Personal hygiene and society expectations

You know, I sometimes feel like I’d like to live in a society where being ‘clean enough’ is considered ok. I am aware some autistic people have problems with taking showers or baths, it is often said it’s due to sensory issues, but I wonder whether there’s anything else behind that.

I actually like a shower as long as water pressure is not too high. There is a lot of issues with limescale build up in here and a while ago I realised that descaler probably doesn’t reach deep enough in the shower head holes so I started pricking them with a needle, which solved the issue and I find showers pleasurable again, but you know what… I often feel like I’d like to come out of a shower as sticky as I was before.

I’m not sure what it is exactly. Sometimes it feels to me like taking a shower removes the build up of ‘protective layer’ that my body created. And I don’t mean here that taking showers too often can be harmful to good bacteria on your skin. I mean more on social level. When I feel ‘sticky’ it seems to me like I’m more myself.

The society expects a lot of us nowadays in terms of personal hygiene. Sometimes it felt to me, depends who I was on shift with, that it’s not OK to go shopping straight after work; no, I should feel grossed out with my body and run home for a shower instead. Other people use deodorant several times a day and again, when I’m around them, I feel like I’m not good enough; they’re setting a standard that I cannot reach. I then feel like I want to be in opposition and shower less, not more. And it then feels like, if I don’t shower, it’s other people fault, not mine.

This is how I often behave around people: I get more abrupt around a well spoken person, bubbly with someone who’s quiet and calm when I’m with a person who’s stressing a lot.

So even though I like showers, it feels to me like they are yet another thing I have to do for other people sake, they become part of masking.

Sometimes I really want to feel like it’s ok to be gross at least once in a while.

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking with my employment support worker; she just came back from sick leave after having Covid. She was telling me how bad she felt, she couldn’t even walk properly, yet on the 4th day she decided to have a bath because ‘she felt gross’. She was too exhausted to have a shower and thought bath would be easier, but she couldn’t get out of it after and had to call her partner to help her. But she had to have that bath, she said. And all I could hear was ‘you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough’ because I would certainly pass in this situation.

So it’s not like I don’t compare myself with other people; I certainly do. And if I feel like I can’t meet their standards it makes more sense to me to go in opposite direction. That may include personal hygiene too. And I’m sorry if you feel grossed out by this statement, but at least I’m making an effort to say a little bit of my truth.

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