Over the course of the month we spent together at camp, our pedicured city-girl feet turned black from the lack of clean socks and the abundance of a constant cloud of dust around them. No matter how hard we scrubbed our soles, our damp feet would attract dirt like magnets on the walk back to the cabin from the spider-infested, roofless showers. We came to understand that hygiene is a privilege.
I believe in being dirty. Yeah, okay, not like that-I believe that girls can be one of the boys, and do boy stuff. Like play tackle football and play with fire and be smelly, that kind of thing. I believe in being carefree about physical appearance, and if that means shooting snot-rockets or scratching where it itches, let it be. At least every once in a while. It’s liberating.
I believe that single-gender camping was created for this very reason. When no one is trying to look good and impress cute boys, it leaves a lot of free time to do things you actually enjoy. Things that are seen as unladylike in society. Things that are fun.
Out from the protection of the cave-like trees, our bronzed bodies would soak up the sun and our skin would simmer. Not laying out to tan-but trying to get the 2-person Sunfish to sail with all 7 of us aboard-screaming and capsizing, looking insane. It was nice, it was freedom.
Razors were purposefully left at home. It was more of less a competition to see who could go the longest without shaving their armpits and legs. I always lost, but the champion was admired by all, in all of their hairy glory.
On the wilderness trips, they told us we had to go the two weeks without a shower or deodorant. Go ahead, cringe and tell me I’m gross. But it was okay, because even Old Spice couldn’t be strong enough for us. And the bears would eat it anyway.
And after four weeks of just that, you crave it. There is no convincing me that there is a greater pleasure in this world than sliding around in the mud on a rainy day, or neglecting my makeup kit. What humans seek is freedom, and I find it when I’m dirty.
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