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Sure, You’re Staying Hydrated, But Are You Pissmaxxing?

As with most ‘-maxxing’ terms lifted from incel culture, pissmaxxing has taken on a meaning entirely its own. But are people actually optimizing their pee, or is all just a beautiful meme?

We belong to a culture that encourages hydration. Gigantic water bottles that carry a day’s worth of water have become a fashion accessory, and the imperative to “drink water” has become a catchall curative for ailments ranging from fatigue to cancer. But drinking a lot of water isn’t just about staying healthy — it’s about taking bodily performance to its extreme. It’s about pissmaxxing. 

Pissmaxxing is about being as hydrated as possible. It’s measured both by how often you pee, and the clarity of said pee. You want to be going as often as possible, and it should be clear and colorless. If it’s gold or yellow, you need to drink more water, bro. 

As a practice, pissmaxxing isn’t exactly “real” — there aren’t legions of pissmaxxers earnestly stressing about the hue of their pee. For the most part, it’s just a niche micro-meme occasionally referenced by very-online Twitter and Instagram figures like Tom Tuna, who began citing the term in summer 2021 and later dissected it in an episode of the podcast Vicious Circle. “Is pissmaxxing a thing that I’m just not in the know about, or are you just fucking creating something from nothing?” asked host Matthew Daniel Siskin. 

“I just made it up. My friends and I made it up as a joke,” says Tuna. He describes biking around Miami, and drinking a ton of water. “We would use it as a metric for hydration. Every time we’d have to stop to go to the bathroom, we’d say we’re pissmaxxing.”

But in a sense, it’s entirely real, too — any of us who are obsessed with drinking water all the time are pissmaxxing, whether we know it or not. More than that, Tuna isn’t the first person to come up with pissmaxxing. Incels first began using the term on their forums, often with different meanings. In June 2020, for example, users of discussed pissmaxxing as the act of using a women’s restroom and intentionally peeing all over the floor. And in 2018, people on complained of having to pee too many times in the night, and that they were sick of pissmaxxing. 

As with “Chad” and other incel-adjacent terms, though, the “-maxxing” suffix has taken on an entirely new cultural meaning. Whether we’re committed to it in the same way incels or femcels might be to “looksmaxxing” — the original -maxxing used to describe the practice of trying to become more physically attractive — we’ve likely all -maxxed something, at some point. Not getting enough sleep? You’re tiredmaxxing. Haven’t left your apartment or responded to anyone’s texts in a week? You’re hermitmaxxing. 

Like the “hellmaxxing” trend of the fall, where people feared teens were attempting to raise hell on Earth via TikTok, pissmaxxing is essentially a self-fulfilling meme. Nobody was actually hellmaxxing until people started talking about it like it was real, and then people began claiming to hellmaxx ironically. Despite the minor uses of pissmaxxing among incels and incel-adjacent bodybuilders, pissmaxxing has never been all that literal. But now that the word is creeping into the lexicon, it inevitably will be real, at least among some of us. 

What better way to manage the tedium of existing than turning it into some hyper-online, gamified extreme?