Thursday, April 1, 2010

Personal hygiene and other annoyances

It wasn't until I became a mom that I noticed just how much maintenance the human body requires. I've always tried to keep my beauty routine to a bare minimum, because laziness is one of my fundamental qualities, but still, even the base amount of work it requires to avoid shunning by human society is quite impressive. I would put in this base-level category: showering daily or near daily, deodorant application, washing hair, combing hair, drying hair (although depending of your type of hair, you might be able to skip that step without being shunned), brushing teeth, covering zits or basic makeup application, shaving legs and armpits on maybe a weekly basis (more is preferable, although in winter, you may be able to go several weeks without shunning), trimming finger and toenails possibly every two weeks; cleaning out ears with Q-tips. For the next level up in hygiene, which aims beyond avoiding shunning to avoiding being subjected to a televised makeover, I would add: further make up application to include but not to exceed mascara, blush, and some sort of lip color and/or moisture; more frequent shaving; applying body and/or face lotion; eyebrow and, after age 30-35, chin hair plucking and lip waxing. The top level of hygiene would be things I personally consider to be completely unnecessary, the goal of which is creating the illusion of human perfection: complete make up application, including eye shadow and liner, lip liner, bronzer or anything else that vaguely sparkles, and any other cosmetic product that exists but I am not aware of because I don't wear make up; applying sunless tanning lotion; teeth whitening procedures; manicures and pedicures, or the application of polish products to nail surfaces or dealing with the cuticles in any way; tending to "bikini" hair when not actually wearing a bikini; exfoliation of any kind; perfume application; using any other device or procedure or product to style one's hair beyond a blow dryer and brush/comb. Then there is dental flossing, which is basically the Mt. Everest of personal hygiene in my book because, despite its real necessity and low time commitment, I cannot make myself do it, even when repeatedly shown graphic images of diseased gums.

While I will never achieve the top level of personal hygiene--mainly because I didn't achieve it before I had kids and even when I was unemployed (I seriously don't know what I did with myself, but apparently not exfoliation)--I have mostly comfortably hovered in the middle category. And, no one has ever attempted to secure a televised make over for me, that I know of. But then I became a mother. When you have exactly 4 hours in a day that does not involve a small child affixed, or at least aspiring to be affixed, to some area of your body, you have to choose very wisely what you will do with that time. And if you wish to avoid forgetting how to read and write, or you want to be able to quickly and easily answer the question, "Who is the President of the United States," when asked, or you do not want to see your home declared the independent Republic of Toys and Germs, or you want to pursue any activity that develops yourself in any way, you may reasonably, logically, and perfectly understandably be unable to recall why human beings bathe. You may look at the oil slick that is your scalp and figure no one will notice because your roots are dark anyway. And a layer of anti-perspirant really does cover a multitude of missed showers. Besides, it's not like you really live in human society, so doubtful you'll notice if you are shunned.

Fortunately, I do live in human society three days a week, when I go to work, so I am forced to shower at least those days. So you can add "justification for bathing" to my list of reasons why I work, which include: justification for owning clothing that is not a T shirt; solo toileting; speaking standard adult English; being called by my actual name; thinking; eating; sitting; breathing....

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