January 10, 2018

Overcoming the Shame of taking a Sh*t in Public.

Warning: “foul” language ahead! 


Real life scenario:

It’s Christmas day, and you are at your in-laws house. You’ve been skulking in the kitchen around the sugar cookies for too long because you just want a moment’s peace. But now it’s time to gather in the main room for some traditional reason and…

You have to fart loud enough to rival the blare of a fog horn. 

What do you do?

Do you quickly traipse through the feet of unknown relatives to try and get to the hallway? What about praying to a higher power in hopes that you have sphincter control and can let it sneakily escape? Worst case scenario, you hold it and suffer the effects of extreme bloat as you drive home while listening to a family member go on about nothing.

My hat is off to all the brave souls who are comfortable enough in their digestive exiting habits to just let it rip. But to all ye who feel ashamed in your farting and pooping habits, I am here to raise a question to society: why do we care to hold in our normal bodily functions?

Next scenario:

You’re in public, and you have…to…poop. Like now! 

Why do we hold it and torture ourselves for safe passage to our home toilet? Even if you do decide to use the public bathroom, why are there websites that go into great detail on how to poop in public to disguise or completely hide your heinous act of defecating, with tricks like flushing fast or unnecessarily running the tap water? Everyone will already know you’re totally guilty if that stall flings open and it smells like flowers, anyway.

So why do we go through this ballet of shame to try to act like it didn’t happen?

As much as I want these ideas to reach everybody, you folks know who I’m talking to. Ladies, why in this day and age are we hiding beneath these outdated fears? More importantly, why are we continuing to teach them to our daughters? Please do not take these words as judgmental; I am in the same stall in life as you guys.

Full disclosure: all of the aforementioned scenarios have actually happened to me.

And I only recently realized how unnecessary and silly these behaviors are.

So I get it. Here’s how it typically plays out:

You fart, or poop. Panic sets in because either A) someone heard it, B) it smells, or C) both.

Are you freaking out because you inwardly already view yourself to be “less than”? Does farting or pooping aloud bring more attention to the already present inner dislike of yourself?

Or are you flipping out because you were taught it’s just not ladylike to fart like a man? What does it even mean to be ladylike? Is being ladylike part of the idea that femininity is only possible if we hide the less glamorous parts of ourselves?

If being ladylike means I have to work all day, ensure the kids don’t die, feed the horde, and disguise my naturally occurring shit, then I personally want no part in it.

It’s as if we are thinking on a hidden level that we are not allowed to talk about and share the smellier parts of ourselves. I’m not just talking about poop now—I’m referring to all aspects of life. It’s as if we were taught at a young age that we need to hide and keep secret everything about our nature that would make someone else uncomfortable. As if our truth, deep down, is not worthy of burdening someone else with through open expression, whether that truth be the uncomfortable emotions we feel or the stinky poop we carry within.

Just like holding in a fart and being in pain from the gas, have you ever held back tears for fear of being “too much” and suffered as a result? When we avoid vulnerability and try to maintain a pretty image of ourselves for the world, we are the ones who pay.

Our social taboos in society need to shift if we are going to foster change in this world. How can our daughters step up and truly embrace themselves if we are teaching them that they need to hide their basic, natural functions of farting and pooping? How can our daughters grow into mentally confident human beings if we are teaching them that they should not share their less fabulous self-aspects? Share those fabulous farts with the world, ladies!

The only way to spread some light in this otherwise dark world is to trudge through the darkness itself.

We should encourage all of our children, regardless of gender, to face the aspects of themselves that make them uncomfortable. But we cannot just tell our children what to do and hope the lesson sticks. We ourselves must first sit with the behaviors and thought patterns that make us uncomfortable. Only when we blaze our own trail of finding ourselves can we teach others to do the same.

So let this be a call to action! The next time you are faced with the decision to fart or dart, ask yourself this: why am I holding it in? In your moment of gassy despair, take a second to think about why you are making yourself miserable. Are you trying to appear demure in front of your hot date? (Good for you. But then remind yourself that your partner is going to see you poop, on stage, anyway, if you decide to have a kid.)

Try not to settle for the first answer that comes to you. Take that first answer and then ask why. Keep up that pattern until you get to an answer that makes you uncomfortable. Your final answer to yourself will probably be the one that makes you cringe most. Once you get to that reason, take a deep breath. You’ve just done a lot of work in understanding yourself! Focus on your breath if any tumultuous emotions come to the surface. By putting your sole focus on your breathing, you’re allowing yourself to feel that emotion. You are allowing yourself to feel what needs to be addressed. Most importantly, awareness of our own thoughts is the first step to creating change.

We all poop and fart. It is such a given fact that I don’t even need a source to state it. To go out of our way to hide it is an act of deceit. We’re lying to ourselves and to all of the people us that we’re trying to keep out of our poop loop.

This is a big deal for me, and I can’t help but imagine that this might be a big deal for you too. It’s going to take a lot of patience to be able to just fart aloud or brazenly poop in public. And even if you still want to hide all things toilet talk, that’s okay: I only ask that you make the effort to understand why you have that proclivity to hide your bodily functions away.

But I think we would all surprise ourselves at how quickly this social no-no can change if we all start working on it little by little—together. Poop jokes aside, we are not alone in sharing this behavior. The behavior of hiding bodily functions is a social construct that isn’t helpful, and I think we owe it to our daughters and to the future of all society to move beyond it.

How can we help change our world if we can’t even be comfortable enough with ourselves to publicly poop, first?






Author: Meredith Martin
Image: Amy Wilbanks/Flickr 
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Travis May

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