You used to be fun, they say. You used to make us titter with your escapist jaunts into the lighter side of life. What happened, a few restless readers have asked, to the ribald soccer-mom confessions and largely superficial rants about bass players and fallopian tubes?
Trump happened, you guys. He golden showered all over the fun.
I’m sorry if I’ve been weighing you down with ponderous political tirades. Now more than ever, we all need a moment’s respite from the political onslaught. And I want to offer you lighter fare; I do. But I’m just … heavier than I used to be.
See, I’ve put on a few pounds since Election Night from stress eating. And, okay, stress drinking. My husband deemed my new squishiness “Trump Plump,” and purely because I enjoy a good rhyme and a snappy hashtag, he is still among us. But I’m not alone in my plight. Though Lena Dunham claims election despondence killed her appetite and left her svelte, my friends and I have inhaled every last crumb of Lena’s untouched food and then some.
“Trump is going to be good for the economy,” said my friend Michal, “because the entire country is going to need to buy new pants.”
In a Winq poll of 2,500 millennials, 63 percent said they’d gained weight since the election. And why wouldn’t they? Our country suddenly feels terrifyingly unfamiliar and unstable. Our deeply cherished values are thwarted and even derided daily. We feel unsafe. We feel uncertain. We’re unsure if we should even have hope. But … a brownie couldn’t hurt.
“It’s unconscious, fearful grabbing of the nearest carb,” says my pal Kirsten. “I’ve caught myself digging through the kitchen cupboards at a crazy pace while listening to NPR. Bannon? … I need candy. The guy who wants to dismantle the EPA? … chips.”
One friend recently switched from wine to vodka tonics and went through four boxes of Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered marshmallows, a pound of Godiva, and untold chocolate-covered gummy bears in two months: She’s up eight pounds and a clothing size. I know a young woman who hates walking around in a world of men who think like our president does and “might be plotting a way to grab me by the … or rate me on a scale of 1 to 10. So I head to the place I know I won’t be judged: the pantry.”
My friends say they’re nervous eating. Mindless eating. Comfort eating. “The other day I ate a salad alone in a café while reading about the poop-storm-du-jour,” says Kelly. “I looked back to see that I’d eaten most of the paper liner that separated my food from its serving basket. I guess the new jiggle in my middle is actually restaurant supplies.”
My friend Stacie was so upset about the latest news when she picked her son up from school last week that they zoomed straight to a McDonald’s drive-through. But, Mom! the boy protested, We don’t eat that! You say it’s not food! “We got terrible burgers, oversalted fries, and Cokes, and I just sobbed and shoved all of it into my mouth,” she says. “Not proud of it, but that’s what happened.”
Science can explain this behavior. Dr. Adrienne Youdim, who was medical director at Cedars-Sinai Center of Weight Loss for nearly a decade, says that stress not only releases hunger-triggering hormones; it also releases hormones that make us crave high-fat foods and make it harder for us to notice when we’re full. Put that up against a psychotic Pennsylvania Avenue tweet and our asses become #TrumpRumps quicker ’n you can say “pizza is a complete breakfast.”
I guess the upside is that we’ve never been less concerned about our weight. (Who cares about losing pounds when we could lose the press?) They say it’s good to carbo-load before a marathon, and, ladies, we’ve got miles and miles of marching ahead of us. See you out there in your stretchy pants. I’ll bring the donuts.
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.