Originally born in France, Lush ingredient editor Florence Bossière speaks about how she reclaimed her love of bathing when she moved to Brussels. A room to reconnect with loved ones and a space to escape her siblings as a teenager - Florence delves into the significance of bathrooms throughout her life.
Recently a friend asked me to find my astro chart - For those not familiar with astrology, an astro chart is a map of the sky that supposedly tells you which planets influence your life and personality. “Your moon is in Pisces! Of course it is!” he said, explaining that Pisces is a water sign. Suddenly, my everlasting love of bathing made complete sense.
From my own experience as a child in France, it was as if showers didn’t exist and bathing was the only way to wash. I don’t know if it’s because I got older or if society simply changed, but as I grew up it felt like everyone stopped having baths around me. In France, or at least in my circle of relatives, bathing is seen as a waste of time - “C’est une perte de temps!” (it’s a waste of time), my siblings would comment and as everyone knows “le temps… c’est de l’argent” (time is money).
In Paris, bathtubs are quickly being replaced by showers as apartments are renovated. They’re seen as a luxury that not everyone can afford, but I strongly believe bathing is never a waste of time. Whether you spend two hours splashing around in a pond, or an hour reading in the bath with bubbles tickling your chin, bathing is a therapy.
My passion for the art of floating probably dates back to the time I spent in my mother’s womb - very warm and cosy. In fact, I found this watery environment so comfortable that I stayed there two weeks over my due date. Sometimes, when I'm at the bottom of a lake, my head upside down, lost in time and space, I think that I'm unconsciously trying to recreate this cocoon, this time made of muffled sounds.
I also remember time spent in the bathtub with my mother when I was a baby. She was often absent because of work but kept these little moments for me, to reconnect. Something which made my brother and sisters jealous but made me feel so loved.
Later, as a teenage girl, the bathroom became my only haven in a house full of doors that were never closed for long. Where you would hear people shouting through the walls: "I can’t find a single sock! Who took my Metallica album? Floooo?"
Even in the bathroom, they’d find you. I had little time to myself, except when I was in the bath, because everyone knows that it's not practical to get out. Covered in foam, you take the risk and inevitably get water everywhere when stepping out in a hurry, soaking all the towels at once.
So that was it, the holy grail, the ultimate excuse: "Sorry, I can’t! I’m taking a bath!", quickly putting back my head under the water, so I didn’t have to hear the complaints from a makeup-less sister at the other side of the door. Bathing was my own private island.
I missed it during the six years I didn’t have a bathtub, living in a small studio with a bathroom the size of a closet, where you could almost shower, brush your teeth and cook breakfast at the same time. I would take baths at my parents’ house from time to time but it wasn’t the same. I gradually forgot about my love of baths and forgot how important they were to me.
Then I moved to Brussels. I started working for Lush and holding fragrant bath bombs in my hands everyday. I rented an apartment with a huge bathroom and you should have seen my face when I saw the bath shining in all its porcelain glory. It was like two lovers being reunited after years of a hurtful breakup. My partner even discovered a side of me he never knew - I am a bather and I’m not sharing!
Isn’t turning on the hot water to add some heat to the cold water one of the most exhilarating feelings on earth? I can spend hours there. Written in my stars or not, I would live in water if I could. I probably dream about it at night. I have my best ideas in there and sometimes it’s the only way to soothe my anxiety. It helps me to solve all kinds of situations. I don’t bathe that often, I have my moments, but it’s a constant source of joy to know it’s there, to know it’s possible.
It’s true what they say, bathing is a luxury and I’m indulging myself in it. In water there is silence, in water there is peace. You don’t weigh anything anymore, you don’t carry your day to day burdens, you don’t care about others. You’re here for yourself, to think, to reconnect and meditate.
By Florence Bossière, Lush ingredient editor