Am I the Only One Still Using Bar Soap? I Guess I’m Finally Getting Old!
They told me one day I would feel old, but I just refused to believe them.
Age 30. Then 40, 50, 60, now 64. Nope, not old. Grey hair. White hair. Thinning hair. Definitely more hair in my ears and my nose than on the growing bald spot on the back of my head. Still didn’t feel old. Besides, that’s what small scissors are for.
An expanding stomach. Creaking bones. Getting up at night to pee. Still no significant difference. Hey, I thought, maybe I’m impervious to aging and its supposed incapacitating side effects.
The Decline of the Humble Bar of Soap
But all that changed recently. I had to face the fact that maybe I really am old. What happened, you ask? Well, I still use bar soap. And, according to research from the market firm Mintel, younger adults think a dispenser of liquid soap is easier to use, less messy with no slimy soap dish to clean, and more hygienic. Not only are they thinking that, they’re showing their anti-soap-bar feelings as consumers.
Bar soap sales are down 2.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, even though overall sales for soap, bath and shower products increased by nearly 3 percent during the same period. Usage of bar soap is also slipping and sliding, with the percentage of households using the traditional bar dropping from 89 percent to 84 percent between 2010 and 2015.
Generational and Gender Findings are Clear
It turns out that older men made up the only group clinging to their bars of soap. Women and younger body washers of both sexes were abandoning their old bars for new fancy plastic bottles of liquid soap.
The study reported that while 60 percent of those age 65 plus were happy to keep using bar soap to wash their face, hands, and other body parts, just 33 percent of those ages 25 to 34 were still grabbing the bar.
It also showed that men are also more willing to use bar soap than women. The survey found that 53 percent of men were willing to wash their face with bar soap, compared with 36 percent of women.
I heard all this disturbing news while I was listening to Sirius XM in my car. And yes, I admit the report was on the Classic Vinyl oldies rock channel.
Internet Dishes the Real Dirt on the Cleanliness Issue
Shaken, I rushed home to my apartment to check out the veracity of the findings on my computer. The internet did supply more detail. For example, the younger people were using the liquid soap because they were convinced that it had fewer germs in it. But soon I found a buried paragraph that showed I didn’t really have to abandon my green Irish Spring Soap – the only soap for really virile, really manly men.
An epidemiologist told The Huffington Post that while germs likely do live in the damp “slime” of bar soap, they’re unlikely to make you sick. And, since one of my former students Kate Sheppard is a staff reporter there, I know the HP would never print a falsehood. And, my new favorite scientist added, rinsing the soap under running water before lathering with it should solve any problems.
Immediately, my aging fears melted like a tiny bar of my beloved Irish Spring left too long in a running shower. Not only was I not old, I was still smarter than those young whippersnappers with their dubious soap safety claims. Exclusive liquid soap use was simply like arranged playdates and bone-marrow appetizers so popular with Millennials today. There is no need for any of it.
Relieved, I Do Make One Final Soap Vow
As I stood up, feeling much more erect and youthful than I had just minutes ago, I did make one vow. In case any of those sneaky, germ-phobic young people are planning to take away my soap, they will have to pry it from my spotted, wrinkly hands as I stand naked in my shower. And trust me, that’s a sight no one under 65 (and few above it) would ever want to see.
Obviously, this piece is an attempt to write about the humor to be found in aging and generational differences. However, ageism is a serious matter in a society where so much emphasis is placed on youth. What can we do to counteract the stigmas surrounding outdated concepts of aging? Please your comments below and we can share experiences.