After revealing she’s done her “fair share of drinking” in the past, Bella Hadid shared she’s been sober for a total of five months in a TikTok posted on Monday – no mean feat when living in the 21st century, where alcohol consumption is so intrinsically intertwined with… well… everything. Does this abstinence mark the beginning of a new wellness revolution? It’s certainly no secret that a more moderated approach to drinking is better for the mind, body and soul.
5 months alcohol free
It’s so normal to drink: to drink when you’re alone and tired after a long day; to drink when you’re with colleagues after work; to drink with friends on the weekend; to drink at brunch; to drink at dinner; to drink at the pub; to drink at home. In fact, it comes as more of a shock to say you don’t drink.
As Adrienne Matei wrote for The Guardian, “Drinking […] has always been portrayed as the ultimate way to have a good time. Conversely, not drinking seems somewhat suspect; abstaining is often interpreted as a tacit indication that you struggle with alcoholism, itself historically stigmatised and kept private, or that you’re just a virtue-signalling teetotaller who doesn’t know how to have fun.”
Drinking culture is so ingrained, so widely accepted as being the social norm, that when you turn down a drink, people often refuse to accept what you’re saying. Cue the comments like: “What? Why don’t you drink?”, “Wait so like.. you’ve never drunk?”, “Okay but would you drink just a little?”
Knowing that you’re about to be subjected to an onslaught of questions, one might even feel the need to apologise for their soberness (“I don’t drink, sorry”), as if this will somehow lessen the blow.
It’s frustrating – why do people feel entitled and compelled to question someone’s life choice? There’s such a disparity between the reaction to saying you don’t drink, and to saying you don’t smoke, for example; it’s somehow much more acceptable to say you don’t fancy a ciggy without receiving the third degree. The same goes for drugs; in the book, “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol”, former features editor of the UK’s Sunday Times Style supplement, Ruby Warrington, says we have a “collective conditioning around alcohol being acceptable (not really a “drug”, even) while other substances (MDMA, cannabis) remain taboo.” She also says that we likely never “learn to question the ways in which we are taught to drink and think about drink.”
She later touches on society’s overwhelming obsession with alcohol, and how it can make sober people feel isolated: “Why is alcohol so… everywhere? How come I feel like an outsider, a weirdo, sometimes a problem, if I say I don’t drink? Why do I sometimes lie about why I’m not drinking? Where do I go to socialise without booze?”
Yet, despite this overwhelming attitude, we’re seeing a shift; more and more celebrities are reveling in their soberness, with big players like Bella Hadid, Chrissy Teigen, Miley Cyrus, Anne Hathaway and Daniel Radcliffe (to name but a few) publicly celebrating their teetotal lifestyles.
This new, more moderated approach to alcohol consumption is “the next logical step in the wellness revolution.” – Ruby Warrington
The aforementioned Ruby Warrington has coined this new attitude towards drinking as being “sober curious”. In her book, she says “unless your drinking is making you a danger to yourself or others, there is no rigid rule book when it comes to the right or wrong way to imbibe.” She encourages us to “work it out for ourselves” when it comes to our own “boozestory”.
So, on the one hand, we have this heroin chic aesthetic disappointingly making a comeback – glamourising drugs, alcohol and the lifestyle that comes with it – and on the other, we have the new “sober curious” movement. One lauds the idea of stumbling in at 5am, crashing on the sofa in a full face of makeup, waking up two hours later and going into work looking “grungy” (it’s no coincidence that the term “heroin chic” has resurfaced alongside the new grunge aesthetic, with multiple SS23 catwalks showcasing waxy, dark, slept-in makeup looks), whereas the other commends the very opposite. Warrington suggests that this new, more moderated approach to alcohol consumption is “the next logical step in the wellness revolution.”
Bella Hadid, then, could definitely be described as sober curious, which The Guardian echoes as someone who “drinks less or not at all, and broadcasts their abstinence with pride as a part of their social media persona.”
In posts on social media and in an interview with InStyle, Hadid confessed to finding herself reverting to alcohol whenever she felt low in energy or anxious. “I’ve really scaled back my alcohol consumption this year and have made brain care my ultimate priority.”
“My social anxiety was something that slowly crept up on me as I grew into my twenties. It got harder for me to go out without having one drink to calm my nerves, which made me not want to go out at all so I was just hibernating between jobs.”
Bella’s candour is much needed when there’s so much societal pressure to drink. With statements like, “I felt like I wouldn’t be able to control myself,” and “There’s just this never-ending effect of, essentially, you know, pain and stress over those few drinks that didn’t really do much, you know?” it makes us think twice about our consumption, and whether we’re drinking for ourselves or for others.
It’s heart-warming to see how Bella’s relationship with alcohol has developed, and to hear her say things that suggest she feels more in control: “I don’t feel the need [to drink alcohol]
because I know how it will affect me at three in the morning when I wake up with horrible anxiety thinking about that one thing I said five years ago when I graduated high school.”
She also revealed that quitting helps her manage her Lyme disease symptoms. Her doctor showed her scans of how alcohol was impacting her brain, which she said made it “a lot harder to pick up the glass”.
Her sober journey has even impacted her sleep health for the better. “When I was flying so much, that was kind of the only way I would be able to not be jet-lagged,” she said, explaining that she would have to take sleeping pills to get some rest. “But now I really have something holistic and it’s doing something for my body every day.”
Now, Bella Hadid is co-founder of Kin Euphorics – a brand that sells “non-alcoholic alternative drinks + spirits” in a “a feel-good revelry revolution”. Created alongside Jen Batchelor, (who’s LinkedIn profile says, “always alcohol free, Kin Euphorics are a new way to elevate your Self, connect with others, and take back your morning afters”) each beverage is infused with adaptogens and nootropics.
Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that can help your body handle feelings of stress, anxiety and tiredness, while nootropics are cognitive enhancers. Sometimes also known as “brain supplements” or “smart drugs”, nootropics are a group of medicinal substances that improve and stimulate cognitive functions, and you can get prescription and non-prescription types. This might sound scary, but they’re often found in supplements or energy drinks; caffeine, for example, is a nootropic.
With so many more alcohol-free brands cropping up, and with celebrities like Bella Hadid championing and normalising our right to choose how we consume alcohol, we have hope that the future for teetotallers is less ostracizing, and much more welcoming.