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Monday, July 18, 2011

Discussion Post: "Oh crap, I shit my pants..."

This is just a really random post that was written at a very early time in the morning, when I was sleep deprived and completely jet lagged and totally loopy, so it's probably not the most educated discussion post in the world. But, I digress...

I know, I know, a weird title, but it's relevant, I promise! This discussion post is about realism in YA, and what happens to normal human body functions with the characters. I don't know why, but I always notice that when characters are on the run from the big bad villain, and they're stuck living in basements and the forests or whatever, things like the need to use the bathroom are never mentioned. YA characters seem to be able to go days, even weeks, without peeing or crapping! It's amazing! The girls also seem to have the miraculous ability to NEVER GET THEIR PERIODS, which I am highly jealous of. Can I please live in this world?

See? Even Hermoine gotta pee.

I mean, I guess it would be awkward to mention that too much. And how awkward is it to think of your favorite YA hottie having to go take a crap? (Everyone now, please imagine Jace on the toilet. See? Awkward.) But at least once, right? Sometimes an entire novel could go by where the main characters are on the run and stuck camping out in weird places, and not one mention of ever having to use the bathroom comes up.  I always end up thinking, "Well, maybe they're a bit irregular."

The one series that I can think of off the top of my head where the main character actually does have normal body functions is the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. The main character, Dru, is on the run a lot and being attacked by demons and stuff, and usually after a big scare or monster attack, the first thing she thinks is that she has to pee. I always notice for some reason.

I guess there wasn't really much significance to this post other than to ramble about characters in books peeing and stuff... But still! Share your thoughts! What do you think of YA characters and normal body functions?? Should there be more? Less? None at all? Let me know!


  1. Haha great post - I noticed this in the last Hunger Games book, there was like five characters holed up in a basebent for over a day and they never mentioned going to the bathroom.
    I don't think it's limited to YA though. It's fiction in general - including movies and TV shows! Bodily functions aren't the same in fictionland apparently lol.

  2. Haha, I've noticed this as well! I just finished reading Graceling, and the main character, Katsa, is on the run for months out in the mountains, and she never has to go...

    I read book 1 and 2 of the books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon, where the main character Maerad actually does get her period, and she mentions it a few times during her travels. Even though I usually find announcing your period kinda gross, I actually found it refreshing that Croggon wrote about it, because it's so rare to find that in books.

    But I do u derstand why it's not mentioned though :p like you said, imagine Jace. But I would like to live in a world of no periods ;)

  3. If you ever find the period-free world, TAKE ME WITH YOU!!! Gosh, that would be heavenly.
    But seriously, YA characters, and especially Paranormal Romance YA character are just too cool to have bodily functions. And all that adrenaline probably helps, makes for the flight or fight instinct, not pee or poop ;)
    It would however be more realistic like you mentioned, as if they were real people instead of uber-cool beings. I mean, all the girls (and some guys) I know have to use the toilet at inopportune moments. If I'd been stuck in a basement all day with 5 others, I'd be peeing all day. Probably.

  4. You so nailed it! I don't mind the peeing or pooping so much but the periods always gets to me.
    I don't know about you but I definitely change my mood and eating while surfing the crimson wave, I think that showcasing this in books, esp YA, would be beneficial... just a gateway to something ladies can all relate too. But the again maybe there lies the secret, we use these books as a kinda fantasy world where the under dog wins and the weird girl ends up with Mr. Perfect. It's called fiction and fantasy for a reason. lol.

  5. I always wondered that too! Epsically the period stuff. Like in the Deathly Hallows Pt.1 they're living in the forest for what seems like months and did Hermione even have tampons in her bag of everything? I just always wonder!

  6. I always wonder about that too. No one ever gets their periods…it drives me crazy. I feel like the only time people go to the bathroom in YA is to hide or gossip…not go to the bathroom! And the leading guys must have to go sometime too!

    Thanks for posting this!!!! I say we all go find this world where periods don't exsit!!

