Ladies, we can almost all agree…there are habits we all deem embarrassing, but in reality, they’re actually very common. These are things we can get away with in the privacy of our own homes, cars, and offices, but also in the biggest crowds of people — if we’re sneaky. We are all human and we’ve gotta get by somehow. So, now that cats out of the bag, girls. But it’s okay. I get it, and I’m assuming the rest of us get it, too.
I’ve found there are some habits that occur more often among women, after speaking with a few brave ladies. Guaranteeing these women would remain anonymous, they listed off some of their tendencies at rapid fire, while others smiled and nodded in a blushing agreement. Check out what they said and why these habits can be looked at as common secrets.
Let’s start with the obvious. Women do fart, even though our grandmothers swore that wasn’t the case. But the facts don’t lie. Everyone does, despite what your boyfriend or little brother thinks. We fart, on average, 10-20 times per day, women just as much as men, according to Dr. Purna Kashyap, gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. A TED-Ed video he helped create explains how passing gas is actually a sign of healthy gut function. Things like beans, oats, soy and dairy can cause you to be more gassy than usual. Now, if you believe your excessive flatulence is affecting your day-to-day life, you may need to change your diet, or see a doctor to make sure it’s not something more serious.
Cyber-stalking. Relax, it’s the legal (yet still frowned-upon) kind of stalking. OK, maybe I shouldn’t call it "stalking," because that sounds pretty intense, but it’s normal to be curious about who dates who, who works where, what your neighbor had for breakfast, or what the girl in your bio class wore for Halloween in 2006 — scandalous. Your ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend took a nice trip last winter, and that’s… cool. He never took you on vacations, but you don’t really care. You’re just passing the time, right? Or remember that guy you met at the bar last night? He was super cute, but you only know his first name so naturally as soon as you get home you search all of Facebook for Ryan in the Upper East Side. You find him, over analyze all of his pictures, find out his likes and dislikes, and learn he has a cat named Frank. Hey, this can be a good thing. It could save you from relationship hell by finding out beforehand that he’s got some crazy obsession or he already has a girlfriend. There are even tips out there on how to cyber-stalk like a pro. Keep it to a minimum though, ladies, and keep some mystery in your life.
We don’t wash our hair every day
Come on, who really has the time to wash your hair every day? It’s quite a process and usually includes shampoo, conditioner, oils, and other products, so we end up putting it all off for just one more day, right? There’s a reason top-knots are so popular. Apparently, that fast-paced lifestyle is better for your hair. "The natural oils that come from our scalp need time to spread throughout the hair, whether it be running our fingers through it or styling it. Not only is it an important key in keeping your hair in good condition, but shampooing everyday can result in a dry scalp," says Alyssa Badiali, professional hairstylist. "The texture and density of the hair will determine how long you can get away with it. I say, the longer the better." So, to keep from shampooing too much, but also avoiding greasy or dirty-looking hair, dry shampoo can be a girl’s best friend — not to mention many smell wonderful. It will give you that clean hair feel in seconds. Could have fooled everyone, right?
We don’t wash our bras enough
It’s not that we don’t do laundry, but sometimes we don’t have time or energy to hand-wash our delicates, especially when the process takes a lot of time and we’re partial to the one bra that perks the girls up just right. Believe it or not, according Jennifer O’Connell, Rigby & Peller Lingerie Stylists London, bras can become damaged if you wait too long. "Bras can get discolored and start to deteriorate or stretch faster if not washed often enough," explains O’Connell.
According to lingerie expert, Kim "Kimmay" Caldwell, "Bras that go too long without a wash can cause a few problems. First, depending on the material of the bra, it can lock in foul odors from your body and your environment. Second, your body oils and perspiration can build up on the bra, breaking down the delicate or stretchy materials, like elastic. Over-washing and under-washing are both a no-no."
If only they didn’t come with such time consuming instructions. "If you wash your bras by machine, we [also] recommend that you hook them and put them in a lingerie bag and then wash on the delicate cycle in cool water," says O’Connell. But wait, it gets better. "The washing machine is bad for bras, but the dryer is absolute murder!" explains Caldwell. Yes, this is what takes up all our time and is probably why we don’t wash our bras properly or as often as we should. But in order for us to not do any damage to our beloved support system, we need to take care of them the right way.
