I wrote the first version of this piece in 2014. It was called Yes, Drinking Makes You Ugly, because back then I used words like "ugly" and "fat" to describe myself. I don't do that anymore. (I just think it accidentally and quietly, like all progressive women.)
Back then, I also didn't see the world as I see it now - I didn't realize things like how much a woman's value was confused with her attractiveness, submissiveness, and likeability. I hadn't yet witnessed Hilary running for President of the United States and the amount of scrutiny she would receive for her outfits over her policy. I would never write a post about being unattractive today.
Except, I am.
Because there is this other part of me, and it's screaming about a bajillion dollar industry that tells women that they need to slather themselves with La Mer, work out with Tracy Anderson, obliterate their FUPAs, eat all the kale, brew their own kombucha, map their genome, juice cleanse on the reg, burpee in line at the Target, and be able to drink (copious amounts of) booze. There is a very big part of me that is sick of seeing us run to sites like Goop and Well + Good which tell us that we need to use colonics, steam our vaginas, drink clay, shun gluten/dairy/nightshades/tap water/sugar, eat all 1,092 superfoods in every single meal, make our own (everything), and then incorporate booze into the narrative as if it's a chia seed. It is a little insulting/baffling/nauseating to endure an article on the importance of non-toxic eyeliners when it's next to a post about collagen-spiked martinis. Becuase nothing will take you down faster than a fucking toxic eyeliner, and drinking ethanol with a shot of collagen is basically snorting the fountain of youth.
I know this feels like staggering incoherent word vomit but stick with me here. What I am saying is: Just because we (I) are (am) woke to why think we are supposed to be thin and pretty and ageless (the patriarchy), doesn't mean we (I) don't aspire to it still. I am still, unfortunately, motivated by vanity. And while I am spelunking into the depths of what Gwyneth is advising me to do, I'd like her to just ONCE bring up the fact that alcohol might be part of the problem of us looking like total shit, not some sweet little accomplice in the solution.
I'd like someone in the wellness industry to muster the vagina to tell the truth about alcohol, and how it works against everything else they are telling us to do, instead of what they currently do, which is tell us how to find the best organic varieties of wine, make low-calorie superfood-tinis, and build a non-toxic bar cart for our air-filtered hermetically-sealed living rooms. I'd like someone on one of those websites to just get out with it already and tell us that it is making us look like shit.
But they won't, at least not yet. So I will.
Yes, my queens - alcohol is making us look like shit. And also, we're all beautiful no matter what, and looks don't matter. But also, it's making us look like shit.
It's also tragically unhealthy for us - booze is, after all, ethanol. You might be guffawing right now, perhaps recalling an article about moderate red wine consumption and health. First, most of those studies have been debunked. Second, do you drink moderately (or even know what the guidelines for moderate are?) Third, are you really drinking to ward off the effects of cardiovascular disease?
Alcohol is a neurotoxin, a drug. And consuming it undermines your attempts at health and beauty in countless ways. Some of these things are apparent - how does your breath smell on a hungover Saturday morning, how do your rings fit after a night out, how red is your face the next day or the night of, how bad are those circles? Other effects are sneaky, revealing themselves only over time: Beer gut, rosacea, sallow skin, bloat.
Maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal if we weren't, like, using laser beams to resurface our faces and paying $600 a month to Soul Cycle. BUT WE ARE. We're shunning gluten, dairy, tap water, pesticides, antibiotics, sugar, aluminum, fluoride and conventional medicine. We are pumping coffee into our anuses, steaming our vaginas (sorry I'm really obsessed with the vaginal steaming thing), dropping $12 on juices. We are swallowing the compressed oil of fish carcasses, collagen, charcoal, algae, and clay. We use non-toxic cleaning agents and that awful Tom's of Maine. We no-poo and oil pull and grow out our pit hair. We are natural and clean and we're on a mission to defy the aging process.
And then there is booze, and it's booze, and don't fuck with our booze. Our wine and our cocktails are where our madness for wellness ends - so much so that we have begun incorporating it into our wellness - just google "Wine Yoga" and see for yourself.
Years ago I sent a text to my girlfriend (and when I mean years ago, I mean on my Razr) "I think alcohol is making me fat." She sent a picture back of Paris Hilton and said, "Then how come Paris isn't." (If you're younger, Paris Hilton was like, a thing).
I thought, duh, Paris. I drank a bottle of pinot that night, and the next morning woke up red-faced and bloated, so I ran for an hour on the treadmill. Looking in the mirror on my way to work that morning, I did not look like Paris Hilton, because treadmills don't undo bottles of wine and self-disgust.
I thought about this when years later, then sober, I came across a post in Pop Sugar, What It Takes To Burn Off Your Happy Hour, a guide in pictures of the calorie counts of some of the more popular drinks with the length of time needed to burn the calories. When I wanted to believe it, it made sense that workouts negated alcohol's effect, which was only caloric on some level. On this side of things I know there are no amount of yoga classes that will ever undo what drinking does to us because what drinking does to us is akin to what taking any drug regularly (and moderately) does to us: it alters our entire ecosystem.
The short list of what it does goes something like this: Alcohol causes inflammation (which leads to myriad other health issues), dehydrates, disrupts our blood sugar balance (which makes us mood swing, binge eat, get the shakes, disrupts sleep), gunks up our liver (which means our body can't detox and also means we have trouble losing weight - toxins live in fat cells), interferes with the metabolism of nutrients (absorption), replaces healthy calories (malnutrition), changes our pH balance (causing body odor), leads to loss of sleep (which leads to a host of other things that make us look like shit), disrupts the endocrine/glandular system (as in, adrenals/energy, sex hormones/periods/sex drive, sleep cycle), accelerates the aging process, worsens skin issues (like acne), causes bloating, brittles hair, causes memory loss, shrinks gray matter, induces or worsens depressive states, causes broken capillaries/rosacea, leads to other unhealthy and/or risky behavior (like poor food choices, unprotected sex, smoking), is directly linked to certain cancers (like breast cancer). There's also that whole other part about how it addicts us, kills 1 in 10 of us, robs us of years of our lives, our dignity, our freedom, and on and on. But that's not what this piece is about.
My mom is on weight watchers. We talk about things, like her ass size. She's 72 and so I ask "Mom, do you think you'll ever not give a shit?" and I ask this hopefully. She always says something like "Maybe one day, but not yet." I believe we are raising a different generation of girls, and I like to think that when I'm 72 I'll not give fucks about these kinds of things. But I'm not there yet. I am still vain, vain, vain. So are most of us - we spend $3 trillion annually on wellness. So maybe while we're still here, fighting the patriarchy on our stationary bikes, we can also wake up to the idea that maybe Gwyneth Paltrow is wrong, that maybe coffee colonics aren't the new coffee colonics, but rather, not ingesting ethanol is.