  7. I think bodily functions are just left out because they really don't have much to do with the actual story. You just have to assume that when your not looking, the characters are doing their thing. Like you don't need to read that the protagonist brushes their teeth every night and day, you kind of just know that they do that, because if they didn't that'd be unusual and pointed out by the writer. So saying that a character has to pee, I don't know, to me that seems pointless. Bring on the story, leave the bathroom for the real world (where I also pretend it doesn't exist. Honestly, I don't know about anyone else, but I like to act like I don't use the bathroom. Lol.)

  8. I had a conversation about this with friends before. We thought maybe periods often get left out because boys are pretty much terrified of menstruation, like if they see it or hear about it they're going to catch it or something. But I've read several books that include menstruation. Here are some that come to mind right away: Fire by Kristin Cashore, Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, Alanna by Tamora Pierce, And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

  9. This is a long one. :)

    @Belle, You're right! It isn't just limited to YA, it's usually every form of fiction. In movies, though, it's not as bad. I honestly think that when authors or screenwriters are writing, their just focusing on the plot and making what needs to happen, happen. But then what happens to realism? I'm not saying they gotta pee every 2 seconds, but come on.

    @Caroline, a world with no periods would be the best thing ever. Seriously.

    @Daisy, It's true! It's like Crystal said, what the hell did Hermoine do about her period? Or any other literary girl that's stuck camping out in a weird place. I mean, i don't need to know every single time she freaking gets her period, but if you're spending months on the run in a forest, there's bound to be a mishap of some kind.

    @Lacey, that's true too. I think I've read maybe 2 or 3 books where the main character's mood changed because she has her period. Let's be honest, almost every girl on the freaking planet feels pissy when she gets her period. And with good reason!

    @Crystal, Actually, concerning Harry Potter, I always wondered if they even HAD such a thing as tampons or pads. I mean, they didn't know what telephones were, lol. What if they had some magic spell that took care of that whole little period problem? Gosh, that would be fantastic.

    @Katie, Another very true thing! Bathrooms are usually just a place to cry or gossip. Or overhear gossip. No bodily functions going on in there.

    @Yanely, I get what you're saying, and it's true too. But at the same time, I've read novels where the main characters DO have those bodily functions, and it doesn't detract anything from the story at all. In fact, I honestly think it makes me like main characters more. It's a sign of humanity, you know? Like Daisy said, a sign that they're not some uber-coll supreme beings.

    @Jenny, Yeah, boys are pretty terrified of periods. It's actually hilarious. I knew a boy that would do whatever you wanted if you just told him you were on your period, ha! I've read a few that mention periods. In fact, the most notable one is Undone by Brooke Taylor, where at the end, she calls up her boyfriend and asks him to go buy her tampons as like the "ultimate test". The cutest part is that he actually DOES go buy them. Does anyone else think that's totally adorable? Lol.

  10. I think there's a fine line. I know I've read some books where the girl's period is mentioned, or they talk about finding a place to go to the bathroom is difficult, or something like that, and it makes sense. I think a lot of it depends on the writing style. Is it more gritty or realistic? Then I would probably expect those details to be there. But some writing styles just aren't that detailed, and I think it works perfectly fine. I think you can assume that those things happen behind the scenes, just like you can assume the character goes to sleep at night (unless the plot says something differently) without having to be told about it for every day.

  11. I don't think "Twilight" would have been quite the same if Edward had gotten a fang-on for a few days out of every month. I can see why Meyer avoided that one. It irked me that she suddenly realised she was "late" and was carrying around Tampax in "Breaking Dawn" though. If you're going to hush up the awkwardness, at least be consistent!

  12. Whenever a book mentions anything to do with the bathroom or normal bodily functions I always feel a little vindicated.

    Off the top of my head the only book I know that mentions both a period and going to the bathroom even if only briefly is The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. With shows and movies I think that it is only really mentioned in comedies.

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