is their own personal experiences and maybe what they have been 'told' by their aquaintances and this is not necessarily true as people are known to fudge the truth about washing hands and such.

    As in general it is not possible to generalise on such a subject.

    I shower twice daily and take three spas daily and shave both areas twice daily.
  12. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I assure all readers that the assumptions thus far stated in this thread--

    1) That French people have 'lesser hygiene' than other people, and
    2) That Americans hold such a view of French people

    are utter nonsense.

    This is based on my own vast personal experiences and prejudices, which adhere to the highest standards of
    hygiene. The bacteria agree with me, and there are millions of them.

    This thread provides a profound cultural insight: If you say something, anything, about another group of people, no matter how silly it may be, there will be others who will join in the conversation, and tell us their
    equally well-informed opinions. When it is all said and done, we will be in need of a shower.

    Studies show that for every unfounded rumor, their are 8.4 counter-rumors. In technologically advanced cultures all of these are subject to Newton's Third Law of Hygiene, which as you well know tells us that the
    square root of a rumor, if buried at the foot of a sassafras tree on a night with a full moon will have no effect on the frequency distribution of leaves with one, two, or three fingers. These fingers are called lobes in some
    countries. Have a look here.
  13. maxiogee Banned

    Was that post of yours sass or back-sass?

    befuddlement strikes yet again. :confused:
  14. Benjy

    Benjy Senior Member

    Milton Keynes, UK
    English - English
    triple salto sass?

    You might claim that none of your felow countrymen hold these veiws, but I have 8.4 personal anecdotes that prove you wrong!
  15. xrayspex

    xrayspex Senior Member

    Florida USA
    USA English (southern)
    Your body adapts to conditions. Skin wants to be oily. If you bathe every day, your body will respond by making more oil, resulting in more bathing, resulting in more oil, etc etc until some balance is reached. I shower every day because Mrs. Spex doesn't like for me to come to bed unless I'm Clean (with a capital "C"). It has not always been thus, particularly between the first Mrs. Spex and the second Mrs. Spex. When I didn't shower every day, I didn't get as greasy, hair or body, which I saw as a "problem" solving itself.

    I may be weird for an American, though. I don't really mind the smell of a human being.
  16. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Houston, TX USA
    American English
    Well, in order to keep this discussion going, I will reply to the mod's interpretation of the question:
    I don't know that there is a "standard" here in the USA for how many times you bathe/wash your hair, etc.

    I do know that dentists recommend you brush your teeth at least twice a day to keep the plaque from building up to a dangerous level.

    Other than that, I would say, the frequency at which you practice personal hygiene would depend upon how much odor you could tolerate from yourself, and how much odor/unsanitariness you would be willing to inflict upon others...

    (I myself prefer the once-a-day bathing/shower routine...as my father used to say, "It's pretty bad when you can't stand your own smell...")
  17. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Personally I see this comment as nonsense (no offense cuchu!)

    But I've seen way too many skits on French people, with interviews with people on the street, and spread through stand-up and many programs, and main programs feed into stereotypes, plus hearing Americans in real life comment the same way.
    This stereotype of French people being less hygenic is very common in America, mainly through comedy.

    There was one I was watching last week (I can't remember the show) but it ended with a comment saying "Yeah, It's called SOAP" - and a big bar of soap appearing on the screen behind the presenter, in a skit about French people.
  18. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Well I am French so you should trust everything I say about France and French people in general.
    I am not a pig, I clean my armpits with Q-tips every other day. I water my left foot with cologne on Tuesdays (after my tap-dance class), and the right foot at full moon (I'm a left-foot tap-dancer). The rest stays clean most of the time. If I start leaving stains on the sofa, then I go to the car wash and ask for the whole shebang - that's the only way I know to be really clean. You don't do this in the US??? As for teeth I usually brush my upper teeth before I go to bed and the lower ones after breakfast, that way my mouth is always half-clean. I like things well balanced. The people I know all do the same; all two of them. So there. Shower? What is shower?

    I don't expect that everyone in the world does the same as I do, but wonder why they wouldn't.

    That being said, it seems that there are a few people in the world who indeed wonder about French hygiene. Oh well - as long as they talk about us! :D
  19. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    No offense Alex, but...

    If you wish to form opinions based on your vast experience of comedy programs aired in Martian caves,
    and project from these to a dogmatic view of what people in a faraway land think of French people, you
    will have joined Donald Rumsfeld as an expert on the French people, and your bacteria will no doubt agree with you.
  20. maxiogee Banned

    They do indeed 'feed into' - not 'deliver out of'. (Could it be that the image comes from the stereotype? How many Americans who hold the image have actually met a Frenchperson?)
    Stereotypes may well be 'common' to a degree but it doesn't mean that anyone actually thinks that way.
    I know of no American who actually fits the image most Irish people have of 'an American' - the character who springs to one's mind's eye when a comedian begins a gag with the words "An American tourist was in …". I doubt any Irishperson does know such a person, but they know the stereotype.
    Americans might be stereotyped as believing that the French don't wash, but it doesn't mean that any of them actually think it. This, I think, is the kernel of cuchuflete's point.
  21. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Programs that make fun of people surely must have a connection with what viewers think, otherwise they wouldn't be funny, right? If a joke about a French person is made, then it will be to fit a pre-existing stigma and then exploit it. I don't understand why you dismissed my comment because it was on a "comedy" show.

    Once it's used frequently, surely people think there is something to it, else how did it ever come about?
  22. maxiogee Banned

    No. Comedy can be funny because it lets us think that something it portrays might be true.

    A related example from the field of fiction - what generated the concept that Martians (in those caves cuchuflete mentions) are "little green men"? The concept came out of thin air and is groundless - not because there aren't any Martians here on earth, but because those that there are are not little, green or men.

    The continuous use of a stereotype reinforces the belief — in the minds of those who use the stereotype as a shorthand — that the stereotype is widely held. It may not be even be held (let alone widely), but it is believed to be.
  23. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Is this not what we are talking about here?
  24. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    As long as we are discussing international standards of hygiene, I have to wonder what differences, if any,
    exist between those who spend hours watching comedy programs on television, and those who spend their time
    on less rigorous pursuits, such as contemplating the evening sky. In your culture, is there a greater propensity to
    shower among either of these population segments?
  25. maxiogee Banned

    It doesn't seem to be.

    You seem to be saying that the stereotype exists because there are ordinary people who hold it (you don't say whether you think they believe it, just that they hold it).
    I am saying that not only might it not be believed, but it may not even be held — that it is enough for those lazy comedy gag-writers (who use it as a shorthand for a Frenchperson) to believe it is held for them to continue resorting to it.
    In fact, they may not even believe it is held, they just fall back on it anyway.

    We Irish know a thing or two about stereotypes - both being on the receiving end and on the giving end, and they're hard to kill.
  26. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    This 'apparent' state of affairs has now been confirmed by the viewing of an unspecified number of
    TV comedy shows and interviews by a single member of these forums. With such rigorous scientific proof at hand, what more is there to discuss? Statistics show that...
    Research proves that...

    What about standing in the rain? Does that count as a shower?
  27. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    I now bow to the stereotype of the mean Canadian mod who only washes when she removes her suit of long underwear at the end of April..... and duly close this thread.
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