A few months ago, my boyfriend returned home from a night out with the guys all excited about a new discovery: the Squatty Potty.
“Everyone was talking about it,” he gleefully told me as he hit “confirm” on his Amazon order. “It helps you poop.”
Curious about whether I was late to the potty party, I turned to Instagram to see if anyone else was shilling for this supposedly life-changing accessory—a footstool that’s designed to hug the base of your toilet, allowing you to elevate your feet to the supposed perfect height for a more effortless poo. I was instantly inundated with hundreds of photos of happy Squatty Potty customers, including several by big-deal wellness influencers (including nutritionist Meghan Telpner, celebrity trainer Hunter Cook, and Los Angeles yoga instructor Samantha Wyman).
Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised—nothing’s sacred on social media, after all—but I wasn’t expecting to see quite so many joyful toilet selfies and artfully arranged flat-lays featuring the Squatty Potty front and center. What, exactly, about this $25 hunk of plastic (it now also comes in stylish natural wood, teak and bamboo) has sparked such ardor, to the extent that it’s now totally acceptable to tell the world how awesome your bowel movements are?
For starters, Squatty Potty’s (ahem) cheeky approach to branding has a lot to do with it. The company first garnered attention when Utah-based founders Judy and Bobby Edwards (a mother-son duo) appeared on Shark Tank in 2014—a feat that scored them $1 million in orders in the two days after their episode aired. But it didn’t truly go viral until a year later, when the now-famous online video titled “This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop” was unleashed upon the world (check it out below).
“Squatty Potty’s amazing, rainbow ice cream-pooping unicorn video is actually the best thing on the internet, in my opinion,” raves Telpner. (She’s not the only one who thinks so—it’s been viewed more than 25 million times.) “When they sent me my first Squatty Potty, it came with a newsletter called The Deuce—bathroom reading full of articles on bowel health. They’ve made it okay, even cute, to talk about how we’re going about our daily business.”
And then there’s the fact that the thing actually works. As colon hydrotherapist Joyce Rockwood, who works at hip Los Angeles wellness center The Springs, explains it: “The worst position to be in while you’re on the toilet is with your feet on the floor. You should be simulating a squatting posture so your puborecatalis muscle opens and the bowel movement can drop out of the body. When you have your feet off the ground, you’ll notice how easy it is to eliminate.” (Squatty Potty cites research that back up her claim, although larger, more recent studies seem to be lacking.) She’s so evangelical about the Squatty Potty that The Springs now has them in its bathrooms and sells them in its gift shop.
Rockwood goes on to say that the benefits of better BMs go way beyond nixing bloating and hemorrhoids. “Once you start ‘taking out the garbage’ more systematically, everything in your body is affected,” she claims. (Apparently, plenty of people are in need of assistance in this department; “in the US alone, $1.3 billion was spent in 2015 on laxatives,” Telpner tells me.)
Given that over $15 million worth of Squatty Potties sold in 2015, a lot of us are likely bidding our chronic bathroom issues adieu. So maybe it’s no wonder we’re all so keen on sharing the love with anyone who will listen. “When you feel better in your own skin, you’re gonna talk about anything,” points out Rockwood.
I can’t say I totally agree—no matter how good I’m feeling, I cringe at posting the standard type of selfies, let alone ones that allude to number two—but my boyfriend and I have definitely had a few, shall we say, enlightening conversations about the effects of our Squatty Potty in the privacy of our home. And, in a weird way, talking about bathroom habits does bring a couple closer together. A magical unicorn, indeed.
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