Grumpy knows what you’re thinking. “In all the rooms in all the houses in all the issues of Southern Living, I’ve never seen a toilet. Why? Do the people who own the houses that Southern Living photographs lack basic bodily functions? What’s the deal?”
The photo above comes from a photoshoot we did in Birmingham earlier this year for a story about great houseplants for every room. Kentucky garden designer Jon Carloftis, who styled the photos, apparently thought “every room” meant “every room.” So he placed three pots of cast-iron plants on a table inside the bathroom, because cast-iron plants take low light and have no sense of shame.
“Ummmm………there’s a toilet in the shot,” I said at the time.
“That’s just part of the bathroom,” was the reply. “Houseplants are great in bathrooms because they like the humidity.”
“But we never run pictures of toilets. We just don’t.”
“Oh, don’t worry. It’ll be cool. Look, we’ll just place some folded towels on top of the lid and nobody will notice the toilet.”
“Now it looks like a toilet with towels on it,” I said. “This shot will never run in the magazine.”
I was right. It never did. And it never will.
Why Toilet Photos Never Run
To get further insight into the ban on toilet photos, I mentioned the photo above to my wife, Judy.
“Oh, gross!” she said. “Who wants to look at a toilet? Did they show the water?”
“No, the lid was down. It had towels on top of it. But what’s the big deal? Women are always complaining about the toilet seat not being down. They look at the water.”
“They want the toilet seat down when they have to go, you moron,” she said. “If you’d ever fallen into a toilet in the middle of the night, you’d know that. The lid is different. No woman wants to see the water when she walks into the bathroom. We know what the water is for.”
“That’s why we put towels on the lid.”
“Could you still see the toilet?”
“Oh, that’s just gross!”
And that’s one of the reasons toilet photos don’t appear in Southern Living. The mere sight of a toilet transforms a pretty and instructive photo into something that makes women want to throw up. Vomiting is something else we never photograph. (I’m OK with that.)
There’s a second reason why you never see toilets in Southern Living. Our readers live in the South. Down here we use one of these: a composting toilet.