In the shower today I got thinking about how people dealt with personal hygiene back hundreds of years ago. This modern era of running water and electricity to every home, in developed countries, has us all spoiled. We can shower daily, brush our teeth over a sink with a commercially available toothbrush, flush our waste down a toilet, dry our hair with electric hairdryers, and use commercially produced fragrances and cosmetics.
Now think back to what you learned in history class, read in books or seen on the History Channel – do you think people smelled good? In light of today’s standards of beauty and hygiene, probably not. To think that throwing out the baby in the bathwater was actually a concern and not just a saying back then. Ever wonder why? When they typical family would fill the tin bathtub for their yearly, yes yearly, bath the water was nice and clean. The patriarch got to go first, then dad, then mom, then the kids from oldest to youngest. You can just imagine what the water looked like by the time baby got to take their bath.
It wasn’t just the common folk either. Kings, queens and dignitaries typically only bathed once a year and used every sort of lotion, powder and perfume available to cover the body funk. The women would “Set it and Forget it” with their hair. To the extent that lice, spiders, ticks, and even mice were known to nest in the matted coifs. No wonder their were horrible diseases floating around in the middle ages. There was one group of people, a special guard to the Queen/King, that was allowed to bath twice a year. OOh, what a treat.
Like I said we are spoiled, but also well educated about the necesity of good personal hygiene. What a blessing. I can’t go more than a couple days without a good hot shower. Granted I was born with an extra sensitive olfactory (inherited from my mother), but I can’t stand the feel of being dirty and dingy. I like to play in the mud, don’t get me wrong, but you won’t catch me running around the house with the same mud caked under my fingernails for days.