Blog Post #3: It All Comes Down To Hygiene

It all comes down to HYGIENE. Today’s societal practices would dictate that hair jewelry from the past would be acceptable to collect but not wear, because it is not acceptable to wear something that was in contact with another person’s skin, or in this case scalp. No matter how old something is, the act of it touching someone else’s skin makes wearing such an item unacceptable under contemporary norms. To illustrate my point I will use the case of the thrift store. One would have no problem going to a thrift store and buying a shirt but not underwear. This is because its common practice for people of today’s society to wear under garments, and even with this is mind, whatever article of clothing would have to be dry cleaned, at least for the average person. Collecting an object doesn’t fall under such strict societal guidelines. The collection of hair jewelry would be perfectly fine, because the objects would pose no risk in terms of hygiene.
I find the claim that cultures have developed better hygiene practices over time to be self-evident. I am a huge fan of the HBO series King of Thrones; however, when watching the popular Sunday night series, I frequently say think to myself how nasty the conditions are. While today its common and most would say appropriate for one to take a bath everyday, men and women of that time would be lucky to take a bath once a month. The same mode of reasoning follows as to why we would no longer fill trinkets of dead human bone and flesh. For someone to be in possession of dead human bone and flesh would be considered unsanitary.
Shifting patterns of human behavior with regard to dead things can tell us a lot about the advancements in hygiene of a particular culture. If we look at societies today, cultures that tend to have negative behaviors towards dead things, normally have mores advanced health care systems. In ancient times, societal taboos were based mainly off religious beliefs, but today societal taboos have more to do with health issues. For example, two hundred years ago young adults were discouraged from having sex because the bible told them so. Today, young adults are discouraged from having sex because of the health risk. All in all, different societies dealings with dead people can tell us a lot about their culture, but I feel this is a stronger correlation to that of their health practices.

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