I have a theory and it’s that baths are trending.
It all started when I expressed my surprised that Emma Watson takes three baths a day. “When I found out my old coworker took a daily bath (like in a tub),” I wrote, “I asked her a new question about it every single morning. I needed every logistic. Suffice it to say, baths deeply confuse me. I wonder about the whole bathing-in-your-own-filth thing.”
This struck a cord and the comments below were rather contentious:
Said commenter Lyla, “Bathing in your own filth…what filth? It isn’t like I’ve been working in the fields all day. I wouldn’t do it if my body was caked in mud, but baths clean you.”
“I thought the same re:baths,” wrote Hannah, concurring with me. “Also, WHERE DOES SHE FIND THE TIME?!”
“LOVE baths,” replied KC. “So happy to hear someone else enjoys this passion of mine just as much.” Two others replied in agreement.
“I want to be the type of person who enjoys baths, I think it’d make me a better person,” wrote Kristy.
“Taking a bath requires a great deal of water compared to an average shower,” Lychette pointed out. “Taking two to three baths a day is a massive amount of water for a household. Not a very sustainable thing to promote.”
“BATHS ARE THE BEST THING EVER,” Marguerite comment-shouted.
Many more chimed in. To my surprise, most were pro. Many confessed to bathing every night! I was shocked. Could this be representative of the population, or does Man Repeller unknowingly attracted a disproportionate number of bathers? It called for more research.
In 2011, Allure published an article titled, “Does anyone take baths anymore?” After playing a game of “shower or bath” with a bunch of celebrities, they came to a fairly conclusive answer: No. “No one ever chooses bath. Not Kate Winslet, not Rihanna, not Fergie, not Heidi Klum, not an A-list soul. Reasons have ranged from time concerns (Rihanna) to Fergie’s hilariously graphic explanation that she didn’t want to watch the bronzer she wore onstage rise to the top of the water.” They clearly did not speak to Emma Watson. Or perhaps they did, but baths weren’t hot yet, so to speak.
In 2012, Tom Ford told Harper’s Bazaar that he takes four baths a day. Four! One at 4:30 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. “I find a bath meditative,” he said, offering little more in the way of an explanation. This news seemed to ripple across the internet — proof, perhaps, that baths were not mainstream. Per an article in GQ, by 2015 he was down to just one bath, taken daily by candlelight at 4:30 a.m. with a huge iced coffee. But still: a bath.
Had anything been published more recently to prove a shift in A-list bath attitudes? A Life & Style article from 2016 called “Celebrities Who Don’t Shower” seemed promising initially, but it turned out to be a weird, unhelpful slideshow about stars with body odor.
A trail of mainstream attitudes, however, proved easier to sniff out. In 2015, evidence began surfacing: “Baths Are For Gross People,” wrote Deadspin in 2015. “5 Reasons Why You Must Start Taking Baths,” published XO Jane around the same time. “6 Health Benefits of Taking Baths,” wrote Bustle, a year later. A marked shift in bath tone. Another year later, perhaps capitalizing on the chatter, the Huffington Post published, “Finally, Answers to the Shower vs. Bath Debate,” which clocked showers at a slight advantage to baths (they’re better for skin and the environment). “5 Times Taking a Bath is Better Than Taking a Shower,” countered GQ in March of this year.
It’s hard to say for sure whether the above evidences bath normalization, but I’m of the opinion that it’s there if you read between the headlines.
BATHS ARE ON THE BRAIN, LADIES. Let us not forget last year when everyone started doing photoshoots in milk baths. Or when creepy gifs of black bath bombs took over the internet for 48 hours. It’s hard not to diagnose these as symptoms of a bath comeback.
Harder still is to have a conversation about slow-motion dipping your body in warm water for relaxation without mentioning self-care, the biggest trend to hit millennials since unlimited texting. “Soak, Steam, Spritz: It’s All Self-Care,” wrote The New York Times last December. “The term [“self-care”] has been inescapable online. A search on Google Trends showed that [it] peaked in search interest popularity from Nov. 13 through Nov. 19, the largest increase in the last five years.”
Now seems like a good time to mention that a search of the word “bath” on Goop.com returned 5,850 articles.
I want to be surprised but I’m also not surprised.
A quick poll of the office brought a couple of themes to light: The first being most people here don’t take regular baths — not out of bath-spite, necessarily, moreso because of time; the second being most agreed baths are not a substitute for a shower, but rather a separate luxury, like a face mask or a manicure. Interesting.
Which brings me to you. Please weigh in officially as to whether you’re in the bath camp, what that means for you and whether you agree baths are trending harder than camo rn.
Photo by Krista Anna Lewis.