So recently I got this question about where in the bible can you find “cleanliness is next to Godliness?” I had to laugh at my response because it was: “Oh that’s in Habakkuk 15:5!” (Look it up if you didn’t get the joke). This question lead me to thinking about cleanliness and how often I take showers.
I can probably be considered a “clean freak” because in warm weather I average 1.5 showers per day (or one to two a day) and one a day when it’s cold. I do not like the “sticky feeling” nor do I like smells. It is a definite turnoff for me. I grew up in a household where I truly believe my mother created the word “clean”. She’s over the top with it and I’m her offspring.
I have read much research on this phenomenon and it seems that some researchers can make a strong case for this being a psychological effect of slavery. You see, Blacks were considered dirty by Whites because of the color of their skin. This added a psychological effect to those dark complected because they never wanted to be considered dirty. So, we cleaned. Not just our bodies, but our dwelling places, our children, our cars — everything. And why not, we were doing it for others. To this day the word “dirty” carries a horrible connotation in the Black community. When you call someone dirty it’s not merely a word, but an adjective that goes beyond the person who was called it, straight to their entire generation! Dirty carries with it all the other words associated with it like stinky, stanky, nasty, funky and filthy. It’s a syllogistic compounded adjective as it carries multiple insults.
With that said, I researched taking showers and bathing in particular to see if there were any medical benefits for doing it the way I do. What I found was interesting. There is no medical evidence that taking a shower every day is healthier. Taking daily showers is considered to be more social and aesthetic than healthy. It is said that the one a day showers are “somewhat unnecessary.” Our advancement as a country gave us more options than in other parts of the world. There are still people in other countries living in places that don’t have indoor plumbing, laundry facilities or multiple bathrooms. Cultural shifts in our society along with the stigma associated with bad odor, religious beliefs, clean water, climate and lifestyle are all key factors in moving showers higher on the list of important things in America.
There is also information stating that there are skin diseases and other things that make bathing a necessity. However, some US researchers at the University of Colorado did a study and found that “pathogens which occur naturally at low levels in water supplies can accumulate in high concentrations in ‘biofilms’ inside shower heads, meaning that every time you turn on the water, you’re getting a facefull of nastiness”. The pathogen is linked to pulmonary disease and is called Mycobacterium avium. They recommend buying a steel shower head.
On a lighter note, Australians are considered the cleanest people on earth because a study showed that people there take showers more frequently than any other group in the civilized world. Sixty-two percent of the folks there shower everyday; 29 percent shower twice a day; and nine percent shower three or more times a day. These figures mean that no Australian goes more than a day without taking a shower. And yes, we were included in this study and before you try to make an argument, take a bus or train ride or just spend some time in close quarters with your fellow Americans. You won’t ever want to eat another Whopper again!
It is good to know that there is cleanliness “down under”!