My Failed New Yorker Shouts & Murmur Ideas, Part III: “The End of Shampoo”

Aaron Gilbreath
6 min readOct 28, 2020

I loved this popular satire section of the magazine, so I tried to write some funny satire myself. All my attempts fell flat. Or did they? You decide.

An introductory note: I wrote this one in the form of a high school newspaper article.

“Poopooing Shampoo, Before It Was Cool.”

By Rebecca S. Winfield, Special to the Hartshorne High School Times

“I honestly think in five years people are going to go, ‘Oh God, remember when we used to wash our hair with shampoo?’” says Michael Gordon. ─Wired magazine

Lately, it has become fashionable to give up shampoo. Fast Company’s October article, “The End Of Shampoo? The old lathering hair rinse has a bit of a branding problem,” was one of a series of articles questioning traditional shampoo. Everyone from Marie Claire to Vogue, Wired to Elle have written about the supposedly negative effects of traditional foaming cleansers, and documented the way stylish young skeptics on both sides of the Atlantic are joining what’s called the no-poo movement. But George Wexler, right here in Middleton, New Jersey, did it first.

Wexler, age sixty-seven, last shampooed in 1982. That was the year he spent what he calls “an obscene amount” on a bottle of Redken. He had a bit more hair back then, enough to believe that an expensive, protein-rich formula from “some chichi salon in Midtown” might amplify what luster was left. The price point was so outrageous and his scalp felt so dry that he not only forsook shampoo, he made it his mission to eradicate it from the U.S. “Who needs it?” Wexler told the Hartshorne Times. “It’s garbage.”

After the Redken incident, Wexler transformed his small, carpeted living room into his war room. From a grey upholstered chair, he drafted the failed Prop. 077, prohibiting the sale of shampoo in Middletown. He wrote letters urging city councilmen to protect the public from continued fleecing. He even challenged Congress to start a subcommittee devoted to the “great scourge of the American cosmetics industry.” Between letter writing campaigns and earning a reputation as a loudmouth, he called and sometimes spoke with staff at the FDA, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the Monmouth County Pet Council. Although a self-described progressive, Wexler is no friend of the government, and he can’t stand “the over-regulated, helicopter parent nation we have…

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Aaron Gilbreath

Essayist, Journalist, Burritoist. Longreads Editor. Writing: Harper’s, NYT, Slate, Paris Review, VQR, Oxford American, Kenyon Review. 3 nonfiction books.