Let's not waste time. This weekend PSA is so painfully real and happens all too often, so I feel VERY strongly about it.
So here it is: Don't diet on the days leading up to a date. Drinking, dieting and dating is a terrible idea.
Look, if you're one of those amazing girl creatures who has an authentically ~positive relationship~ with her body and would never THINK to diet before a date or skip a meal because she wanted to feel prettier and who has never tugged at her flesh in the mirror repeating, "I hate myself. I hate myself. I hate myself," then please feel free to click out of this article. It will probably irritate you.
For the record, I'm very happy girls like you exist. But I'm not a girl like you, even though I've spent thousands of dollars in therapy and yoga to emulate your wellness. I guess I'm just damaged goods or something.
However, I know I'm not alone. I happen to know a lot of girls who do (or have done) this kind of destructive shit, too. And it always ends in a total, epic, shame-spiraling disaster.
Now, kittens, the time has come to close your eyes. It's (horror) story time.
A million years ago (OK, maybe like five), I was going to go on a date with a girl I was super excited about. I had been lusting after her from afar for years. When I was still closeted, I had sex dreams about her.
But finally, I was an out-and-proud lez, and eventually, I told a friend, who told a friend, who told her, that I was, uh, "interested."
And apparently, she was down for a date!
My little gay boy compatriot Max* came rushing up to me during Drag Queen Bingo one night.
"She says you're her type!" he gasped.
My heart fluttered. "Really?"
"Yes. She's going to text you."
I felt sick with excitement. "That's cool," I said, puffing on casually on my ciggie. (Never let them see you sweat, girls.)
Two nights later, Lana* sent me a text. "Hey, Zara. It's Lana. Do you want to grab a drink after work Tuesday?"
Bile rose up in my throat. I quickly called my best friend Ruba and screamed, "WHAT THE HELL DO I TEXT HER BACK? I WANT TO SEEM CASUAL, BUT ALSO INTO IT... BUT CASUAL... BUT INTO IT."
Ruba and I agonized over this until we finally crafted the perfectly calculated, seemingly "effortless" text to send to Lana.
"This is sort of like 'beach waves' isn't it?" I said to Ruba as I sent the message.
"What do you mean 'beach waves'?"
"Like, when you style your hair into beach-y waves. You spend two hours trying to make it look like you just stepped off a beach on a windy day. So, you spend twice as long trying to make your hair look effortless and messy than you do when you try to make it look styled and sleek."
"Oh yeah," Ruba agreed. "Beach waves."
Anyway, Tuesday night — the night of my date with Lana — was only four days away. That was nothing!
So I did what I always do when I'm nervous: I went to take a good look at myself in my bathroom mirror and engaged in what my shrinks call "negative self-talk."
"You're so hideous. Look at your skin; it's full of zits. Massive, open pores. How are you going to clear your goddamn skin up in time for this date?" my negative self said to me.
"I can't," I whimpered back.
"Well, you know what you can do?"
"You might not be able to clear up your skin by Tuesday, but you can TOTALLY lose weight by Tuesday. You're looking a little thick."
I pinched the flesh on my upper arm. "I am?"
"Yes. It's OK, though. Just be really strict for the next few days, so you can look good for this date with Lana."
"Oh, God. You're right. I'll only eat fruits and vegetables for the next four days! And I'll go running, too." I promised.
"Maybe even throw in some hot yoga? That will get rid of your water weight."
"Good idea." I nodded at my negative self in the mirror.
Look, I don't have the best track record when it comes to self-control, but when I'm determined to do something, I do it full force, babe.
So for the next four days, I practically starved myself. At work, I would watch my co-workers gorge on pizza and donuts, my mouth watering as I sadly ate my lonely carrot sticks.
Finally, Tuesday came around. I slipped on my deliciously slutty, Courtney Love-looking slip dress, fishnet stockings, patent leather Doc Martin boots and stared at my reflection. I ran my hands across my stomach — I had definitely lost some weight.
"Well done." My destructive negative-self was pleased.
I looked at my phone. It was 9:00 pm, and I was set to meet Lana at 11:00 pm.
Confession: I'm one of those idiots who completely loses her personality when she's attracted to someone.
I'm a sassy, talkative bitch most of the time. But when I find you physically beautiful, I completely shut down. I forget words. I'm not exciting. I do weird things, like let out horrible tinkles of hysterical laughter at things that aren't even remotely funny.
But sometimes, I believed alcohol would help.
"I'll just have a personality drink!" I thought to myself as I poured a giant glass of white wine before my date.
