Dirt: A Love Story

I love dirt.

Of course, one might assume this is a love story about all the ways that dirt offers my life something beneficial and my love is only out of natural reciprocity and gratitude. I’m grateful for the gifts of dirt from both a microbiological and ecological level, sure. These gifts are certainly worthy to acknowledge and do contribute to my adoration of dirt, but that’s not actually what this love story is about.

What I really love is being dirty. Yes, I mean actually having dirt on my body. No, I don’t bathe myself in mud and I promise I have regular bathing and hygiene habits.

The process of getting dirty is almost always fun, although it often means hard work might have been involved, I rarely count that as a bad thing.

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Simply put, being dirty is fun. It’s a laid back state of mind. Being dirty means all the pretenses are gone. No more assumption that I am a together person. Nope. Just a messy dirty person existing in all my messy dirty glory. I’m not putting on any sort of a facade when I’m covered in dirt. The more I try to live an authentic life – one where the masks are off more frequently than on – the better and better I feel, holistically. Being dirty offers that release and acceptance.

Some of my favorite memories involved dirt in one way or another. A swim in a body of water created by nature, dirty! A hike in the woods or a walk through the prairie, dirty! Breaking ground in the spring and planting little seed babies, weeding, harvesting my garden, dirty! Camping and campfires, dirty! Art projects with my kids, dirty! Science experiments in the kitchen, dirty! Changing a tire, dirty! Why would changing a tire make the list? C’mon has a flat tire story ever not been told with some level of peril and adversities to overcome – that’s fun (and messy dirty)!

And finally, dirt is the best metaphor for life I’ve ever found. Life is messy and dirty, it’s rarely crisp, clean, clear, and pretty. Dirty. If I don’t learn to love the dirty mess, I fear I’m missing out on quite a lot.

Whether is literally or metaphorically dirty, I’m in love.

Why am I telling you this love story? Because our society doesn’t talk about women loving dirt nearly enough, if at all. My love story doesn’t dominate our discussions. Instead, we often hear stories about boys and their love of dirt. In fact, it’s a pretty common “ism” about boys. Boys + dirt = love. It’s just expected. If a girl loves dirt she’s a “Tom Boy.” With this moniker we assign her to the realm of men and boys, thus justifying her torrid love affair. Nah! Let’s not. I’m done with that and I think the rest of you are too. These rigid binaries are so very silly and restrictive. Our identities are complex and multi-layered. I’m telling you my love story because I think it needs to be heard. I also know that so many other women love dirt too.

Share your dirt love stories and use the hashtag: #girlslovedirt and help reclaim that narrative.

If you are curious about some of the benefits of dirt, check out these links:

NPR, Medical News

This piece was contributed by Amanda Hardy Hillman. Amanda is a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Human Development and Family Studies department. She is also a licensed mental health counselor and works in perinatal mental health in a small private practice. Amanda was born in Fairbanks Alaska making Denali National Park a backdrop of her childhood. Aside from loving dirt, Amanda also harbors a [mostly] healthy obsession with camping and traveling  If you’d like to contribute to the Wander Women blog, please submit your ideas to hello@wanderwomeniowa.com

This piece was contributed by Amanda Hardy Hillman. Amanda is a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Human Development and Family Studies department. She is also a licensed mental health counselor and works in perinatal mental health in a small private practice. Amanda was born in Fairbanks Alaska making Denali National Park a backdrop of her childhood. Aside from loving dirt, Amanda also harbors a [mostly] healthy obsession with camping and traveling

If you’d like to contribute to the Wander Women blog, please submit your ideas to hello@wanderwomeniowa.com