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13 November 2011

Clean is the new Dirty

How big is your Filth Footprint?

Dirty Scruffy Vegan Lesbian Hippie Woman.

I got called these things (and more) by some of my dear readers the last time I wrote on personal hygiene.

Now I didn't mind having such labels (even if not all entirely accurate) applied to me, except for one: guess which.

Yup. No one likes being called Dirty. Not even us hippies.

No one wants to be thought of as unclean in person or abode. It's a sin. The slightest spot or stain, the most fleeting undeodorised whiff – banish these or be banished yourself to the chill vacuum of societal deep space.

But society's consensus as to what it means to be “clean” is outdated, and sadly ironic for two reasons.

Firstly, the conventional notion of “cleanliness” goes way beyond sensible hygiene, towards obsessiveness. An obsessive compulsive cleaner-washer is a cleaning product purveyor's fondest fantasy. They'd have us all scrubbing away our shame, like demented domestic Lady Macbeths, endlessly. I've often wondered how many OCD cases have been triggered by ads for antibiotic soap magically slaying "99% of germs".

This pursuit of the pure, white and unblemished isn't just a waste of energy and money spent on the purifiers, whiteners and de-blemishers. We don't need to be perfectly clean; on the contrary, a little dirt keeps our immune systems fighting fit , while excessive use of antibacterial products may create resistant bacteria against which we have little defence.

If you drive a car, use electricity, purchase the avalanche of products punted as essential to a happy modern home, obediently put out the rubbish in your tidy wheelie bin, then sorry, but, truth be told: you're filthy.

 
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