Black Neck (Protection)

My informant is Betsy, a 5’3, white female. Betsy is 26 years old and grew up in Los Angeles her whole life. She is of Irish and Eastern European descent.


Betsy: “When I was a little girl my grandma would always tell me to wash my neck in the morning, like she made sure I did it. She said that if I didn’t my neck would turn black because when she was growing up she knew a girl who never washed her neck and everyone would make fun of her at school because she had a black neck”

How old were you when she first told you this?

Betsy: “Ever since I remember she told me that story! She really wanted me to wash my neck”

Did you actually do this?

Betsy: “Yes! Every time I took a shower, to this day, I remember my grandma Florence saying “Wash your neck!” so I always did it”

Did you think your neck would turn black?

Betsy: “When I was younger I did and I would really scrub but now I know it won’t but I still wash it every morning out of habit”


Betsy’s folklore is a superstition her Grandma told her about how if she didn’t wash her neck it would turn black. This seems like any normal persuasive saying a parent or grandparent would tell a child but she took it really far, enough to where Betsy continues to this day remember that warning and wash her neck appropriately. It’s interesting how we keep the same habits even though we find out they do not work.