TUSHY: The Millennials’ Bidet

When Tushy, the easy-install bidet brainchild of Miki Agrawal (known for her revolutionary THINX period-proof underwear), popped up on my Facebook feed last summer, I was delighted. I knew I had to have it. It’s rare to see an advertisement for a pooping accessory, and rarer still to see one so beautiful that it makes you want to buy the product in question. Their imagery is stunning– all fresh color and modern accents– and their mission is simple: help the entire world poop better, in every sense.

Source: Tushy.me

“We’re doing what we call a Bathroom RevoLOOtion,” says Elliot Friar, the Content and Social Manager at Tushy, “Americans use toilet paper that ends up cutting down 15 million trees every year to produce toilet paper and it’s made with chemicals and water, 37 gallons per roll. And you continue consuming it. We have always been very outspoken about everything having to do with not just the bidet itself but our culture and the stigma surrounding pooping. It’s been very stigmatized, almost as much as sex has been. We stigmatize these parts of our bodies, these very natural things that we do, and we decide not to have these conversations. Meanwhile, that pervasive culture has negative effects. There are negative health impacts, negative environmental effects, just the way you feel… It’s about figuring out how to have the conversation, and to change the culture. That’s our goal.”

One of the ways Tushy is changing the world is through its partnership with Samagra, an organization that provides highly impoverished areas of India with access to well-maintained community toilets. When I asked Friar about Tushy’s decision to partner with Samagra, the excitement in his response was palpable.

“We want to help, we want people to be able to feel better about themselves. That’s one reason we partnered with Samagra. For every Tushy sold, one family gains access to clean community toilets built by Samagra. Samagra actually provides education and involves the community in maintaining its facilities. The global sanitation crisis is enormous, you know, one billion people openly defecate, and if we can’t talk about how we [Americans] poop, then how are we going to have that conversation? It’s a health crisis. Part of that is that there is a lack of sanitation. Samagra ensures that the whole picture is taken care of: cleanliness, maintenance, and they make the difference from one community to the next.”

A practical, gorgeous product that not only upgrades our way of life, but also the lives of countless others? Seemingly, there was no catch to be found. Would using this product reveal some flaw in the company’s pristine design? I had to know. I chose the black and gold model, which Friar mentioned is the model the company jokes Beyoncé would use, (I joked that I’m waiting for the rose gold model to come out, because, seriously) and two days later, my gleaming Original Cool Noir Tushy (there are now newer models available) arrived in the mail.

My husband found the package waiting in our mailroom, and as he brought it into our apartment he noted that it may not be for the shy. Bold text across the outer box read: FOR PEOPLE WHO POOP. As a writer of all things uncouth, I was completely endeared. Upon opening the box, the product inside was encased in a minimalist black and white box so beautiful I had to take a photo for Instagram, like any true millennial.

Source: @goshcallie on Instagram

The instructions were straightforward, and after consulting the website for the more in-depth guide, our Tushy was installed within twenty minutes. Many people report installing in as little as ten, but you know, mine is a home for artists, not plumbers. At any rate, it was a simple installation process. The time for testing had arrived.

Sitting on the seat of the toilet after Tushy is installed is no different than a regular toilet– it sits right under the seat, with the sprayer recessed behind the back rim of the bowl. When you’re finished with your business, simply twist the knob and the pressure of the water being released causes a fresh, clean stream from the connection behind your toilet to spray exactly where you need it. I’ve had less-bashful friends describe this aim as “shockingly accurate.” If you want to spray anywhere in particular, simply leaning forward or back changes the angle slightly (it doesn’t really have a lot of area to cover) and perfectly to clean absolutely everything. As I chose the Cool Classic model, which only uses the cooler water in your tap, the bidet’s spray leaves me feeling almost pepperminty-clean. I even referred to this sensation, during my phone call with Friar, as a “radiating, fresh glow coming from my butthole.” My husband, delicate as he is, says it’s a touch too cold for him first thing in the morning, but otherwise his experiences have been positive. Personally, I don’t mind it first thing in the morning, middle of the night, or at any time at all. The splash of water makes me feel significantly cleaner and surprisingly confident. While discussing the confidence factor, Friar brought up the very good point that when you’re using water, you don’t end up with unfortunate “toilet paper confetti,” which is a term I will cherish forevermore. It’s true; when I asked my husband how or if Tushy has changed our sex life, he mentioned that we no longer have the occasional awkward bit of TP. Um… Good.

In addition to feeling cleaner, Tushy promises to reduce the frequency of UTIs, yeast infections, and hemorrhoids. Be still my sex-educator heart.

Some other benefits of the Tushy? As Elliot Friar put it: Period poops.

“Recently, we made a video in collaboration with our cousin brand THINX, the period-proof underwear, about period poops and how no one really talks about how poop changes on your period, how often you go, how you feel, all these things are very real. So we put out a video about that, and we hope to educate the public.”

