Writing Activity Describe a Bathroom

George Augustus Freezor - The Bath
George Augustus Freezor – The Bath
Pears soap advertisement
Maurice Lobre – Cabinette de toilette de Jacques-Emile Blanche 1888
Illustration from an advertisement for American-Standard that appeared in magazines in July 1948
Illustration from an advertisement for American-Standard that appeared in magazines in July 1948
Kohler Bathroom 1927 Art by Roy Huse Collins
All Around Me Opposites by Shirley Hughes
All Around Me Opposites by Shirley Hughes
Marie Hall Ets, 1960 bathroom
Marie Hall Ets, 1960

A RECENTLY VACATED FAMILY BATHROOM

In the morning I would roll from my bed without turning on the light to put on my turquoise polka-dot girdle, my pantyhose, and my dress. In the bathroom my father ran water, coughed, blew his nose, rubbed the radio dial back and forth, spat into the sink, and flushed the unhappy old toilet. I finished my reluctant dressing ritual as he burst from the bathroom in a cloud of steam, and went to wash my face, brush my hair and pee. The toilet seat was moist with steam, the mirror fogged, the bath mat damply rumpled on the floor, and the sink blobbed with his thick discharges of toothpaste. I performed my toilet cocooned in my father’s smell of hair oil, Old Spice deodorant, sweat, and faded urine, and then went to sit at the breakfast table with him.

from Two Girls, Fat And Thin by Mary Gaitskill

CARNIVALESQUE BATHTIME

There’s a limited number of scenarios available to picture book storytellers for young children. In a young child’s life, bathtime features large. Bathtime can be terrifying and fun in equal measure. Commonly, the main child character (or child stand-in) does not want to have a bath, and considers it a form of torture.

But once the child gets into the bath, they generally (though not always!) start having a great time.

Parenting: Can’t get kids into the bath; then you can’t get them out.

Oili Tanninen, 1967 bathroom
Oili Tanninen, 1967 bathroom

Even for art and stories for adults, the bath is depicted as an escape, sometimes in a wacky kind of way, where our true (secret) selves are revealed.

THE CREEPY BATHROOM

Just as kitchens can be either cosy or creepy, so too can bathrooms.

Barbara Ninde Byfield (1930 - 1988) The Haunted Spy Doubleday, 1969. Written and illustrated.
Barbara Ninde Byfield (1930 – 1988) The Haunted Spy Doubleday, 1969. Written and illustrated.
Poster by Dutch artist Koen van Os (1910–1983) rubber duck bath
Poster by Dutch artist Koen van Os (1910–1983)

Header painting: Francois Flameng – Bathing of Court Ladies in the 18th Century 1888

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