What If We Normalized Poop?
Poop is gross. But does it have to be such a big secret that we carry? Does it have to be taboo? Literally, everyone does it. So why is it such a big deal?
Picture this: it’s a warm, sunny, summer afternoon. You’re heading to a backyard BBQ with friends. Some you know, some you don’t. You bring your own food because you know the typical BBQ food makes your tummy go all funny. You walk in, give a few "heys!" and hugs, and walk over to the table to drop off your dish. NO ONE ASKS YOU WHY YOU BROUGHT IT.
Some people ask what you have. Some people show you what they brought. They explain why they have what they have. You laugh and joke about how certain foods make you go number two like people joke about alcohol makes them pee. You eat the food and enjoy it.
Maybe you will have an IBS flare
So you excuse yourself to the bathroom. You’re in there for maybe 30 min, and when you’re done you have three different scents of Poo-Pourri. There’s wet wipes or even better, a bidet to clean yourself up and you head back out. You don’t worry about people looking at you funny or wondering why you were in there so long. They know, but they don’t care. It’s normal. It happens.
Now back to reality, where it’s the complete opposite. You get bombarded with “Why aren’t you eating this? Why'd you bring that?” and spend most of your time at the party trying to find a time where you can sneak away with as few people as possible not noticing. You finally leave, frustrated and discouraged.
Just the stress of the idea of leaving the house is enough to keep people home. They want to avoid the questions, the looks, the racing thoughts. It’s no wonder that people with IBS want to stay home.
Is there a way to normalize poop?
That’s a tough one. I have a tough time doing it, and I’m the one writing the article! Even above I referenced it as "number two," instead of just calling it "poop." That’s what it is.
It’s funny. We can talk about poop when it comes to other beings, like horses or dogs. I worked at a horse farm growing up, and poop was as normal as breathing. I would walk in it, scoop it, and in a pinch, pick it up with my bare hands (I know, it’s disgusting, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do). But when it comes to humans, it’s such a taboo subject. We can say, “ I gotta go pee” no problem, but saying “I gotta go poop” is considered gross. Pee is gross too; it’s a form of getting rid of bodily waste. So why is poop so much grosser?
If you think about it, the stigma towards poop starts at a young age. If you found out that one of your classmates in second grade went poop, it was the juiciest secret. Spending longer than five minutes in the bathroom was enough to start whispering and giggling amongst classmates when you came out. In some ways, throwing up was considered cool compared to pooping. Throwing up meant you got to go home! Pooping meant you were gross and had cooties. And forget it if you got pink eye. Kids wouldn’t stop talking for days.
For our community, doing to doo is a more central part of our life than most other people. But outside of here trying to get other people to emphasize and not trivialize this serious condition can feel impossible.
How do you guys try to "normalize" your condition with other people? Do you talk openly about it? I’d love to hear what you guys think.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?