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Credit: Julia Winter

It's been over a month since Paul and Jocelyn have made a podcast together. But first, Paul just has to share an anecdote about the latest crazy thing the kids are wearing (or not wearing) these days (in Missoula) and you'll just have to listen to the podcast for the details. This writer ain't goin' there!

Why no podcasts lately? "The level of stuff that we've taken on has gotten rather massive." The permaculture playing cards are at the printer, the RMH and Farmstead meat smith workshops are in less than two weeks, all sorts of things are happening at the laboratory, including the first wofati going up. They are feeding 10 people at every meal these days. The good news is that the present crew is working out great and the quantity of drama has diminished.

A new goal is to take a break every Sunday by 2pm. Today Paul and Jocelyn watched two documentaries, and it was just so nice to sit still for a while and watch something. The first documentary was called Chemerical - Redefining Clean For A New Generation. It followed the experiences of a family that switched from the typical toxic cleansers and body products to more natural versions. The college age daughter was in environmental studies, the parents didn't seem to be thrilled about the idea of changing what they used so probably it was this oldest child (of three) that signed the family up for this thing.

Paul thought they really were a typical American family. The mom seemed very "gray" to him and really alarmed at the loss of her usual routines and products. Paul thinks they all seemed pretty stupid at the beginning of the movie, and at the end all of them seemed sharper and they looked better. The mom went from being seemingly unable to express herself to being quite articulate. Jocelyn was curious as to exactly what they'd been using prior to the filming, because all the labels were totally blacked out.

A shocking statistic in the documentary is that there is a 54% higher cancer rate for stay at home moms. Paul wonders if the cleaning people at various job sites also have a significantly higher cancer rate.

There were also people with multiple chemical sensitivities in the film. (The narrator states that there are at least 2 million people in the United States with multiple chemical sensitivities.) Paul wanted more footage of people having horrible visible reactions to nasty gick, like, there are people that break out in hives when exposed to things. He recalls that when he was younger he used to get nosebleeds when he was around laundry detergent. He remembers getting a nosebleed just from walking down the detergent aisle at a grocery store.

The film mostly focussed on the family drama, not as much on what P&J wanted to see. They had a microbiologist who wasn't all that impressive, mostly because he "barely scratched the surface" on the whole topic of microbiota.

In the film, they measured the levels of VOC's and other things in the air in each room in the home of this family with a device they called "the canary." They talked about how these days modern homes are so well sealed that the VOC's from all sorts of things just tend to accumulate. Apparently the air quality is typically 20-50 times worse inside the typical home than outside. The levels in this family's home were excessive, and this horrified the mom who knew that her two sons had issues (nose bleeds and breathing problems) that could be secondary to these high exposures.

One thing that makes it hard to avoid the toxic gick is that if something is deemed to be part of a "trade secret" mix, they don't have to list the ingredients on the label. In the second documentary they watched, a guy goes into Target, buys multiple products that don't have "X" on the label, takes them to a lab and tests them and they all turn out to have "X" in them, X being some toxic thing.

Getting back to the first documentary, the costs for the family actually went way down when they switched to more natural products. The mom seemed really empowered by her ability to make a 5 gallon bucket of home made laundry gel for like $2 worth of ingredients. (Apparently both parents were out of work at the time of the film--perhaps this is why they agreed to star in what was basically a reality t.v. style drama.) The lack of fragrance means a real lack of phthalates, which are particularly nasty compounds we all should avoid.

At the end of the documentary, not only did everyone look better, but at least three of them said they had more energy in the morning. Interestingly, when the whole family switched away from typical grooming products, the college age daughter refused to participate in that part of the deal. (She didn't seem to be walking her talk, at least when it came to makeup.) The family started making their own body products and they toured a company who had a great guideline: if you are going to put it on your skin, you should be able to eat it. Anything you put on your skin is absorbed by the body. A majority of red lipsticks contain lead!! Baby oil is made from mineral oil, which is a petroleum byproduct--should we really be rubbing that on babies??

The second documentary was called "America the Beautiful," and focussed on the crazy obsession with self-alteration in our society. So much is driven by the fashion magazines (and television, and internet, and movies), and they are driven by advertising, and the advertising is for, you know, stuff. The beauty product industry is a $45 billion industry. Makeup, clothes, hair products etc.

Hmmm, an interesting side trip into how porn laws in Australia led to a boom of inner labia-ectomy's in that country (and only in that country) demonstrates the power of media in driving behavior.

In Fiji, a full figure was the ideal of beauty, up until they had television. Television sort of showed up in 1995 and in just three years they had the same rate of bulimia nervosa as the United States.

In "America the Beautiful" they profiled a girl who was 6 feet tall at 12 years of age, called "giraffe" by her classmates and her own mom. She was plucked from Los Angeles to be a runway supermodel in New York, which continued until she actually developed some hips and was deemed "too fat" at the age of 13. There was a lovely scene where Eve Ensler (writer of the Vagina Monologues) learned about self-love from an African woman who quite clearly loved her own body, but overall the film was "eh." Jocelyn dozed off.

Paul feels that if he sees a woman wearing makeup, then they have bought into the advertising bullshit and they probably don't have enough meaningful stuff going on in their lives. He thinks that saying this might alienate 95% of his female listeners. Jocelyn thinks he's way off on that percentage. What do you think, pod people?

Relevant Video

Relevant Podcasts

Podcast 240 - Poo-Less: Shampoo and Soap less
Podcast 206: Natural Cleansers

Relevant Links

Watch Chemerical here
America the Beautiful on Amazon.com

Relevant Threads

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peasant PDC
Copper Cabin
Berm Sheds
The Story of Gert
2018 Appropriate Technology Course
Air/Humus Well

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This podcast was made possible thanks to:

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Posts: 64
Location: North Country New Hampshire
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I listened to this at work today and as soon as I got home I sat down to watch America the Beautiful and I must say it is one of those paradigm shifting movies you tell everyone to watch.
I will have to watch the Chemerical one tomorrow.