Prostaglandins (cyclic fatty acid compounds which can cause a myriad of uncomfortable effects including, but not limited to, contractions of the uterus) rush through our systems and cause cramps not only in our uteruses but also our bowels. Throughout menstruation, bowel movements are often looser, more painful, messier, and come at a much more frequent pace. Having something to help those moments be a little bit less uncomfortable, and leave us feeling a bit fresher after it’s all said and done? Sounds good to me. Speaking of mess, readers will be glad to know that I have never suffered any unfortunate splattering due to the bidet. It’s possible that it might even keep my toilet the slightest bit cleaner.

To explore the downsides of Tushy, I consulted my spouse and friends who I’ve all but bribed to try out my bidet, and the only notes any of us could come up with were in regards to the materials used, the intensity of the spray’s pressure, and potentially the $69 price point.

Materials: Tushy is made of a nice, glossy plastic. So far, I see absolutely no reason for ours to suffer any malfunction or injury, but if it were facing a shower or other high-traffic area rather than our bathroom wall, I can see how it may, eventually, bend or perhaps snap. Additionally, my only concern about the accessibility of this product is in its toilet-seat-height, one-side fits all design. For people with limited mobility or other barriers, the low profile, right-handed model may not suit every user. I asked Elliot Friar if there were plans to expand the product line to include more options to expand on Tushy’s accessibility, and he expressed the company’s desire to stay on track with their goal of the initial Tushy launch while also going on to tell me about the opportunities the future may afford.

“I think all innovations, at this point, are on the table. We are an early stage startup, we just launched Tushy this year, so we’re very much in the beginning stages and there’s so much room for innovation. We are launching new products at the end of this year, and we’re in the planning stages of some really exciting future innovations.”

Pressure: Because of its pressure-based drop-down sprayer, Tushy doesn’t begin with a gentle trickle, rather a very steady stream. While this is effective in cleaning, it could potentially be a bit intense for one of the ways I think Tushy could fit into a home: as a perineal irrigation product. Perineal irrigation bottles (often referred to as “peri bottles”) are small, plastic squirt bottles that are squeezed while peeing to water down urine as post-partum parents use the toilet. The reason they are used is to help ease the pain of ammonia-rich urine passing over perineal tearing, healing episiotomies, and stitches. While it is absolutely possible to position oneself so that the intensity of the spray doesn’t hit a delicate spot, it’s certainly something I’d recommend getting very familiar with using before trying it for this purpose.

Price: $69 (the price for Tushy’s newer line of bidets) is affordable in comparison with many luxury products, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every household can afford Tushy. I would gladly buy a new one if my beloved black and gold bidet bit the dust, but would others feel comfortable buying something that costs as much as a (perhaps more practical, in some eyes) pair of jeans, a few hours of babysitting, or half a bag of groceries at Whole Foods?

“We have had some people who have said it may be too expensive, and our answer to that is that first and foremost, we understand that. We are confident in our price currently, which comes with a lot of things– you’re not just buying a Tushy, we’re passionate about making something that is high quality and well made. We take your health seriously. We’ve made it pretty affordable, but if we made the price less, there might be less quality, and we take that seriously as well. It’s a sensitive part of the body. We think this is the just-right price point for people to enter the world of bidets. Secondly, we fund Samagra with every Tushy sold. We think that’s a very important part of the movement. The company was founded on social change. That’s a very integral part of Tushy itself.”

As far as cost goes, while it is unfortunate that some households will not be able to invest in Tushy’s workmanship and charitable contributions, the quality and spirit behind the company is outstanding, and it’s nice to have a luxury item at a price point that a freelancer like myself can afford. Plus, the model I received is now on sale for $51.75, and worth every penny!

As companies’ ethos go, the awareness and attention to detail that Tushy has put into its product is staggering. The product itself is stunning to look at, its function effective, and its design simple. I’ve already recommended it to numerous people, and with each exchange with Elliot Friar, my dedication to this millennial daydream of a company has strengthened. If you want to read more about Tushy, you should visit them at their website, www.Tushy.me. Just be sure you don’t accidentally swap out that “.me” for a “.com,” or you’ll end up with quite an eyeful; the dot-com domain is owned by a high-definition anal porn company. Or, you know, you’re welcome for your newest favorite website.

“Customers comment all the time on Facebook or in Tweets, saying ‘go to Tushy-dot-com, they didn’t really think that through!’ We usually respond with something cheeky like ‘we’re both in the anal business!’ and a winking emoji or something like that. We look at it as a funny, quirky thing– we have the same name, they have the url that happens to be our brand name. We see it as an opportunity to have that conversation too. We have a lot of videos on our website, and there’s one on preparing for anal sex. There shouldn’t be shame around sex. Having that conversation is good, and clean is better.”

This product was sent to me upon my request to review it honestly. Thanks to the Tushy team for supplying me with perhaps my favorite addition to my home this year!

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