Is IBS really a hot girl thing?


According to TikTok, all hot girls have stomach problems.

For forever, women have been conditioned to hide the fact they have fully functioning digestive systems. We’ve left taps running, used showers as decoys, endured insufferable cramps (you know the ones), and in times of deep despair, we’ve feigned emergencies to escape unfavourable bathroom situations.

While I have had many toilet stall showdowns with fellow ladies, in which neither party will admit the need to use the very toilet they’re sat on, a woman’s instinct to withhold and deny the contents of her bowels (I’m so sorry for that sentence) is never more prevalent than in the company of a male or romantic suitor.

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Mainstream media as a whole has perpetuated the narrative that girls don’t ‘go’, but it was an episode of Sex and the City that cemented the belief for me that in order to be hot and dateable, I must deny all bodily functions. Basically, Carrie accidentally lets a fart slip in front of Mr Big. Following said fart, Big laughs while Carrie is the worst (as she always is) and flees the scene of the crime, shouting “Shut up, shut up!”

When Carrie divulges what happened to her trusty trio, citing the stinky to blame for three sexless days with Big, Miranda smacks sense back into ol’ mate: “You farted, you’re human”. I felt momentarily better, until Samantha reinforces some real patriarchal bullshit, denying human-ness as an excuse for Carrie’s toot: “No honey, you’re a woman, and men don’t want women to be human”. Hey Google, play TikTok sound ‘I think this has affected me mentally’.

When it comes to toilet time, there is absolutely a gendered double standard. Women are expected to be pure, groomed, sparkling clean and absolutely, unequivocally poopless, while our male counterparts are free to have literal farting competitions, all while proudly claiming that a girl farting is a literal deal-breaker for them. Perhaps this is why in 2007, Poo-Pourri released its infamous ad titled ‘Girls Don’t Poop’, advertising a before-you-go toilet spray that claimed to “save your relationships”.

Between Samantha Jones and Poo-Pourri, it’s apparent that mainstream media condones the message that women’s pooping is to be kept top-secret, if we are to be dateable. But this secret is harder kept when you suffer from a digestive issue like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which has dreamy symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation.

Cue TikTok, where women have reclaimed digestive ailments like IBS as a hot girl problem. With hashtags and trends like “All hot girls have stomach problems” and “Hot girls with IBS”, TikTokers have kicked the proverbial bathroom door wide open when it comes to toilet talk. While tongue-in-cheek, the significance of women claiming their right to not only poop but to do it loud and proud as a hot girl is monumental.

@boygeniusrapsIBS-D gets all the attention♬ The Magic Bomb (Questions I Get Asked) [Extended Mix] – Hoàng Read

Historically, we have been conditioned to keep our need to use the bathroom quiet. So to see women lay out their gastrointestinal issues online – be it IBS, constipation or bloating – is actually a huge step towards destigmatising digestive issues while simultaneously smashing the patriarchy. And that’s what we like to see.

But as we hot girls bond over the chaotic nature of IBS, and our third trimester-esque bloating, it raises an important question: why do stomach issues seem to be more prevalent in women? I took to the internet in search of answers and the results were unanimous in confirming that IBS really is a hot girl problem. According to one study, women are twice more likely than men to have IBS – a truly wild thought when I consider some of the men in my life’s approach to gut health.

If I so much as look at a burrito, I bloat, and yet I’m surrounded by men who believe expiry dates on milk are merely suggestive. They treat every meal like they’re at a Food Star all you can eat restaurant, without even a smidge of digestive discomfort. How is that possible? Well, the evidence suggests that the nerve cells in our intestines are just more sluggish than men’s. Rude and uncalled for @biology.

@gracejohannai eat TUMS like candy at this point #fyp #ImAGhost #stomachache #megantheestallion #REMDreamCheck♬ busy doin hot girl ish – Chelsea

Speaking with Well and Good, gut health expert and author Ellie Krieger offered more insight into why women have pulled the short straw when it comes to digestive issues like IBS. While we’re quick to blame a bout of IBS on what we eat, Ellie believes it’s more likely to do with how we feel when eating. Stress directly affects the nervous system and changes the gut microbiota, which alters how quickly food moves through the digestive system.

According to Ellie, “Women are more stressed-out than men and it presents itself in the stomach”. So, in the case that your IBS is tied to your psyche, a dairy-free, gluten-free, taste-free diet won’t save you. Then there are our truly chaotic hormones – as if the mood swings, back acne and PMS symptoms aren’t enough, our hormones also love to wreak havoc in our guts. “Hormones affect the bacteria in the microbiome, too,” Ellie confirms.

The likes of sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are likely to blame, which could explain the loathed IBS flare-ups at different points throughout a menstrual cycle. In an effort to negate the PP’s (period poops), Ellie recommends popping a probiotic specifically formulated with women’s health in mind, to keep hormones and PH-level in check.

With it scientifically confirmed that IBS is in fact a hot girl problem, I can’t help but wonder why it has become such a social trend? We’ve gone from a deny ’til we die mentality when it comes to toilet talk, to creating entire online personas centred around being unapologetically vocal about our IBS strugs – so what’s changed?

@claraandherselfhot girls with stomach problems♬ original sound – Clara

Well, it’s a trend that spiked in popularity at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and as we now know, with IBS intrinsically linked to stress, there’s a clear correlation to be made there regarding its prevalence. And with more hot girls than ever experiencing the wrath of IBS, coinciding with the lockdown of the world and humanity being starved of human connection, our inclination to bond online over literally anything has turned the internet into our own personal diaries, where no topic is too taboo to TikTok about.

Then there’s the influence of ‘it’ girl Emma Chamberlain, the internet’s unofficial resident IBS spokesperson, who has truly cemented IBS as a staple of the hot girl existence. Her weekly vlogs consistently see her discussing her IBS flare-ups, and on rare occasions, she’s been known to toot on camera – and for that reason, we stan.

“BuT wHy Do GiRlS nEeD tO tAlK aBoUt PoOp?” I hear the naysayers whine in the distance. While we don’t need to talk about our hot girl stomach issues, the fact is it’s 2021 and women are done pretending we don’t have bowel movements. In addition to destigmatising and normalising a human bodily function, this trend is raising awareness around a very common digestive issue and encouraging other hot girls to unite, and take an interest in their own gut health. Hot girl shit is smashing the patriarchy, one IBS-themed TikTok video at a time. 

For more information of IBS, try this.

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