by Alanna Okun
The exchanges I have with my younger sister are cyclical:
1. She tells me that she has been doing a thing — say, eating avocado toast for breakfast every morning, or using a Shark Tank-approved plastic-stool-looking thing to make pooping easier and more comfortable.
2. I scoff at the thing, because I am extremely old and impossibly wise and kind of an ass.
3. I try the thing.
4. I love the thing.
And so it went with the Squatty Potty. I came home for a visit and in the bathroom I used to share with Moriah (the sister in question) was this purple … thing, nestled around the base of the toilet, clinical and vaguely sinister. It looked like it was meant for a toddler.
No, Moriah patiently explained, it’s for everyone who wants to improve their defecatory experience. (My words, not hers, because I am actually very squeamish talking or writing about poop.) When you sit down, you place your feet on either side of the stool and, as the name suggests, squat. According to the product’s website, this motion “unkinks” your colon. Also according to the website, it “makes going #2, #1!” Haha.
The first couple of times I went to the bathroom, I ignored the Squatty Potty, kicking it off to the side before settling in. I’ve been reliably expelling waste from my body for 25 years, I figured. I knew what I was doing. I was set in my ways. But then I figured, hey, even though I think I know everything about everything, there is a slim chance that I do not. And so the next time, I propped my feet, and I squatted.
As always, Moriah was right. It removed the grunting and the guesswork. It cut my time spent in half. It made me wonder about what other ways I’ve been living my life just below par, what other minuscule adjustments I could make to add minutes and meaning. It gave me an excremental crisis, if you will. (You don’t have to.)
If you’re not into the plastic version, it also comes in bamboo and teak. They’re more expensive, but also look much more discreet. Whatever the material, I missed it when I left my family’s house to return to my Squatty Potty-free apartment. My sister sent me a from-the-knees-down image of her feet resting on her Squatty Potty. It was a brag, and a rallying cry, and a moment of connection.
Like most Goop-reading 20-somethings, “natural” matters to me. Sure, I bleach bomb my hair every six weeks, but I would rather have my kitchen stink of white vinegar than bring “harsh” chemicals into my home.
So when I went about refinishing the secondhand Broyhill Saga cabinet I got for $25 (which the previous owners covered in trendy gray paint), I didn’t want to use a traditional paint peeler. I tried warm water and a scraper. I scraped harder and nicked a corner. It took hours to peel just a few square feet. Defeated, my partner and I hit the hardware store and picked up a few cans of CitriStrip. Biodegradable, noncorrosive, and nontoxic, it was a peeling experience.
Spray on, leave for 30 minutes, and scrape away paint with little to no effort. I used it indoors and it didn’t even reek: All it left was a pleasant, somewhat fake-smelling orange odor.