So, how often? Rigby and Peller say we should do this after two or three wears with proper lingerie soap. Caldwell gives us a little more time, saying it’s time to wash after four to five wears. And lingerie soap, you ask? "Because bras are mostly made of elastic and delicate materials, regular soaps are too harsh. Whether you hand-wash or put them into the gentle cycle of your machine, be sure to use a soap meant for lingerie, lace, or even hosiery," says Caldwell.
We flirt to get what we want
Using sex appeal as a leg-up is a common, yet overused habit for a lot of women. Some may suggest it works best when getting pulled over, asking for a raise, or trying to get something you want. It’s definitely frowned upon among many, but not always. In Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom, Catherine Hakim goes into detail about why women should use their beauty and sex appeal to get ahead in life. She says an attractive person is more likely to land a job and be promoted.
One study in Italy has shown that beauty is, in fact, a large factor in getting a job. Out of 1,000 resumes sent out, all the same with minor changes to names, addresses — and a different photo — women perceived as attractive received a 54 percent call-back rate, while unattractive women received a whopping 7 percent call back rate. Wow, and they say beauty is only skin deep.
We bite and pick our nails
We bite our nails for so many reasons. Maybe they’re too long, maybe you’re stressed, maybe you broke one and now they all need to match. Or maybe it’s just a habit you just can’t quit. I have bad news for all you nail-biters out there. Not only is it unsanitary, but according to a study in the Indian Journal of Dental Research, biting your nails is bad for your teeth and your jaw. It can cause small fractures on your teeth, and even may cause bacterial infections in your mouth and stomach. Yikes. So, the next time you go to put your fingers in your mouth, don’t.
We pick our noses
Remember when your mom used to slap your hand away from your nose even though you thought you were being super incognito? Well, some habits, even the gross ones, never die. You do it in places no one is looking, like driving your car by yourself, probably without even realizing it. It happens, we’ve all been caught with our finger up our noses despite our best efforts in hiding it. Multiple studies have proven we all do it, but one Dutch study in 2006 proved why we should stop. According to the study, those who pick their noses have a better chance of getting a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections, bloodstream infections, respiratory infections, bone and joint infections and even food poisoning. Think about that before you go digging for gold.
Use toilet paper as makeshift tampons
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten your period when you didn’t expect it. Aunt Flo just loves showing up unannounced and although you probably try your best to keep a spare tampon in your bag, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you won’t even know you’ve started your period until you’re already in the stall — dropped trou and all. So, what’s a girl to do?
Well, until you can track down a real tampon, you work with what you’ve got. In a matter of moments, you can assemble a makeshift tampon by rolling toilet paper into a cylindrical shape. Although this method is common, obstetrician-gynecologist Lauren Streicher explained on The Dr. Oz Show (via Sharecare) that it’s not a good idea. "The reason is even though it looks like it’s really firm, the minute it gets moist it’s going to apart and there’s no way you’re going to get it all out of you." This could then lead to irritation and cause bacteria to develop.
Streicher gave the okay to use toilet paper as pads in a pinch, but you’ll definitely want to 86 those TP tampons.
Pluck rogue facial hair
If anyone were to ask you about your beauty regimen, you could probably easily list off your favorite night cream or eye serum, but there’s one part of every woman’s routine that is hush-hush. We may not talk about it much, but tweezing random chin hairs is an all-too-real aspect of our lives.
As far back as 1961, doctors have been trying to understand these pesky hairs. After assessing body hair growth in women, a group of doctors released their findings in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. "Hair tended to increase on the face and disappear from all other sites with advancing years," it read, in part. Ah, the joys of getting older.
American Family Physician further reported that medical conditions, medications, and genetics can also play a role in developing these hairs. Most women rely on tweezers to treat the problem, while others shave or use chemicals. Electrolysis, or laser hair removal, is the only permanent — and also most expensive — way to get rid of these feral follicles. Oh well, at least we have each other.
