Why We Need to Stop Glamorizing This Scandinavian Trend

Ever since I heard the word “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah), the Danish term for acknowledging when something is cozy, charming, or special,  I have had a soft spot for Scandinavian trends that make our lives better. Hygge became a huge trend heard all around the world, with everyone and their mother embracing the term’s emphasis on making us feel warm and fuzzy. Ever since then, though, I think we’ve all secretly been on the lookout for further wisdom from Scandinavia and now, according to Glamour, the next trend is here: Kalsarikänni, the Finnish word for “underwear drunk.”

Basically, this is a self-care concept that is all about taking your pants off at home and drinking in your underwear. The new term is actually “päntsdrunk,” at least according to the new book by Miska Rantanen, Päntsdrunk: The Finnish Path to Relaxation. Although there is admittedly nothing wrong with relaxing at home in whatever way you want, I have a serious problem with only encouraging people to relax with a drink in hand. As someone who had a serious problem with alcohol and is now in recovery, I know how quickly that “drink because you’re stressed” can turn into too many drinks.

My problem with the term “päntsdrunk” isn’t about the concept itself, or the fact that it’s from Finland, but rather that I am sick and tired of the way that our culture glamorizes drinking. These days, I can’t look at a magazine or television commercial or a meme on social media, without seeing some implications that drinking and getting drunk is the goal. In fact, I’ve seen more than one friend talk about how much they “need” a drink, and it’s precisely the word “need” when used in the same sentence as “a drink” that I take issue with.

Nobody needs a drink. Do you know what we need? We need food, water, and shelter. We also need love and companionship, perhaps a career we can be proud of, and definitely a president that doesn’t make our stomachs turn every time he opens his mouth. But we don’t need a drink. If drinking is the only coping mechanism a person has, well, it won’t be long before that person ends up like I did: In rehab after quite a few blackouts and losing a couple of jobs.

I’m not saying that everyone who copes with the issues of the world with drinking will become an alcoholic like I did, or that there is anything wrong with drinking, getting drunk, or taking your pants off at home in order to enjoy a cocktail at the end of a long day, as päntsdrunk would have you do. What I am saying is that we need to stop casually glamorizing drunkenness and acting as if the current drinking culture isn’t toxic.

Drinking isn’t the problem. The problem is encouraging a tired, stressed out new mother to relieve her anxiety with an extra large glass of wine, instead of asking her what you can do to help. The problem is saying to your coworker that you can’t get through the week without happy hour, on a Monday. The problem is treating drinking like a cure-all for all of life’s problems.

So when I read articles that declare that getting pantless drunk is the “Scandinavian wellness trend we need right now,” I can’t help but feel enraged. While hygge was all about embracing the moment, getting cozy with family and friends, and spending time indoors with your loved ones in a space that you love (such as your lovely candle-light apartment)… this one’s all about what? Going home to relax, taking off your pants, and having one too many? Excuse me while I give major side eye to this whole päntsdrunk thing. It’s NOT a wellness trend and it is certainly NOT something we need right now, or ever.

If you want to have a drink, then go ahead and have it. But don’t tell anyone that getting drunk or even tipsy is a need of yours. And if it is, then perhaps the best thing to do is to reevaluate the things in your life that cause you to say this, go to a therapist (like I do), and figure out how to fix things so that a “need” for alcohol doesn’t spiral out of control. Trust me on this one.

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