No Toilets in Southern Living

September 6, 2015 | By | Comments (11)
No Toilets in SL

Photo: Laurey Glenn

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.

No Toilets in SL



  1. Niquie

    I receive way too many emails from this site, but the reason I don’t unsubscribe is simple: Grumpy makes me laugh out loud. You can stereotype every region in this great country of ours. I am from California. We are ALL hippies, we ALL smoke weed and we ALL play hooky from school and work when the surf’s up. ALL Californians are just so way cool, dude! Humor: Never Leave Home Without It.

    September 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm
  2. Judy G. Hooks

    For landscaped service stations, check Ervin’s Tire in Manning, SC. Also has a fireplace in the waiting room and rockers on the porch!

    September 11, 2015 at 8:53 pm
  3. Colin M

    I love Kathleen’s idea about an article on landscaping trailers. I suggest taking it even further and have a series on landscaping other common-and-unattractive structures, like gas stations, metal tool sheds, junk yards, rear facades of shopping centers, and the like. Grumpy- America needs your guidance!

    September 9, 2015 at 8:55 am
  4. Mary

    I’ve never read Grump’y column before, but even this born and bred northerner could understand and appreciate Grump’s tongue-in-cheek style!

    September 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm
  5. Kathleen

    Our rural school back in the 1960’s had an outhouse, our farm had an outhouse through the 1980’s, & the country church we attended Bible school at had an outhouse @ least through the 1990’s.Maybe it still does.
    It’s OK.
    I always wonder more why Southern Living almost never shows TV sets. You know every living room has one but how many do you see in the photo layouts?
    I want to see a spread on landscaping for trailers one day, too.

    September 8, 2015 at 8:26 am
  6. linda

    Bless your heart Elizabeth, you’ve misplaced your sense of humor.

    September 6, 2015 at 11:55 pm
  7. Sue Schwartz

    apparently, Elizabeth is not a regular reader of Grumpy’s column. I’m intuiting (rt word?) that from her post.

    September 6, 2015 at 9:56 pm
  8. LeAnna Dupane

    Elizabeth needs a glass of wine and a sense of humor

    September 6, 2015 at 5:39 pm
  9. Rita

    I had never noticed that toilets were nover shown in SL. Found the article informative. Re: The joke about outhouses. Thought it funny. Most Southerners have a sense of humor.

    September 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm
  10. Elizabeth

    because of this article, I will most likely never buy another Southern Living magazine again. I could understand the reasoning, until the end of the article showing an outhouse and commenting that’s what southerner’s use. I don’t find the humor. Goodbye Southern Living.

    September 6, 2015 at 2:24 pm
  11. Jean

    I am sure that Camilla would be glad to loan you her toilet seat so as to give “class” to a toilet picture.

    September 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm

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