When you’re on the toilet for the hundredth time with a growling stomach, it can feel like you’re the only person on the planet dealing with IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. Surely no one else has had to memorize the location of every public bathroom within a 10-block radius, right? But then you stumble upon the “hot girls have IBS” trend on TikTok, and suddenly it becomes clear that the condition is ORDER more common than you might think.
With over 14 million views, the hashtag #hotgirlshaveibs is filled with super candid videos posted by people huffing and puffing and making countless trips to the bathroom throughout the day and night. For centuries, IBS has been one of those “heavy” personal topics that no one wanted to talk about, when in reality millions of people have IBS, so there’s no need to stay quiet in your own personal bath of shame.
The idea to normalize IBS—and even make it somewhat #relatable—started with Katie Wilson, CEO and co-founder of gut health brand BelliWelli, who recently put up a huge “Hot Girls Have IBS” billboard. “People really appreciate a forum to feel seen and heard about their personal gut issues,” Wilson says of the trend. “So much of managing gut issues is not feeling alone. Having a community makes all the difference.” Read more on the social media movement.
Hot girls have IBS
One person who has been posting under the hashtag #hotgirlshaveibs is Nadya Okamoto, the co-founder and CEO of the August brand, who says she’s been open about her IBS and constipation issues on social media for a while.
“Part of the reason I started posting was because I guess I was looking to feel less alone about my gut issues, and as shown by the current trend, it’s a lot more common than I thought,” Okamoto tells Bustle. By sharing brutally honest videos about her IBS symptoms — which can include gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea — Okamoto began to reframe what the condition means to herself.
“It was something my family always teased me about and something a lot of my friends laughed about too,” she says. “Of course you laugh, because it’s funny to talk about poo. But it’s also very painful and frustrating not being able to have a bowel movement for weeks on end, and it can be a really isolating feeling when everyone else around you seems to have perfectly good bowel movements.”
Thanks to the idea that hot girls have IBS, hundreds of thousands more are starting to come true, true honest for how long they spend on the porcelain throne. Or how a sip of coffee sends them running to the bathroom.
“I love that this is a conversation that’s happening online now, not only because it makes people experiencing IBS feel less alone, but it also opens up conversations to trade suggestions and solutions,” says Okamoto. Read through the reviews and you’ll likely learn about different ways to treat IBS, plus plenty of tips for coping with some of its more bothersome symptoms.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that what works for one person on TikTok may not work for you. “IBS covers so many different symptoms and can be caused by so many different things, so listen, but also stay focused on your bodily symptoms and your journey,” adds Okamoto. In fact, she recommends seeking advice from your doctor, above all else. “For so long I would feel embarrassed to even bring up my constipation with my doctor, when in reality I should have talked to them first,” she says.
While the cause of IBS is not well understood and is often used as an “umbrella term” for a wide range of symptoms, there are many options when it comes to treatment.
Whether you choose to make a trip to the doctor or just want to feel less alone, the idea that “hot girls have IBS” really does offer a sense of solidarity. And hey, if your IBS inspires you to join the hot girl trend, you might as well share your story—the funnier and more honest, the better.