At this point though I am seriously going to go through my house and collect all my remaining ick I find. I have already been poo-less for a while, even with long hair it isn't hard, and water only for bathing but I think I need to find alternatives to the 'other' cleaners I use.

Thus far I have used vinegar a bit, my hair loves it on occasion, diluted with water and it works well but as I look around my house all I see is things which require 'special' cleaners and I have to ask myself why. Then looking back to the America the Beautiful movie I realize why, consumerism told us to. You should get stainless steel appliances they said, oh and here is a cleaner for that; you should get granite counter tops, oh and here is a cleaner for that; you should get a porcelain god, and here is the cleaner for that; you should get plastic carpeting, and here is the cleaner for that >_<

I could probably go on all day. The more I learn about permaculture and am exposed to reality the more I realize I am doing it wrong and have been for a long time now.

Anyway, watch the movies ... the podcasts review was dead on. Oh and Paul is right, of course, about women and makeup ... I too prefer substance over the superficial.
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Several assumptions were made about what might be causing health problems amongst stay at home moms. This ignores other possible demographic factors. Here are a few questions to consider.

1. Do these women have a higher rate of smoking than those who work away from home ?

2. Are they heavier, on average than that same group ?

3. Do they have less education ?

4. Did some choose to leave the workforce because they had health problems ?

5. Do stay at home moms suffer higher rates of domestic abuse ?

6. Do stay at home moms suffer higher rates of depression ?

7. Are they more likely to live in poverty ?

This list could go on. I suspect that stay at home moms score poorly on many happiness measurements and that for many, it wasn't so much a choice as a default. My mom had 10 kids but for most of her life, she has not identified as a stay at home mom. She sold real estate, worked on the farm etc, even when there were six of us under 10 years old.

Here in Canada, the government is in the business of raising kids. The largest broods that I know of here in Victoria, belong to single moms on welfare. Large families like mine are exceedingly rare amongst self supporting people. A demographic shift, toward less educated, less healthy and poorer women having more children is well under way.
Posts: 17
Location: ne arizona
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Interesting podcast. I appreciate your view of toxic ick. That has been becoming a topic that I need to review more. How would you put it...I am a brown permaculturalist not purple. But I am learning. A little at a time. We live in an earthship that has lots of ventilation, dont till, have convinced hubby to not chemical fertilize or poison bug spray and have gone organic in the garden. We are still in the process of realization of food intake, household ick use etc. So we are still becoming. I got here thorough Jacks podcast. Bought the stove DVD and the kickstarted for the permaculture cards what great ideas! Also just finished my first pdc with Geoff on line.

Unfortunately I would be one of those you would dismiss because of the makeup and career of cosmetology. I like helping others to feel better about themselves either by services or one on one talking. But you are right the magazines and TV are the culprits. We haven't had regular TV for 25 years so its influence isn't very big. I wear makeup because of society, my job and because that is who I am. If the shtf I will have some major adjustment when I look in the mirror. I feel better about myself when I have makeup on. On the weekends when I dont wear it....I dont feel complete or as beautiful. Major character defect there. To compensate of lack of self esteem I used to overeat (instead of being a bulemic). They are both sides of the same coin. For me the beauty thing started watching my mother of the "great generation" that is what she did to please my dad.

It was good to hear your thoughts about it though. It has gotten me to thinking about how I feel about myself and how to feel better about myself in other ways. It is a head thing. I will watch the documentaries to educate myself more. Thanks Amber
Posts: 187
Location: Southeastern Connecticut, USA
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Hi Amber, just shooting from the hip here, zero knowledge of cosmetology - maybe your niche, or calling is natural cosmetics. Introduce them to your clients, Sounds healthier for them.
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Location: Western Washington
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I'm listening to this podcast as I type (house cleaning day) and I'm going to check out 'America the Beautiful' some evening soon as it sounds pretty interesting. To anyone who's interested in further reading and understanding on the proliferation of stuff, the material culture, and the consumer mindset, I would recommend the book 'Born to Buy' by Juliet B. Schor. It focuses on marketing to children. Pretty mind blowing - if somewhat infuriating and depressing. It's on my list of modern academic classics. I have a few other recommendations - but you won't be able to look at a magazine, tv screen, or billboard again without collapsing to you're knees and ripping out clumps of hair... so yeah... Maybe not worth the time and effort of reading when their are books like 'The making of the Cretan landscape' and 'The soul of the soil' out there to occupy your time. Grr. It's just all so interesting. Society and it's shortcomings.
amber marcum
Posts: 17
Location: ne arizona
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Hello Bill, Thanks! I don't do makeup on clients but will look into it for myself. I do use other ick.....so will have to look into that as well. It is amazing how you can wake up in certain areas of life and be totally asleep in others. Good thing we can learn and change.
Posts: 58
Location: Aberdeen, WA
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Where does one buy "the canary", or can anyone provide a link for more information?
I am not finding anything so far on google, that looks to me like it would be the correct device.

Posts: 5944
Location: United States
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I really liked what Jocelyn brought up in this podcast about the African woman who pointed at trees saying how this tree and that tree are each beautiful and how she had trouble understanding how someone else couldn’t love their own body. That kinda spoke to me, because body image is such a hard thing to deal with for both men and women in the US. I still have some trouble in this space, but I’m doing much better than I was many years ago. And I think the African woman’s talk also gets to what Sepp Holzer talks about how being closer to Nature makes people kinder and gentler. I think there is something to being outdoors and being surrounded by Nature that makes people more confident in themselves and more respectful of other people.
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