As if the streaming battle, the debate about the lack of diversity and the questioned survival of an industry hit hard by the health crisis were not enough, the always hungry Hollywood industry created a new controversy to alleviate the scarcity of headlines in the middle of summer boredom . A controversy marked not only by its repercussion and the popularity of its protagonists, but also by the content itself, which questions the convenience of something, a priori as basic, as personal hygiene. In an unusual accumulation of consecutive arguments against each other, different interpreters publicly confessed their rejection of the daily baths, forcing almost any self-respecting famous person to have to get wet – metaphorically and literally – about it.
One of the first to speak out was actor Jake Gyllenhaal. In the North American edition of the magazine Vanity Fair, he considered that “taking a shower is not that necessary”. “Not taking a shower is very helpful for skin maintenance, and besides, we clean ourselves naturally.” One of the most popular couples in the movie mecca, formed by Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, also stated that he only bathes his two children, Wyatt and Dimitri, aged six and four, when it is strictly necessary to prevent the loss of natural fats from the skin. “For me, it’s very clear: if you can see the dirt on them, wash them off. Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense,” said the Black Swan actress on the Armchair Expert podcast. Her husband added that, in her case, she only washes her “face, armpits and groin” daily.
But experts question the fundamentals and certainties of this recent fad among the big screen stars. “Daily bathing is in no way harmful to the skin. The use of a suitable soap and, later, a moisturizing cream or lotion is the correct routine to follow for your care”, explains Gabriel Serrano, dermatologist and founder of the Spanish company Sesderma. The doctor understands that the controversy comes from the fear of abuse of certain types of soap or gel, which can cause dryness or flaking of the skin, but he belies the belief that washing with water alone is enough. “Throughout the day, our skin deposits hydrophilic and lipophilic residues. And to eliminate all these types of impurities, we will need to use soap. It is also recommended to take a shower with tempered water: excessively hot or cold temperatures can damage the skin barrier and alter the composition of our epidermis”, he says.
The declarations of the anti-bath stars raised so much dust on social networks that even other actors found themselves obliged to take a stand on the episode, already known as ‘showergate‘. This was the case with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who decided to respond to a tweeter who speculated that the protagonist of Jungle Cruise belonged to the controversial group of actors. “I’m the opposite of a celebrity who ‘doesn’t wash’,” he declared, taking the opportunity to enumerate every step of his routine. “Bath (cold) when I get out of bed to start the day. Bath (warm) after training and before going to work. Bath (hot) when I get home from work. Facial, body cleansing, exfoliating and singing (out of tune) in the shower.” Even the king of the seas, Jason Momoa (Aquaman), had to ratify in front of the program’s journalists Access Hollywood your normal person status. “I won’t start any trend…Believe me, I take a shower.” Rapper Cardi B summarized her opinion claiming that watching so many people talk about not taking a bath “made her itchy”.
But the debate in the hills of Los Angeles over intimate hygiene is nothing new. On the front line are two stars like Cameron Díaz and Matthew McConaughey, who share a generation, romantic comedy myth status and a personal crusade against deodorants. “I don’t believe them, they’re really bad, I haven’t used them for almost 20 years. If you smell bad, it’s because you use it”, confessed in 2014 the protagonist of Who Will Stay With Mary?, advising, instead, full underarm waxing as a formula to combat the stink. In the case of the Texan, “neither cologne nor deodorant”, to the disapproval of co-stars like Kate Hudson, who, during the filming of the film A Treasure Love, begged him to use some kind of natural fragrance on the set. “The women in my life, including my mother, told me, ‘Your natural odor smells, first, like a man; and, second, it smells like you’”, justified the interpreter. And it’s not the only one: faces as well-known as Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio criticized deodorants for ecological reasons, and Brad Pitt revealed it in the recording of inglorious bastards the use of wet towels for babies to replace baths during strenuous workdays. His ex, Jennifer Aniston, was betting on baths of three minutes or less to save water, and a Robert Pattinson in full twilight heyday was candid about how he thought it “unnecessary to wash your hair.”
Far from the frivolity of memes, however, the controversy has sparked another deeper debate, fueled by some of the most recognized voices in African American culture, who consider this stance a testament to the privilege these celebrities live in. “All that money, and you don’t use the baths you paid for. Hygiene is cultural, and the privilege of not taking a shower when you have access, you don’t have any disabilities or medical problems, it’s something black and brown people don’t have,” Nigerian writer and influencer Luvvie said on her Instagram account. Ajayi Jones. Renowned essayist and activist Roxane Gay said on Twitter that bragging about poor hygiene is something only whites can afford. “Blacks, the poor, immigrants and the fat have been labeled ‘dirty’ by society, and I assure you that we cannot walk around without having showered.”
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