Let’s talk about poop. To paraphrase a great work of literature, everybody does it. If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, Howard Stern, Dr. Oz, or any of a myriad of health websites, though, there is a good chance that you’ve heard you’re doing it wrong.
That is the claim of the creators of a relatively new product, the Squatty Potty. According to them and their Prince Charming spokesperson, the common way of sitting on a toilet to do your business is not the ideal position. Instead, they say that the natural design of our bodies makes squatting a far more effective stance. Here is the promotional video that went viral and rocketed sales of the toilet accessory designed to ease your bowel movements.
??? Viewer discretion advised if you are offended by unicorns pooping glittery rainbow-colored poop. ???
It’s an interesting claim, so we’re going to look into it to determine if these poo entrepreneurs are full of manure.
What the poop?
The first question to answer is, what exactly is a Squatty Potty?
It is not, as you might think based on the name, a new kind of toilet. The Squatty Potty is a bathroom accessory designed to be used with your existing toilet. It is a plastic, U-shaped platform (or stool, if you will) that sits next to your toilet. Its shape allows you to fit it around the base of your toilet and out of the way when not in use.
When you are sitting on the toilet, you place your feet on top of the Squatty Potty. This has the effect of lifting up your legs and knees so that while you’re seated, your body is resting in a squatted position, replicating how you might stand if you were defecating in the woods.
The history of the Squatty Potty
The story of the Squatty Potty begins with a constipated mother and a son who saw a business opportunity. That son is Bobby Edwards, the inventor of the Squatty Potty and current CEO of the multimillion dollar company.
Bobby’s mother, Judy, complained of being constipated her entire life, which got her son thinking about a potential solution. After a doctor recommended that she use a stool to lift her legs while on the toilet, her son realized there was a void in the market for an item that was specifically designed for this purpose.
In a few short years, his original wooden design was changed to a cheaper plastic product and a website and company were born. In 2011, the company made $17,000. After strong word-of-mouth and an appearance on Shark Tank, a TV show that features aspiring entrepreneurs, the company amassed $33 million in 2017.
Why squat while pooping?
The Squatty Potty seeks to solve a problem of human evolution. As the story goes, human bodies first developed in a world without porcelain thrones. In those days, to poop, they had to squat down while standing. The invention of the toilet made the deed far more comfortable and relaxing, but our bodies internal structures were not suited to a seated pooping position.
Specifically, the problem lies within the pelvis where you will find the puborectalis muscle fibers. When your body is in a sitting position, this link of muscle pulls on your rectum causing a “kink” in the tube (think of pinching a garden hose). Squatting allows the muscle to fall more naturally so that it doesn’t impede the fecal flow.
Indeed, there has been research done on this subject, and it supports the claim that the squatted position is more conducive to a natural, more comfortable poop.
Should I buy a Squatty Potty?
It’s true that there is actual science behind this funnily named product, but does that mean that all of Western society has been pooping wrong? The simple answer is, of course not.
For generations, the vast majority of people have been using a seated toilet without issue. When it comes to something as personal as your bathroom habits, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. You do you.
While it is true that squatting was probably a natural position for our ancestors, that doesn’t make the seated position any less of a natural choice. Squatting might be the absolute ideal position, but sitting is close enough that for most people it won’t make a difference. If you have never had any issues using a seated toilet, keep on keeping on.
For many people, though, the Squatty Potty is a godsend. For those who have frequent issues of constipation or hemorrhoids due to sitting on the toilet for long periods of time, the Squatty Potty could very well be a miracle.
The nice thing about squatting is, if you are uncertain whether it will work for you, you can conduct a simple test before purchasing. The next time you use the toilet, use something to elevate your legs. You could use a household item, stack of books or just hold them up to test out the position The Squatty Potty comes in 7″ and 9″ versions so you’d want something roughly that height. If you find that helps, it’s probably worth your money to invest in the Squatty Potty.
Will the Squatty Potty change the world?
The Squatty Potty was one of those ingenious inventions that perfectly straddles the line between obvious and bizarre. Few people think about pooping enough to stumble across the solution, but once you’ve heard it, you’re probably amazed it took until now for someone to come up with it.
In reality, while Bobby Edwards’ product was a great financial boon for him and his family, he didn’t exactly invent the wheel. The Squatty Potty would be a flop in much of the world. There are many countries where a “squatting toilet” is common. In fact, some people refer to the low-to-the-ground-situated toilet as an “Iranian Toilet” because they are common in Iran.
That’s not to say that the Squatty Potty isn’t an excellent invention, because it clearly is a great product to the tune of thirty-three million dollars and counting.
Your mileage may vary
If you are thinking about purchasing a Squatty Potty, be aware that while it very well will solve your pooping problems, it could create others. One reviewer complained that, being short, unless she completely removed her pants, they touched the toilet bowl, which might or might not be a problem depending on your bathroom cleanliness.
Also, if you have guests over, be prepared to answer a lot of “What is that?” questions. Again, that might not be an issue for you, but some people will be put off if their dinner party conversation shifts to toilet habits.
These are, of course, minor concerns for anyone who has been dealing with uncomfortable poos for a long time. If you have been suffering through your visits to the toilets for months or even years, the Squatty Potty might just be the best thing you’ve ever purchased.