Mamrie Hart's new memoir is a hilarious lesson in radical self-acceptance

May 20, 2015 at 9:45 a.m. ET

Mamrie Hart, the star of the runaway YouTube channel of the same name, has a penchant for puns and drunken antics.

She is undeniably a funny lady, and her humor translates beautifully — even more powerfully, I’d argue — to the page. Her jokes have more time to build, her punchlines land harder. She’s created an entirely hilarious read that will delight her current fans by giving them a pitcher-sized serving of her normally shot-sized jokes (she is clearly better at booze analogies than I am) and entice new readers who have enjoyed recent books by other humor heavy-hitters (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling — you know the drill).

What I didn’t expect was that You Deserve a Drink was also going to be a book about radical self-acceptance. While the book is a series of Hart’s “boozy misadventures and tales of debauchery," ranging from drunkenly using poison ivy as toilet paper to her blatant inability to poop when she’s abroad, the undercurrent is that Hart takes self-love seriously.

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Take, for example, the chapter where Hart explores the panic attacks that have plagued her for most of her adult life. The attacks would happen before almost every live show: “Those anxious feelings would start to cover me like molasses... There was this disconnect between my brain and mouth,” she writes.

She learned to take 10 minutes before each performance to excuse herself to the bathroom to give herself a pep talk and, well, poop, as she happily admits that her nerves made her desperately need to take a dump. “As soon as you hear the first laugh, all these crazy feelings will melt away,” she’d tell herself. And: “Worst-case scenario, you shit onstage.”

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But Hart feels no shame about her new anxiety. In fact, she thinks the silence around panic attacks make them worse. She advises, “Be vocal about it… it isn’t something to be embarrassed about. In fact, more than likely you already have a friend who experiences the same thing.” Hart doesn’t wallow in the trauma of these attacks, or even give a pep talk on how to overcome them — she normalizes and accepts them as part of her personality, a dark that is part of the light.

In one of her “Quickshot” chapters — a theme taken from her channel that she uses in the book to tell a series of anecdotes that don’t necessarily fit a broader linear story — she talks about her struggles with grooming-related tasks. For example, her nails. “My feet are disgusting,” she writes. These little piggies look like they’ve already been to the slaughterhouse… the general odor of my feet is that of a Dumpster that’s been cooking in hell.”

On washing her face before bed: “This is a completely nonexistent concept to me. I wake up every morning looking like the walk of shame, all my makeup still intact but smeared.” All this aside, she closes the chapter saying:

“But Even with All These Gripes, the Fact Remains…

… I still look fine as hell.”

Perhaps the clearest example of her dedication to self-acceptance is in the chapter "Topless Tuesdays." Hart is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and she and her closest girlfriends begin spending their Tuesdays bare-chested, drinking, making crafts and playing games. Interest in their get-togethers grow, and soon it’s a full-fledged club. “It was the perfect combination of a craft night and a raging party, without ever having to worry about what to wear,” she writes. “Topless Tuesday… celebrated all looks and body types.”

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This leads to all kinds of fun drama, like her French professor offhandedly commenting about her Tuesday antics, and accidentally flashing a couple who has come by to see the house as a potential rental property. Years later, she is performing one of her #NoFilter shows and a heckler yells “saggy tits” at her. Topless Tuesday is what she thinks about, and she’s grateful for the lingering self-confidence it brought her. She says it best:

“You see, the club was never about the nudity. It was about creating a space, a day, a group of people you didn’t need to impress with your body… Topless Tuesday was a judgment-free zone. And because becoming that comfortable without clothes around my friends actually made me more comfortable in my clothes all the other days of the week."

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“Ah, nobody is perfect,” she writes. “Literally, no body is perfect. So, why do I stress about mine?”

Why should you stress about it? Perhaps that’s the mantra we should all take from the book: nobody is perfect. So why stress about it? You still look fine as hell.

You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery will be released May 26, 2015.

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