Why talking about poop is so popular online
Kaelyn Gutierrez never could have imagined the joy she would feel hearing the words, "are you the girl posting about being constipated?" while she was out to dinner recently.
But such is life for the Los Angeles-based content creator whose videos about her chronic constipation took off on TikTok.
I was like, 'Whoa, like, people are actually watching this.' But it is also making people feel comfortable because she was like, 'I just want to thank you,'" Gutierrez tells Yahoo Life about her recent restaurant interaction with the fan.
Constipation, diarrhea and other matters of the bowels used to be considered TMI topics that you wouldn't dare confide to even your closest friends — let alone the entire internet. But thanks to an increasingly robust community of over-sharers online— such as Nadya Okamoto, Christine Vetick and Jocelyn Bedard, all of whom talk about topics related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — poop talk has become almost as common as discussing what you had for breakfast.
For Gutierrez, talking about her bowel movements (or lack thereof) was the natural progression of an already overly-candid online persona that she shares with her community of more than 895,000 TikTok followers.
"I went through having sepsis from a tampon,” she says. “So, like, I've talked about a lot of bodily stuff.”
From there, a troubling bout with constipation inspired a new wave of content for Gutierrez.
"I realized I hadn't pooped in a week, and I make a lot of food content. So I was trying to look up things that helped with constipation," she says.
In her quest to quell her backed up bowels, Gutierrez posted a series of remedies ranging from classics, such as Miralax and prune juice, to more unconventional methods like digestion-focused yoga and stomach massages.
And while there was a time when matters of the restroom were kept on the hush-hush, the popularity of potty talk online seems to be just the latest natural progression of the growing desirability for relatable, unfiltered content, says Gutierrez.
"We're all going through something. Every single person I know has been constipated before," says Gutierrez, who notes she feels no shame about her posts.
"I'm not embarrassed because I always want to be a space where people can come and be like, 'Oh, I've been through that,'" she says.
But while plenty of people have found solace in the frankness of her post, she has gotten some pushback.
"I did get a lot of judgment, but when I look at that, I'm like, 'What are you, 12? Yelling at me about my poop?' I don't care. Like, we all do it,” she says.
Feculence content is not exclusive to Gutierrez. Hashtags such as #hotgirlshaveibs, which has raked in nearly 25 million views, have become a fun and quirky way for girls online to normalize the reality of dealing with the unglamorous realities of bowel issues.
Content creator Kennedy Eurich knows this all too well after her unpredictable stomach left her "sharting" mid-hook-up. And what did Eurich do next? What any Gen Z influencer would—she shared all the messy details to TikTok.
"I was on the way home, and the whole ride home, I was like, 'How am I going to tell this on TikTok?'' she said tells Yahoo Life.
Rather than be embarrassed, Eurich found humor in the absurdity of the situation, noting, "I'm like, 'What's the big deal? I s*** my pants on his bed. It's not that big of a deal. It's not the end of the world.’”
But some of her commenters were taken aback by her openness, she says, explaining, “Everyone is like, 'If God himself asked me if it happened, I think I would lie to his face,' so sometimes I think I have no conscience when it comes to stuff," she says.
But no matter what, adds Eurich, who moved to Austin, Texas in 2022, there is always someone benefiting from the content, which makes it worth it to her.
"One of my first times going out here this girl came up to me and was like, 'I'm so happy you talked about it because I s**** my pants in front of my boyfriend once.' To this day I have people coming up and telling me their pooping stories," she says, expressing gratitude for the openness she has built on her platform.
"I realized there were a lot of girls that were really scared to talk about poop but now I guess after I spoke on it, they were like, 'I will tell the story about the time I s*** my pants.' But there's nothing wrong with it. I'm a person. I'm a real person. I have real struggles," says Eurich.
And it’s true that the trend has inspired more than just open conversations surrounding mid-hookup accidents; it's destigmatizing common bowel issues that could help expose serious issues.
"I think a lot of people didn't realize how bad they feel or that something they thought was normal is completely abnormal, but because of the awareness we have from social media they are able to access information," says Dr. Robin Rose, a gastroenterologist who posts helpful information related to stomach health online.
"I always say that we are a constipated nation," she tells Yahoo Life, joking that her kids refer to her as the "poop doctor."
"Most people tend to be constipated because of the standard American diet, lack of fiber, or overly processed foods, so we do tend to constipate, which is really bad for us because it's one of the main emunctories," she says, referring to organs that help remove bodily waste.
Thanks to the open forum social media has become, many health-related concerns that typically get brushed under the rug due to being unsexy are getting attention.
"If women are ashamed of a certain condition, or symptoms that they're suffering with, and this normalizes it a little bit more for them, [It] is beneficial, because then they'll be more apt to recognize that they have an issue and, hopefully, seek help for it so that they can get better," says Rose.
But of course, viewers should always exercise discretion when consuming any health-related content on social media.
"If you're going to follow influencers in the healthcare space you should make sure that person is reputable, board certified or licensed. You can't really give medical advice legally over social media but you can certainly make suggestions that can benefit people around diet, movement. and stress management," says Rose.
Ultimately, in-person care is still your best bet for any pressing concerns.
"To really understand each person, the care needs to be individualized,” she stresses. “It's great that they can get some nuggets of information online through social media. But if they really are having problems seek help from a reputable source, like a good physician.”
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