I took a shower yesterday for the first time in several days, scrubbing off bug spray, sunblock, and the general dirt of my everyday existence. While smelling my soap, breathing in deeply to try and calm myself, I realized how little I like the word self-care. There are countless essays and articles about how important self-care is, but I feel we apply it to things that shouldn’t count. A basic shower once or twice a week is considered necessary hygiene by most. Calling a 15 minute shower self-care implies that a person is doing something out of the ordinary for themselves when this activity is one that many people take part in daily across our country. I take a shower so that my greasy hair doesn’t cling to my face and make me feel doubly sweaty and gross. I take a shower so that those around me don’t smell me or think I’m not clean enough, not taking care of myself, etc. In other words, I shower for everyone else because society has said that I should. It’s not self-care. If I took a bubble bath for an hour, played the music I wanted to hear at the volume I wanted, turned my phone off and ignored every person and every responsibility during that time, that’s much closer to self-care. If I took that bath in a hotel where I’m not required to clean up that tub, you’re getting much, much warmer to what I consider giving myself rest and love, real self-care. A bubble bath isn’t a necessity to function in our society. Being clean is a necessity, and society has decided what “clean” is, despite dermatologists saying we often overclean and hurt our skin in the process. If something is a necessity to survive and be accepted within the culture you live in, it’s not fair to call it self-care.
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