y co-worker and I were 40 minutes into a business road trip when it hit me: I was about to, um, crap my pants. ‘I totally have to pee,’ I lied, starting to sweat. ‘Like, urgently.’
This wasn’t my first bathroom emergency. It’s happened on the train, at the mall, during brunch. With so much experience, I can read my audience. This woman got squeamish when I said spicy food makes me perspire, so I knew she couldn’t handle the truth. Thankfully, we made it to a McDonald’s.
I’m grateful I didn’t soil myself – but why couldn’t I have just said I might? Everybody poops, so why do we pretend otherwise? I know plenty of gals who talk openly about sex – including embarrassing incidents – but are tight-lipped about their time on the toilet, as though they’d never been in a crappy situation. In fact, women are on average twice as likely as men to endure chronic constipation, and the SA Pharmaceutical Journal estimates that 10 to 20% of the population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its hallmark symptoms, including diarrhoea.
‘There is a basic disgust associated with poop,’ says Nick Haslam, author of Psychology In The Bathroom. He points out that faeces has always been linked to disease and infection. (Truth: it’s not as nasty as you think; it’s 75% water.) But some candid celebs are loosening up the conversation. Cameron Diaz writes in The Body Book about inspecting your poop to monitor your health, and Jennifer Lawrence said on The Late Show that she sh*t her pants once while dealing with a possible ulcer. Is shame getting flushed away?
‘Reducing stigma is a good thing,’ says Rose George, author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World Of Human Waste And Why It Matters. Talking about defecation, especially with doctors, could help diagnose medical issues more quickly. Here is some back-end background for your next exchange.