“I really liked the film but they should have kept set it in England like in the book instead of making an American version. What really bugged me is that Emily Blunt is way too beautiful to play an alcoholic!”
That’s an actual review on someone’s blog, written earlier in this year of the Lord 2018. I’m not going to rant about it or get all puffed up over it, I was just a little surprised to see it, that’s all. I’m going to assume that no one believes that only unattractive people develop alcoholism, but what they actually meant in this review is that she is too fresh faced. Is that it, you think? That it would have been more “believable” had they used a bit of make-up to create red spider veins across her nose and cheeks, made her eyes appear redder and added grease to her hair? Perhaps a few stains on her clothes too? I don’t think many people actually think that all alcoholics are the image of that stereotypical end stage alcoholic, i.e. the broken wreck who has lost their mind and been physically ravaged by the booze.
If I were 32 with my looks fairly intact, I may have taken greater exception to that line because then I would still have been able to point to myself as a reasonably nice looking, well put together and, absolutely, ten years ago I was definitely fresh faced too. Look at me, a good looking drunk! At 42, I don’t think I can. Whilst I don’t think you could necessarily pick me out of a line up of other 42-yearolds and identify me as the drunk, I can myself absolutely see the devastation alcohol was starting to leave not just inside me but on the surface too. Now that I’m sober, these things are of course on the mend, at least the bits that CAN mend: my eyes are brighter and I don’t look so puffy, nor does my skin have that unhealthy, dull, ruddy tint to it. I’m not, strictly speaking, FRESH FACED á la the teenagers in the Clearasil ads, but I am looking WAY better than I did pre-23/01/2018. And yes, I would have looked better than I do if I’d never drunk at all or smoked all those cigarettes. I’m not trying to beat myself up, but these are facts. Not saying I would have been a supermodel but I would have been a better me had alcohol never dragged me under. And let’s not forget the inside either.
So there are two sides to this statement about Blunt’s portrayal of an alcoholic, really. The first would be what I suspect the person who wrote the review absolutely knows anyway, i.e. that amongst alcoholics you find the same variety of people you do all over the planet – from the 1s to the 10s, all sizes, all colours, all sexualities, and so on ad infinitum. The second is that NO, you will not remain fresh faced if you continue to abuse alcohol. Sure, you’ll be able to hide it for a long time but eventually that pretty face of yours will begin to tell the real story. Well. You’ll in all likelihood age and fall apart much faster than you would if you didn’t put poison into your body, obviously. I look at my 67-yearold mother, for example. OK so she is a bit of an exception to the general rule of ageing because she is ridiculously beautiful and looks way younger than her years, and also I am the spit of my father, but if the rules are at all fair I should as her daughter have managed to steal some of those kick-ass genes, right? Truth is though, that her forehead is smoother than mine is and her skin has a MUCH healthier glow.
This may have been the case even if I’d never touched a drop of alcohol or smoked a single cigarette but I think we can all agree that the most likely answer is that no matter what my genes I have, I would have looked more fresh faced now had I taken care of myself in the same way my mother looks after herself. And correct: she never smoked and she VERY rarely drinks alcohol. This is the harsh truth. Booze (and of course smoking) is absolutely devastating for our bodies as well as our looks. Would Ma Dear look the way she does had she been drinking like I did and smoked too? I don’t believe so, but of course there are those people who absolutely trash their bodies with drugs and whatever else, eat poorly and do no exercise and STILL don’t lose their looks or even health. I can’t think of one but they exist, don’t they?
Who do we have in the celebrity star galaxy who is known for hard living yet is as fresh as a daisy? Drew Barrymore? Although, didn’t she have messy teenage years and then got clean? I actually went on Google but it gives me a list of ten celebrities who have all now been sober for decades – Mary J Blige, Bradley Cooper, Anthony Hopkins, Jada Pinkett and some others – and I can’t find anyone who’s STILL AT IT. Help here? They only need to be famous so we have a common reference point given chances are that you and I don’t have friends in common. Someone north of 40, please, who’s an active alcoholic. A full-on, unapologetic piss-head. You know, with a drinking habit like Keith Richards but not Keith Richards as I think we can agree the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle is apparent even at a glance. Show me that person, there HAS to be someone, I’m serious!
I think it’s safe to say, even if those exceptions to the rule of booze fuelled ageing do exist, that time will be a lot meaner to us inside and out if we treat our bodies and our health like a rubbish bin. You are what you drink, perhaps, and definitely what you smoke.
As for the film mentioned, Emily Blunt’s character is how old? In her thirties perhaps? Yes, she’s beautiful but the film does depict the alcoholic fairly well I thought when I watched it. She certainly isn’t “too pretty” to be a drunk because no one is, any more than you can be too tall or too skinny. Alcoholism is a democratic creature in that sense, much like depression and most other illnesses and diseases – you can’t buy your way out of any of them. Ever heard of anyone who paid $1,000,000 to escape cancer? Or got well because they were under 5ft4 and only people taller than that got the really aggressive version? Obviously not. Having said that, there are of course groups of people where the prevalence of alcohol abuse is much smaller – e.g. the Arabic world, where alcohol just isn’t used the way it is around this neck of the woods – but my point is based on the assumption that in any group with the same access to booze and the same perception of what it supposedly does and is for, we will not be able to say that it’s a specific type of person who sinks into addiction.
Oh, I don’t know. Do you?
As for this particular alcoholic, yesterday was a little bit monumental for me. Hubby was away and I got home in the evening feeling the way I do when I really REALLY want to have a drink: in a fucking excellent mood after my last training session with Dimples. Home alone and felt happy and good. But no, nothing. Nothing whatsoever. In fact, when I tried to play the dangerous game of deliberately conjuring up images of that huge glass of wine, I felt nothing. Not a thing. Just pleasantly spent from doing squats and burpees, watched a bit of TV and then read my book until I was sleepy. Bliss, really. It made me so happy. See? All these things a non-alcoholic might even dismiss as a really ordinary or even boring evening. Not me – for me, this was HUGE. I’m not so stupid that I for a moment believe that this means I’m “cured” or “there” or “done” but it’s pretty spectacular nevertheless, no? Well, I thought so. There may even been a little happy tear…
Today I’m not going to drink.