And having no food to hold the wine, I felt tipsy off half a glass. I giggled to myself as I slid into a taxi to meet Lana downtown.
The next morning, I woke up with my heart pounding outside of my chest and a head full of steel nails. I struggled to open up my eyes, as they felt like they were sealed shut.
Literally, my lashes were stuck together from gobs of sticky mascara, I had to peel them open with my fingers.
"OH GOD!" I shrieked.
I had a hazy memory of Lana texting me that she was going to be a little late and another hazy memory of ordering a glass of wine and stumbling into the bathroom to apply lipstick.
Then, I had a traumatic, ugly, vile flashback: I remembered being so wasted, I was holding on to Lana's jean pockets. Then, my memories went right to black.
Yup, that's right. I had a total blackout on my dream date. I couldn't remember a damn thing.
After hours and hours of beating myself up, I finally mustered up the courage to call Lana.
"I'm so sorry" was all I could say.
"Yeah, it's OK. I just hope you're OK. You were really bombed."
"I know. I'm sorry. I didn't eat a lot that day. This doesn't usually happen," I lied. I had blacked out from not eating more times than I could ever count. It always ended horribly.
But this was the worst. I had totally blown it with someone I had liked because I had over-dieted and drank too much booze. My radical methods of achieving perfection had backfired once again.
That sleepless night, I really thought about my life. It seemed I was always doing things like this — trying too hard to be thin, trying too hard to be liked and trying too hard to be pretty.
In turn, I was destroying myself and scaring away the healthy things I so desperately wanted.
And Lana was a healthy person. That's why I liked her. That's why I wanted to look good for her and impress her to begin with.
But healthy people aren't drawn to unstable people who starve themselves and black out on first dates.
Some people are drawn to that, like the people I had been attracting before. But those people were toxic energy vampires who got off on rescuing helpless shits like me.
Two days later, I called Lana again. "Look, I'm so sorry. That was a huge wake-up call. Can I please have a do over?"
Lana hesitantly agreed. And this time, I didn't listen to my negative-self talk. This time, I told her to shut the fuck up because her advice wasn't helping — it was hurting me.
So, I ate a solid meal before our date and only had one drink over the course of five hours.
Yes, I was awkward because I'm an awkward person when I'm sober, and yes, I felt bloated because I always feel bloated when I eat. But I was aware of everything that was going on.
I didn't realize that not only was booze putting a hazy filter over my feelings, but starvation was, too. When you're hungry, you have a desperation about you. And you can't tell what you're ravenous for — another person or a cheeseburger.
And just so you know, Lana and I ended up dating for, like, two years. Though, we wouldn't have ever had a relationship had she not been so kind.
But I don't want you to put yourself in that position.
So eat, girl. Not only do you need to eat so you won't make a fool of yourself on the date, but you also need to eat to be safe.
My blackout that night with Lana was so bad, who knows what could've (or DID) happen to me? In fact, I think a lot of terrifying things have happened to me in my life as a result of not eating and drinking too much and then blacking out.
Sometimes, I get weird nightmares of hands grabbing at me and strange flashes of being pulled into cars, and I don't know if they're a figment of my imagination or if they're traumatic memories my subconscious is still tortured by.
But I'll never know, which is the most terrifying part.
And all of this is a result of me DIETING (or shall I say "starving myself") so I could be prettier.
Really, I'm not even pretty when I'm "dieting." You can't be pretty when you're not giving your body what it needs. And when you're not giving your body what it needs, your body doesn't give your brain what it needs.
And our brain is really the most beautiful part of ourselves. Our thoughts, our feelings, our perspectives on the world — they all come from our brains.
Don't screw with your brain. It's too stunning to starve away.
So if you're getting ready for your date tonight, and you skipped dinner in an attempt to feel pretty, I want you to imagine me standing in your doorway.
I'm holding up a gorgeous, silver platter from somewhere really bougie, like Tiffany's. On it is a gorgeous plate full of beautifully grilled vegetables, wild rice and sweet potatoes. It's healthy, but it's hearty, like us, baby!
"Eat this before you go out, honey," I say to you.
You take the plate from steady hands. You notice how happy and healthy I look. "I've been eating fucking MEALS!" I say to you, reading your mind.
You eat the meal, and you feel fabulous. You feel ready for your date.
You took care of yourself, and when you take care of yourself, you radiate a really different, attractive energy. It's not needy. It's not desperate. It's balanced, self-aware and independent, and those are all qualities that draw in positive things and people.
And if you feel like you still want to skip the meal, message me. Your internet lesbian big sister won't let you go on that date without eating. Promise.