The American preoccupation with bathrooms

“Why does America have “so many damn bathrooms”? It’s a question many foreign visitors ask themselves, and with good reason. Over the past half century, the number of bathrooms per person in the US has doubled, to a 1:1 ratio, and these rooms are continuing to multiply. They’re getting bigger, too: the typical size of a bathroom in a new family home in the US has doubled since the 1970s, from 35sq ft to 70sq ft.

“The obsession with what used to be the smallest room in the house has reached particularly insane levels among the super-rich. Last year, it was reported that a $49.9m mansion in Bel Air, California had eight bedrooms – and 20 bathrooms. Across the nation, the share of houses with ten or more bathrooms has almost doubled in the past decade. This is partly down to America’s abundant space, but it’s also a matter of fashion. With their Jacuzzis, steam showers, rainfall heads and other “gizmos”, bathrooms have become status symbols, but they’ve also acquired a new role as sanctuaries where people, in today’s constantly connected world, can luxuriate in seclusion. The bath, originally conceived by the Romans as a space to “convene with the world, has become one of the last places where we can truly disappear from it”.  (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic)

Weird.  It must be mainly a Californian thing.  In twenty-five years I have never heard a single person talking about bathrooms or the number of them they have.  Maybe that’s because they think it is a bit silly and over-the-top?    Or maybe our neighbors are already extraordinarily clean and don’t need multiple bathrooms?

If some people have all this money to throw away, perhaps they might use it instead on donations to charity.  There are folk out there who could use the help.

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