Throughout this Compact Challenge, we have been abstaining from unnecessary consumption, yet the rules also have exceptions. There are purchase exceptions, one of which is hygiene products. This obviously makes sense since no one would want, sell, or buy used hygiene products, but when looking at the many options available, which ones do we choose? During a depression people often change their habits and once the depression is over, some new habits they adopted remain unchanged. The changes I have experienced have mainly been in regards to my hygiene products. For example, when thinking about toothpaste, my mother always told me the toothpaste my grandparents used was simply baking soda and water. Yes, modern dental hygiene has dramatically increased but is that because of new dental hygiene habits like brushing three times a day and flossing regularly, using mouthwash and more, or is it because of new additives to our products. Fluoride makes up at least 20% of most toothpaste products, and it is given to children when they visit the dentist to strengthen their teeth. Fluoride has even been added to our tap water throughout the US, with Davis being an exception. I will not divulge into the history of fluoride, but there is a bit of controversy over whether it is safe and whether it is necessary. Personally I do not believe in using it in my toothpaste every day so I did my research and found out that Trader Joe’s has their own brand of toothpaste that is fluoride free, which I have been using for the past couple of months. If you would like to read more about the history of fluoride and some of the controversy surrounding it, please check out this book on Google Books, entitled The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson. I think it is important that everyone takes a little time to do some research on their favorite products, especially the products we use every day, sometimes more than once a day because what is in these products affects our body in most likely higher than normal doses. Another hygiene product that I have recently changed is the soap I use. For example, normally I would wash my hands with SoftSoap, regular or antibacterial, and upon looking at all of the ingredients I notice they are mainly chemicals I have never heard of, nor do I know their exact purpose. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s also sells a form of Castile Soap, which was a natural form of soap before corporations began manufacturing soaps with chemicals in them that revolutionized the 1950s. The Peppermint Castile Soap Trader Joe’s sells has ingredients like coconut oils, olive oils, peppermint oils(for scent), and others that are easily understood. Oprah has a short list of “Green Cleaning Recipes” including a window cleaner, all purpose spray, and veggie cleaner spray, which can substitute for some of the chemicals we use around our house like Windex and Clorox products. Castile soap is an ingredient in a few of these recipes. So how do hygiene products relate to a fashion class? Well we have learned from Kawamura that fashion is much more than clothes and includes our body as well. Also, Mai Yamani in his except found in our reader entitled “Changing the Habits of a Lifetime: The Adaptation of Hejazi Dress to the New Social Order,” clarifies the definition of dress by saying “moreover, dress includes a long list of possible modifications such as coiffed hair, coloured skin, pierced ears and scented breath as well as garments, jewellery, accessories. Furthermore, as Barnes and Eicher in their book Dress and Gender (1992) explain, dress is not only visual, it may also include touch, smell and sound. In short, the dress of an individual is an assemblage of modifications of the body and/or supplement to the body” (55). So dress includes a person’s skin, breathe scent, body scent, etc. which most of us produce through the hygiene products we use on a day to day basis. Modifications to our body can be done through hygiene products and their effect on us. As for the alternative products listed above, I am not promoting the purchase of these items to everyone reading this blog, but I am merely citing them as examples of uncommon hygiene products that many may not know about since most of the major hygiene products are produced by large corporations. It took me a while to find these products because they are not on the internet since some companies like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods do not list their inventories on their websites, and you cannot find them in major stores that are often very well known and disperse. To find out about these products and others like them physical research needs to be done by actually going to markets and asking questions. My question to everyone reading this is what are the hygiene products you use every day and what are the ingredients used to make them? Are they chemical compounds you cannot even pronounce or pick up naturally in nature, or are they ingredients you can identify and have heard of, which in combination will do the same as the name brand products? A little research never hurt anyone, especially if you are going to be using these products on a mass scale throughout your life. As with soap, our skin is the largest organ on our body and it is porous. What you put on it will in some way seep into the deeper layers, such as lotion which magically disappears when you rub it into your skin, yet the fragrance often remains perceivable. What has your skin just absorbed—a bunch of chemicals to help make you smell attractive? Think about the consequences of your actions in the long run, say ten to twenty years down the road, even fifty. Most cosmetics are not as heavily regulated as other products we consume so take the time to regulate them yourselves and research. Think of it as an investment in yourself.
Heather Crane, Blog #6
Thank you Professor Valverde for a wonderful quarter.
Yamani, Mai. “Changing the Habits of a Lifetime: The Adaptation of Hejazi Dress to the New Social Order.” Ed. Nancy Lindisfarne-Tapper and Bruce Ingham. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1997. 57-66.