A Rising Number of Rebels Are Cleaning Their Armpits With Lemon Slices and Using Wipes Instead of Showers After Working Out


Maybe there's some veracity to the reports that this nation's elite business schools are harbingers of what's new, now, and next in fashion trends. All those Columbia University students who were warned that they had better start bathing and stop smelling are not an isolated people. The Times tracked down many more who are through with bathing, divorced from deodorant, and one with their personal scent and the microscopic skin bacteria they want to bring to work, on dates, and into their beds.

Jenefer Palmer, 55, chief executive of organic skin-care line Osea, "showers 'no more than three times a week,' she said, and less if she hasn’t been 'working out vigorously.'"

She contends that a soapy washcloth under her arms, between her legs and under her feet is all she needs to get “really clean.” On the go, underarm odor is wiped away with a sliced lemon.

Katherine Ashenburg, 65, wrote The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.

“I’m going to sound like dirty Katherine in this article,” she said, “but it doesn’t matter. I’m still invited to dinner parties.”

Todd Felix, early 30s, is an online producer for Sony who "doesn't want to be taken for a hippie," and doesn't use deodorant.

The few times Mr. Felix has mentioned on a date that he goes without deodorant, he said, things have quickly turned, well, sour. “It’s weird, but I don’t smell,” Mr. Felix will announce. Then, he said, “the comment is always, ‘You think you don’t smell.’ ” (Mr. Felix admitted that he lives in horror of having the rare fetid day.)

Paralegal Bethany Hoffmann Becker, 32, posted on the Internet this week:

"I get a lot of my runs in on my lunch break at work so I am all about the baby wipes :) I just shower before going to bed."

Law-school applicant Blake Johnson, 25, isn't worried about how shunning personal cleanliness will affect his career.

“Right now it’s cool to appear like you don’t care about what you look like,” he said. “You have to invest time, and often money, into making it look like you’ve done neither, or you can take the easy route, and just don’t wash your hair for a week and a half.”

The Times, ever thorough in its reportings, consulted Elaine Larson, a professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing with a Ph.D. in epidemiology, on the health implications of going dirtbag. She said if you go to the gym and ride the subway, you should bathe: "If it’s cold and flu season, you want to get rid of the stuff that isn’t a part of your own normal germs." So you need soap, not lemons. Besides, the act of not bathing is a selfish one indeed: Our subway system smells adventurous enough without the B.O.

The Great Unwashed [NYT]