When I was in middle school, a girl named Claire took pleasure in making my life hell. One time, she took a fat, permanent marker and wrote SCRUB in giant block letters on my forearm.
It was the dreaded scrub test, and anyone who failed it was mocked as the funky kid who didn’t bathe. Why am I retraumatizing myself by telling you the scrub test story?
Well, because I keep thinking about it as my newsfeed fills up with fluff articles about celebrities who appear to be falling all over themselves to prove how earthy they are by not bathing often.
Or, in the case of actor Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock, showering multiple times a day. That dude gets clean three times a day. Ain’t no funk there.
Nope, I’m the opposite of a “not washing themselves” celeb.
Shower (cold) when I roll outta bed to get my day rollin’.
Shower (warm) after my workout before work.
Shower (hot) after I get home from work.
Face wash, body wash, exfoliate and I sing (off key) in the shower ? ? https://t.co/iE6ZPhrthL
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) August 7, 2021
And since people (mainly the celebrities themselves) are apparently obsessed, we just. keep. talking. about it. And debating every last point.
Thank u! This “ur washing your essential oils” is bullshit, just put on lotion. & “u need to build an immunity to germs” is bull. Every person I know showers everyday & they’re fine. All of my grandparents and grate-grands did too & they all lived past 100. Wash ur ass people
— Boss (@Hogt1Boss) August 9, 2021
Dude, wayyyy too many showers, no bueno for you skin! You strip out all your essential body oils doing that; ease off the showers lol
— Gideon (@Blitzkreg6) August 7, 2021
The fascination with celebs and their bathing habits has been happening for a long time.
One time, Brad Pitt admitted to using baby wipes to get clean. But recently, all this shower talk exploded when Mila Kunis revealed on “Armchair Expert” with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman that she “wasn’t that parent that bathed my newborns.” Her husband, Kutcher, chimed in to explain, “if you see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there’s no point.”
You may remember that dramatic exchange, our readers had things to say about it.
When you smell what The Rock is cooking it’s not stanky pic.twitter.com/JykouMbKwj
— Qondi ? ? ?????? (@QondiNtini) August 7, 2021
Now, as a mom of three kids, I tend to follow the same advice of Mila and Ashton.
My kids are all healthy, have beautiful skin and hair, and they don’t stink. They also bathe maybe twice a week. But in a world where 80% of Americans shower every freaking day, our less sudsy approach can look alien and weird.
Science has shown again and again that bathing once every few days is the sweet spot in terms of skin health, albeit there is no hard rule for what is healthy and what is not.
If my kids get filthy from running around outside, then common sense says they get a bath. We’re not idiots.
But the way the world exploded with judgment and scoffed indignation at the way Kunis and Kutcher parent when it comes to cleanliness left me thinking, “why the hell do people even care?”
And so I keep coming back to that scrub test.
Do we worry that as parents, we will be harshly judged for not bathing our kids enough?
Is this weird fascination really about an internalized anxiety that we might all be terrible parents if we don’t live up to imagined standards?
I guess if I’m going to fail an imagined parenting version of the scrub test, then I’ll be in good company.
Cameron Diaz hasn’t worn deodorant in more than two decades.
And remember Steve Jobs? He believed that a fruit-based diet would somehow erase any need for a shower, ever.
Jake Gyllenhaal swore off regular showering altogether. During a frank exchange with Vanity Fair, he said, “I do believe because Elvis Costello is wonderful — that ‘good manners and bad breath get you nowhere.’ But I do also think that there’s a whole world of not bathing that is also really helpful for skin maintenance, and we naturally clean ourselves.”
While the world is on fire, droughts are destroying the west, and everyone is worried about how to return to school thanks to yet another Covid variant, this bizarre conversation about how often celebs shower feels like the light break we all need from our terrifying newsfeeds.
Are celebs trying to appear “down to earth” by… not showering?
… Do they think *we* don’t shower???
— Maggie Mae Fish ? (@MaggieMaeFish) August 6, 2021
But also, who the hell cares?