BIPOC Voices, Opinions, Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Let’s talk about not Showering and how it’s white privilege

White people not showering is somehow ok and not “dirty”?

words by: Alee Kwong
Sep 28, 2021

Alright, so as I’m sure we’ve all heard, a lot of people don’t shower regularly and don’t wash themselves properly (especially staying home all day during the pandemic).


Many (white) celebrities like Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Swift (just to name a few) have proudly stated that they don’t adhere to a traditional shower schedule and will go as far as saying that they won’t shower until they can smell the stink on themselves. Not only are people not showering regularly, but when they do shower many of them aren’t washing their legs — claiming that “the water runs down them and cleans them for me”. Don’t even get me started on the “swimming in a pool is like a bath” discourse.


I didn’t think that this would need to be an actual discussion or that we would find ourselves in a place where we even needed to convince people that showering is healthy — but here we are.


The racist issue at hand

Look, I’m not here to push my hygiene standards onto other people or shame people for making the choice to not bathe themselves. Am I concerned? Extremely. Could you say that I am mildly grossed out? Sure. But at the end of the day, it’s really to each their own. Considering I am a full supporter and proponent for being cool when people decide to exercise their free will, why does the subject about the lack of showering bother me? Well, to be honest, it’s because of racism (cue the TED Talk lights).  Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s about racism — but this is the reality we live in. When white people proudly incorporate something into their lives that they have historically and unabashedly used as an excuse to racially profile, harm, and outcast POC, it becomes a topic of discussion and needs to be brought to people’s attention.


Alright, so what’s the issue? To introduce it briefly, it’s an issue because marginalized racial groups have historically been portrayed as “dirty” for simply existing outside the scope of whiteness. Two huge examples of this are that in this past year alone Asians are seen as dirty through the lens of widespread viruses and disease and the segregated swimming pools and water fountains during the height of Jim Crow with the notion that Black skin was “dirty skin.” Both of these examples of ostracization put marginalized groups in danger and both have numerous instances of actual incited violence upon the Black American and Asian American communities. The label of “dirtiness” that almost every marginalized racial group in America carries like a scarlet letter is entirely unfounded and, as I mentioned before, based on imperialist’s thinking that if one exists outside of whiteness, then one is savage and dirty.


So here’s where it leaves us — why is it alright for white people to openly announce their extremely relaxed hygiene practices, only to be met with public encouragement for their own personal decisions? All the while, POC in America are held to a higher standard of cleanliness and hygiene, and despite those standards being met most of the time, are still discriminated against?


For those that actually shower, check out 5 bad shower habits that are ruining your skin and why shower water could be negatively affecting your hair.