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Abstract

Body care rituals as expressions of cultural heritage passed intergenerationally through childhood socialization were expected to show variation across income matched groups from two ethnic origins (Anglos and Mexican-Americans). The contents of 1595 collections of household refuse were coded to determine level of usage of products used in body care rituals by two income groups of Hispanics and two income-matched groups of Anglos. Findings regarding group differences in patterns of usage of personal cleansers, household cleansers, oral hygiene products, odor fighters, hair care products, skin care products, cosmetics, feminine protection products, over-the-counter drugs, and aspirin are reported. These findings are interpreted using several alternative theoretical perspectives including body cathexis, status, and role theory, attempts to capture the ‘Good Life,’ pride in the body, and cultural heritage. Propositions for future research are suggested.