Collectively, we aren't huge fans of bathing. (True story: since I started working for the site, I probably shower 50% less than I used to. [So we smell! -Ed.]). According to two recent chronicles of cleanliness throughout the ages covered in T Magazine this weekend, we dirty girls — many of us Democrats! — may be closer to God than we realized. The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg in particular gets into the nitty gritty of early Christianity. "Christians, it seems, are unique among religious zealots in their disregard for cleanliness, a phenomenon Ashenburg attributes to a dogmatic refusal to care for the body or even feel comfortable in it, 'devaluing the flesh so as to concentrate on the spirit,'" writes Holly Brubach. "For many saints, monks and hermits, dirtiness became a badge of holiness."
The second book covered by Brubach is Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity by Virginia Smith , who reminds us that the idea of cleanliness is a fairly modern invention."Dirt is only matter out of place and is neither 'good' nor 'bad.'" says Smith. Amen! Also, we have boring Puritanical American petit-bourginess to blame for the "habit of showering." Cultural exports like movies and TV are responsible for the hegemony of "the hygienic ideals of the affluent American suburbs, including a fervent nouveau riche obsession with domestic and personal cleanliness." Sounds a lot like Donald Trump to us!
Soap Dish [T Magazine]