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Doubtless, it goes without saying that I have never given my personal hygiene more thought than I have over the past few days. I can thank all the drama caused by the charming Kathie Lee and Hoda's response to the fact that I have chosen to not wash my hair with shampoo for the past five years.
(Honestly, I think I have thought more about my hair over the past THREE DAYS than I have the REST OF MY LIFE. Just sayin'....)
I have many, many words I could say about this whole thing which I have been gradually articulating to myself as I slow down and try to figure out what exactly just happened and WHY(?!) The first thing that comes to mind is that I feel very, VERY loved by the community that surrounds me, both at home, and online. I feel truly blessed.
It makes me sad to read and hear the response of people who are not a part of this community. Obviously, it's about so much more than hair. Those of us who are opting out of our current consumer culture (in one way or another) are striving, above all, to make educated choices for our bodies, our homes, our children, and yes... our hair.
(Maybe that looks like "not washing your hair" like I do, maybe it looks like making your own shampoo, or maybe it looks like buying something else..... That's really not the point, people.)
I am still very unclear why a post I wrote over two years ago was picked up by the Huffington Post and made it to the Today show. But it did. And those who don't understand, have enjoyed calling me everything from "lazy", "gross", "disgusting", "smelly", and a host of other names I'll just leave out. Ah, the lovely internet. Anonymity brings out the best in humanity. *not*
I was particularly struck by people's assumption that I must smell horrible because I "don't wash my hair." It struck me that, to them I probably do smell awful. I don't smell like a bottle of chemicals. I smell like myself. (...And sometimes lavender essential oil. Or coconut oil....)
And after years of not using those chemicals on myself, my family, and around my house, I cannot stand them. My nose reacts violently when I am stuck on an airplane with a woman who has perfume. I feel lightheaded and dizzy if I even walk past a hair salon. Let alone a nail salon. (Just shoot me, please.) All my nerve endings send violent signals to my brain that I must vacate the premises as soon as possible. So I do.
My hair smells like it hasn't been washed. At least, according to one doctor who smelled it. Well, at least she said it "smells like it hasn't been washed... but it doesn't smell like it hasn't been washed in five years." (... Thank you...?) And, for her, she's right. Because "washed hair" means hair that smells like commercial shampoo. She's never known "clean hair" to smell like anything else.
Everyone knows that the nose adjusts to smells. I can smell things now that I never would have noticed five years ago. When I hold Athena close, I am smelling her, breathing her in, not a bottle of shampoo. When I hug my husband I smell HIM and not a tube of chemicals.
I realize that if I could step across the internet and let anyone who assumes I MUST REALLY STINK, smell me, I probably wouldn't like the smells I found on them, either. For now, we are a part of two different cultures. They live in one olfactory world, I live in another. Until they know and understand what we do and why, neither the twain shall mix.
Let's work hard so that day comes sooner rather than later. (Because I REALLY can't stand the smell of nail salons....)
As this whole saga was beginning a dear friend, RACHEL, sent me a letter that I (with permission granted) want to share with you. It captures something so beautiful:
"I keep thinking about all the things I missed out on BEFORE ditching the chemicals in my house and body. Here is a sampling:
The smell of my freshly washed Babies - free of Johnson and Johnson.
The smell of my freshly washed man :)
The smell of my not so freshly washed man and babies - (people smell earthy and good when they are healthy.)
The smell of Cottonwood blooming in the spring.
And sun dried laundry.
I could think of more but just one of those things is enough to make me ditch the 'poo. :)"Now I have a question for those of you who's noses have adjusted, like Rachel's and like mine:
WHAT is that SMELL? What is that smell that you notice now, that you never would have noticed before?
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