A year ago James Hamblin, a senior editor at The Atlantic, started showering a lot less. Then he gave up altogether. “It was a very gradual process,” he tells me. “I weaned myself off it over six months and found myself getting less grimy, oily and smelly.” How often does he wash now? “I’m vigilant about washing my hands,” he says. “I will rinse off if I’m drenched in sweat after a run and need to be at dinner in ten minutes, or if I have terrible bedhead and look unprofessional. Other than that, basically nothing.”What, precisely is so bad about how people smell? True, some over-extend the privilege, but there is something like a $5 cat house about the body lotions and perfumes and whatever other sorts of camouflage smell-mongers can array before us. Chicken shit is pretty awful, I think, and pig shit can be the same, but walkin'-around body odor is ... well, isn't it just life?
Some scientists argue that regular showering disrupts the body’s delicate ecosystem and damages our microbiome: the rich community of bacteria residing in and on our bodies. One recent study found the Yanomami, one of the world’s most remote indigenous tribes living deep in the Venezuelan Amazon, hosts the most diverse constellation of microbes ever discovered in humans. The message is that washing less may not only be good for the environment – less water, fewer products – it might be good for us, too.
I don't know, but I do know I am taking fewer showers than once. Is it worse to smell or not to smell?