Thursday, 1 September 2011

Your shit don't stink

If you really want to understand the rich diversity of modern society, just take a look at people's toilet habits. There are some who are so comfortable with evacuating their bowels that they're happy to announce to the world that they're off for a shit, with a newspaper neatly rolled up and tucked into their armpit. Others are so mortified by the laying cable at work, they're willing to endure an afternoon of stomach cramps in order to hold it in until they get home. And then there are the hygiene obsessives - they're the ones who insist on using those flushable toilet seat covers.

But it turns out that there's another sub-category of toiler-goer - the ones who pretend that their body's only by-product is a light floral fragrance. They're the ones who've managed to turn a product which sounds like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch into a runaway success. Described on its packaging as "The before-you-go Toilet Conditioner", YouGoGirl promises to "mask embarrassing odours, dampen sounds and eliminate splash". Unfortunately, it can't actually mask the sound of you dropping your guts, but at least passers-by won't be able to determine the amount of mass in transit from any telltale audio.

Despite its ridiculously upbeat name, which repurposes Oprah's empowering chant in a way she never imagined, YouGoGirl thrives on the fears and inhibitions of its target audience. For them, its biodegradable, phosphate-free formula enables them to produce the kind of delightful log that Martha Stewart could fish out and dress up as a Christmas table decoration.

In a profile on, YouGoGirl's inventor claims that he "wants to be as ubiquitous as toilet paper", envisaging a future where every woman's handbag contains a puce packet of his poo-cloaking powder. Although it was originally designed as a gender-neutral solution, early testing showed that women were most interested in disguising their ablutions. According to Rob Bobinski, men are much more comfortable with their pan-clogging proficiency: "You can't say men enjoy the smell, but they're kind of proud of it. Women aren't. It makes sense to go after the people who are most interested..."

So how does it work? The short video demonstration, which thankfully only covers the prep and omits the follow-through, shows how a simple sprinkle in the pan fills the toilet with a soft foam to gently catch your output and mask the stink with its own light perfume. Presumably, women are much less concerned with leaving traces of white powder in a toilet stall, than they are with letting anyone think that they've got a fully functioning digestive tract.

Bizarrely, despite their hang ups, these same women are more than happy to tell their friends and family about how Bobinski's innovative product is number one for number twos. The official website offers up countless gushing testimonials: "I have kept the photo on phone and showed at least 3 ladies so far. It's a great girl conversation piece. And of course we all think it's awesome."

If you're wondering why women get to have all the fun, don't worry, a masculine version called 'GottaGo' is coming soon. The official website explains: "Men benefit greatly when it comes to splash reduction, research also shows that when men have a target while standing and 'going' their aim improves greatly and the splash from within the toilet that lands all over the bowl, rim and floor is dramatically reduced, if not eliminated. So get your man to use YGG and you'll clean a whole lot less. Just tell him it's fun, like writing his name in the snow!" But why stop there? You could give the kids a carrot and few lumps of coal and they can play in the pan for hours. It's so hygienic they won't even need mittens.

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