i think grossness is a vital aspect of life btw and we all experience it and i think its important to represent in art and i think oversanitization of popular media is 100% our downfall. things are gross and disgusting and yucky and thats life we cannot deny ourselves this


I keep thinking about this in the context of caring for my ageing patients. No one TELLS them, before they’re old, how things are going to change, or why. No one talks about the loss of elastin, and how that doesn’t just affect your skin looking old, but also how it heals. No one warns them that their skin will become paper-thin if they live long enough, incredibly fragile and easy to tear. Just “hurr dur wrinkly!!!”

No one tells them their bowels are going to lose strength and coordination, so it gets more and more difficult to have bowel movements. No one warns them about obstipation, much less bowel obstructions. I have a saying I repeat often in clinic: “Proper pooping prevents problems!” I say it because it makes people chuckle, because it destigmatizes needing to poop. Everyone poops. And it turns out pooping requires both a complex network of nerves to create peristalsis, and stools soft enough to move through the bowels, and I have watched more than one elderly patient die because their bowels stopped working right.

No one talks about hemorrhoids, so I have patients coming in terrified by blood in their stools–and listen, blood in your poop is definitely a good reason to see a doctor; if you’re over 50 and you haven’t had a colonoscopy, get one. It’s the best health screening we have evidence for, in my opinion. Colon cancer is a bitch. But more commonly, people have bloody stools because they have either hemorrhoids that are bleeding or because they have an anal fissure after straining on a hard bowel movement. Do you know what a hemorrhoid is? I didn’t, until I was well into medical school. Everyone has them. They’re venous columns that surround the rectum and anus. Internal ones can bleed; external ones can itch. Most people will get them eventually. Be kind about them.

Everyone is going to have trouble peeing if they live long enough. Men can’t start, women can’t stop. Because people with prostates will often have benign enlargement of the prostate–it’s not cancer, but it gets bigger–and the urethra, the tube that lets urine leave the bladder, goes through the prostate. Bigger prostate = compressed tube, less flow. Meanwhile, people with uteruses have much shorter urethras, which means that when we lose that beautiful collagen and elastic, we also lose it in the two sphincters that help us keep from leaking urine, and so we leak urine. Especially when something triggers an increase in intra-abdominal pressure, like a sneeze or a cough or a laugh.

All these things people are taught to be ashamed of and embarrassed about–they are so common. They’re normal parts of having a human body and doing the things one does with a human body. Poop trouble? Welcome to the club! People have been writing about their cures for constipation for as long as written language has existed. Listen, you are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone. And that means that when someone else has a gross problem, you must be kind to them, because that is going to be you. There will be a day when you have diarrhea, because viral gastroenteritis spreads like wildfire every winter. There will be a day when you cough a huge glob of mucus comes out, because mucus is a natural defense mechanism and kind of miraculous but also nasty. Every gross thing a body can do, yours is likely to do, if not now then later.

Be kind.

Most of the responses to this are about how gross bodily stuff shouldn’t be stigmatized, it shouldn’t be viewed as a moral failure, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it shouldn’t be covered up or lied about, especially since it can be very important information for health.

Which is indeed the important message here, so I’m glad there are so many responses like that!

But I do want to go back to the initial post saying that “grossness is a vital aspect of life” and “we cannot deny ourselves this”.

Maybe it’s just saying that our lives function a certain way right now and we aren’t currently able to change that. But a phrasing like “vital aspect of life” really sounds like it’s going beyond that. It sounds like it’s saying that if it was possible to live a life free of this gross stuff, that in itself would constitute some sort of impoverishment of experience.

And sure, maybe deep grossness (as opposed to just, like, finding the architectural style of someone’s house to be vaguely yucky according to your personal tastes or whatever) is something that some people would miss having in their lives if they somehow didn’t have it; maybe they actually would feel impoverished and would go seek out gross experiences, and I want them to be able to get what they want!

But not everyone would miss that. If it was possible to live without the gross aspects of life that are currently inescapable, that would be a great thing for some of us. I wouldn’t be losing any important part of who I am, if I had the choice to live without that gross stuff and I took it.


#…yeah to me the obvious reading of OP is ”escapist fiction is wrong‚ if you’re not disgusted by what you’re watching you #ought to get a different movie” #(I originally wrote ”reading” and ”book” there‚ but actually this is a much bigger issue with video because it’s harder to skim) #the stuff in the comments about the importance of having forewarning about aging is good‚ but… #…are they *sure* they’re actually agreeing with OP? #I’d be a lot more willing to reblog that comment if it weren’t attached to OP #originally I’d decided against it‚ but with this new addition I’m leaning towards #(I guess the main argument I can see for not reading OP that way is that #there’s a difference between saying *more* media should be gross and saying *all* media should be gross) #(but…what media environment are they living in such that the grossness levels are far too *low*?) #(*I* go upstairs in the afternoon and find Mom watching a movie about people dying horribly of hyper-Nipah‚ you know?) #((and that’s if I’m lucky and she doesn’t try to watch it in the living room over the speakers)) #(and honestly I’m still not 100% over the very visceral food-poisoning scene in Minority Report) #(people in movies are *constantly* yelling in each other’s faces‚ making out‚ getting covered in blood) #((sometimes all in the same scene!)) #(yeah‚ yeah‚ I know‚ something something pathogen-stress hypothesis) #–((it’s a different person‚ but I notice the aging-forewarning commenter casually mentions viral gastroenteritis as ”a day”)) #((which‚ uh))– #(but god‚ please‚ don’t make *me* live at *your* setpoint) #tag rambles #is the blue I see the same as the blue you see #aging cw #unsanitary cw #discourse cw #medical cw

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