Smell our partners’ clothes
People, in general, are creepers when it comes to smells. We, as women, just go about it differently than men. If you’ve ever caught your partner taking a whiff of your hair, you may have thought it a little strange. Of course, you probably didn’t tell him that, once behind closed doors, you routinely sniff the shirt he accidentally left at your place. Ph.D. student and lead author of a study on scents, Marlise Hofer, told Time that we might just be using two different methods to accomplish the same thing. That thing being reducing stress.
In Hofer’s study, women who were asked to smell their partner’s shirt reported feeling less stressed than women who were asked to smell either an unworn shirt or a stranger’s shirt. Of those who were able to recognize the scent of their partner, Time reported that they had lower cortisol levels than other women in the study. Essentially, when a woman is aware of what — or rather who — they’re smelling, there are even greater stress-relieving benefits. So, sniff away, ladies!
Hide and eat snacks
Some days you may feel more squirrel than human. According to data presented by Fox News, two-thirds of American moms polled confessed to hiding snacks as a way to get out of sharing them with their partner and kids. It’s not just moms that engage in these eating habits either.
In a study shared by PR Fire, more than a quarter of women surveyed admitted to stealthily consuming food. While the bedroom is the most popular hiding place, some women have resorted to hiding out in the bathroom. The reasons for sneaky-eating range from feeling embarrassed about what or how much they’re eating to trying to maintain an image of picture-perfect health. Women also go through great lengths to cover their tracks. If you’ve ever hidden candy wrappers in the bottom of your trash can, you’re not alone — 23 percent of women admitted to disposing of the "evidence."
"No one should feel guilty about grabbing a bite between meals to keep them going," dietitian nutritionist Angela Liu told Fox News, "but if it’s a matter of looking after your health, it can be as simple as just having the right things on hand." Fair enough.
Poop way more during this time of the month
Pardon us for getting all up in your business, but have you ever noticed how much time you spend sitting on the toilet during your period? Anna Rothschild, host of PBS’ Gross Science, explained the two chemicals behind this increase in bowel movements: prostaglandins and progesterone.
"Prostaglandins signal the uterus to contract to push out the uterine lining," said Rothschild, "but it’s likely that some non-conformist prostaglandins head over to the bowels and make them contract too." And thus, we have them to thank for our extra number twos. Secondly, Rothschild said levels of progesterone, which is a hormone that is "slightly constipating," drop during a woman’s menstrual cycle. "So, it lets things loosen up down there," she added.
Rebecca Brightman, a ob-gyn based in New York City and Mira Kaga, an internal medicine physician in New Jersey, told Cosmopolitan that taking ibuprofen, or a similar NSAID, will impede the release of prostaglandin so, if you take them before you start getting cramps, you may be able to prevent some poop sessions.
Look in the mirror and feel fat
Is feeling fat just a part of being a woman? In a comprehensive study (via The Telegraph), thousands of volunteers — both male and female — were presented with mirrors and asked to choose how they felt or how they thought they looked from a list of 12 adjectives. Measurements were also taken to determine which men and women were of a healthy weight and which were, by Body Mass Index (BMI) standards, considered overweight.
Of the women who were determined to be of a healthy weight, only 13 percent said they were happy when looking in the mirror. Just six percent — would consider themselves thin. Then there’s the overwhelming percentage — roughly 34 percent — who either picked the term "fat" or "down" after seeing their reflection. Men, on the other hand, weren’t nearly as likely to view themselves as overweight. Twice as many women than men also used the adjective "ashamed" when looking at their bodies.
Author of the study, psychologist Dr. Sandra Wheatley, explained that women have long been judged by their appearances and now, unfortunately, use their weight as a way to measure their worth. It’s sad — and far too true.
Of course, the things listed above aren’t the only things we do and hope no one notices. Here are couple extra gems we overheard during our super serious research and just couldn’t keep to ourselves:
"When I don’t have time to shower, I have this spray for your vagina, makes it smell like flowers."
"[I] have peed in the shower. If you don’t admit you ever did, you’re lying to me."
"We start drama, like the first to start a rumor."
"I always look at my poop when I’m finished."
"I judge people on their shoes."
"I try not to poop in public restrooms. Or at other people’s homes. I’m scared someone is going to hear or smell me."