Now at heart, I am very pragmatic, and while our heroes and heroines are off slaying dragons or bringing down a corrupt tyrannical government, I’m the one sitting there going, “But you haven’t showered in a month and now you’re embracing? EURGH!”
Now, it’s not like I want graphic explanations of any of my points below, thank you very much, but I like it when authors at least make reference to them, so that I know they’ve actually thought about it, instead of just *hand-wavey magic* it away. (Also, this list can apply to fantasy as well, not just dystopias! But it made the title clumsy.)
Hygiene This is probably one of the most referred to out of the five aspects listed here, with our characters taking a splash in some conveniently situated pond. But my issue is that firstly, cold water itself is unlikely to clean you up much – warm water and some kind of detergent is what actually removes grime and kills germs – and secondly, I hope y’all aren’t going to drink out of that stream afterwards because you’ve just polluted it and CHOLERA TYPHOID E-COLI ETC. (See point #4). Also, sexy times with crush and neither of you have washed in a while? *shudders*
Bathroom Again, this is not something we want in detail – no scat-erotica for me, thanks, but it always concerns me when our characters are doing some great outdoor trek. Firstly, if you’re in some kind of infested jungle, you can’t go far, and I can’t think of anything more embarrassing than having to go in front of my love interest. Also, what if you’re out in the desert and there’s no convenient bush to hide behind? What are you wiping with?! Is it weird that I’ve given this so much thought? Probably! But there’s a reason I’ve never gone camping, and that is because I CANNOT DO WITHOUT MODERN PLUMBING.
Periods See issues #1 and #2. What are you using? No one ever seems to pack tampons when they grab the emergency getaway bag. And rags are really unhygienic unless you can wash and dry them properly each day. Have modern dystopias just managed to make a magic period-disappearing injection with no side-effects? Or are our female MCs just suffering in silence?
Sickness Everyone always seems to largely be in perfect health. No one picks up a chest cold from sleeping in wet clothes after heroically plunging into icy waves to escape the rampaging hordes or gets a stomach upset after eating food that’s been kept in your backpack for who knows how long. Maybe by the year 3104 we’ve all evolved uber-strong, infallible immune systems.
Birth Control Again, maybe the teens of the future have evolved reproductive systems that only activate upon command. Else there seem to be a lot of shenanigans going on with no mention of baby-preventing devices. Especially when you’re out in the wilderness and you’ve abandoned civilisation along with all its trappings. And don’t even think of using the condom supplies you found in a surviving warehouse from the pre-apocalyptic days – that shit’s expired, y’all. (Somehow point #1 never seems to deter amorous couples.)
+Bonus: Hair How are the dudes not all walking around with extreme beards? Or are y’all doing old-school shaving with a straight blade? Because that sounds dangerous. Ladies, I assume you’re letting your leg hair grow wild and free, right? It’s not really mentioned in books either way, but as many people have mentioned, there’s nary a pit hair in sight in tv programmes that depict fantasy/dystopian scenarios. Eyebrows are perfectly groomed, and dudes have artistic stubble. I AM SUSPICIOUS.
Anyway, maybe I’m overthinking things. But when I imagine myself in the place of these characters and what I would do, these concerns spring to mind! What are some of the other practical things I’ve missed that authors seem to ignore?