Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw.

One of my pet peeves is when people Purell the hell outta themselves. You know what I'm talking about. They whip that shit out in airports and parks and on the train and at dinner tables in nice restaurants. (It's the same kind of fear that keeps people from trying Bikram yoga because they're afraid of - god forbid! - coming into contact with other people's sweat.) The Purell fad strikes me as such a classic representation of affluent Western fearfulness, neurosis and detachment from the body, dirt and what it means to live amidst the grit and grime of the real world. Get yourselves dirty already and chill out, please! It'll be good for you!

So after having just talked about this pet peeve the other week with Molly and (Dr.) Tim, I was glad to see this quick little article in the NY Times about the hygiene hypothesis and the ways in which our current American obsession with cleanliness and germ-aversion can potentially lead to greater sickness and weakened immune systems. Give it a quick read, take a deep breath and don't stress so much the next time you've got the little ones at a picnic eating ants along with their hot dogs. It's not a big deal. Our bodies are much more able to withstand a little grit than we give them credit for. And when the chitlins don't develop asthma or allergies down the road, you'll be glad you let them roll around in the dirt a little.

Babies Know: A Little Dirt is Good For You (NYT)


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