Flicking through a magazine the other day, I came across a feature entitled, ‘10 Ways to Disguise a Hangover’. The subtitle read as follows; ‘One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…from hiccup to beauty queen get-up the morning after the night before’. The content consisted of a number of beauty products, ranging from Christian Dior Capture Totale Le Serum Yeux (£77 if you’re interested), Kerastase Chronologiste Perfume Oil (£39), Foreo IRIS Illuminating Eye Massager (£99) and Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Compact (at a rather more affordable £20) – a grand total of £235 for a bunch of lotions and potions that will allegedly diminish the physical side effects of over drinking.
Hmm. A few things struck me about this article (irresponsible, lazy journalism, predictable to name a few), but the overriding thought I had after glancing through it was this; we are routinely fed one great big fu**er of a lie when it comes to drinking, and specifically, when it comes to excessive drinking.
Alcohol is a toxin. And if you are downing so much of the stuff that you’re hitting the deck (as per the subtitle of the aforementioned article) then you’re really damaging yourself. And yet, we (as a society) seem to have this attitude towards booze that is so hypocritical, ethereal and hard to pin down. It’s not OK to be a drunk – you know that, right? Drunks are bad. But! It’s really fine to drink lots of tequila at a New Year’s Eve gig, fall over, and suffer an almighty hangover the following day…just so long as you disguise the fact with a load of high end products. Confusing, no? Just where is the line drawn?
If I saw a grown adult at a party (NYE or not) drink so much that she fell to the ground, I would find that pretty upsetting. It would remind me of myself a few years ago, when I would drink to excess because I didn’t like myself much and had no confidence in social situations. I would conclude that this person was either a) out of control when it came to drinking and had a dependency upon booze, or b) really depressed about something and was deliberately getting hammered because she wanted to block it all out. Either way, I wouldn’t be laughing.
Then again, if everyone stuck to the recommended guidelines and consumed just one or two drinks at any one sitting, there would be no cause for an article such as this to be written, one that’s basically flogging a load of expensive beauty products and fills a couple of pages of a magazine.
The images on the pages depict sexy, slim and glamorous women, sipping Prosecco in their beautiful designer clothes. They don’t portray a person that represents me as a drinker, staggering about in a pub, scanning the room for half-finished drinks that people have left, slightly overweight due to all those booze calories, flushed skin and eyes that reveal a haunted, unhappy soul hiding beneath the veneer of false, alcohol-induced confidence. No, the women in the magazine are in control, and confident, and stylish. So where, then, are the ones who are collapsing after too much tequila, who might be in need of all those lovely magic potions the next day?
These sorts of articles are, to employ the use of a technical word, crap. They sell a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. They make us think we can be something that is a fantasy – the heavy drinker who cares not; who does not invite the criticism or judgment from those around her; who doesn’t let loved ones down repeatedly because of her alcohol dependency; who doesn’t look like shit because she drinks too much and her poor liver is crying out for a rest.
Approach these features with caution – and, as we venture forwards into a new year, remember that most of the cultural messages regarding alcohol that we’re subjected to are motivated by money, one way or another.