Ask Catherine Cohen: How Do I Deal With Post-Covid Body Anxiety?

In her latest advice column, the comedian addresses readers’s concerns about re-entering society after a year of isolation.

Comedian and actress Catherine Cohen has built a cult following for her chronicles of the bizarre, often humiliating experience of being a 20-something woman. In her original show tunes and on her popular podcast Seek Treatment (co-hosted with fellow comedian Pat Regan) she skewers the clichés of millennial aspiration, deadpans about sex on antidepressants, and earnestly celebrates such triumphs as finding love or drinking seven beers. Her first book, God I Feel Modern Tonight: Poems From a Gal About Town is out now.

Have a question for Catherine? Send it to [email protected]

I gained a fair amount of weight over the pandemic (crippling depression can do that to ya!) and I’m incredibly nervous/stressed/anxious about entering social situations with people who haven’t seen me in a year and are themselves looking hotter than ever. How do I deal with post-Covid body anxiety?

HONEY, SAME! We’ve randomly been forced to adapt to unimaginable change and withstand the constant pulse of devastating loss for an entire YEAR—if you think I haven’t been self-medicating with Taco Bell (cheesy gordita crunch + six packets of fire sauce) and my nightly glass of four White Claws, seek treatment! If someone you know is looking “hotter than ever” in the year 2021 we should make sure their brains are donated to science ASAP because a screw must be loose. Ikea vibes!

Firstly, please know you’re not alone. I’ve received the text “I need to go to Madewell to get new jeans” at least five times this week. Side note: I do have personal beef with Madewell because I find their clothes so bland, they make me want to congeal into bone broth. BUT their jeans are fab, stretchy, comfortable and cute. Ok enough about Madewell. Back to you and your gorgeous, healthy body that GOT YOU THROUGH A PANDEMIC.

Not to be this bitch but…being grateful for what you do have is a powerful way to alleviate stress. As is exercise, which makes me feel like a different person (GOALS!!!) and has proved more therapeutic than my various meds combined. *cut to me shaking my pill bottle screaming, “Is this thing on?!?!”*

It’s so frustrating that our bodies and our minds take time to change. Why do so many good things require patience? I’ll happily wait in line for six hours to ride El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure (front car obviously), yet I still expect my ass to go high, high above my head after one workout? Not fair! We are alive, healthy, and will soon be going to bars to poison our bodies again shortly. No one is thinking about your weight and if they are, they are probably incredibly boring, and we should find god and pray for them.

I can’t lie. I’ve enjoyed the time alone this year, and am not in a rush to hang out/put germs all over my friends. Am I going to have to make up other excuses like pre-pandem, or are we entering a new reality where we can be painfully honest? And, is it even safe to hope that “back to normal” is around the corner? A part of me can’t shake the idea that this (masks, etc.) is just reality now and we have entered this alternate universe forever.

What even IS reality? What even IS normal? Okay…someone had one weedy gummy three months ago and had a panic attack! Babe, I totally sympathize with your stress. While I wish I could text an acquaintance, “Hey I don’t want to get coffee with you now or ever because you only seem to text me when I’m doing well professionally and don’t actually give a shit about me as a person!” BUT what good would come of that? *stares into space for 6 hours frozen in time*

I like to think there’s a happy medium between making up excuses and being “painfully honest.” Maybe it’s “cutely honest” or “gently honest?” I feel so at peace when a friend texts me something like, “Hey I’m swamped, let me check back in with you next month,” or, “Too much on my plate right now but let’s plan for something after I meet my deadline.” I appreciate it, respect it and simply? j’adore it. OMG I miss Europe. Ugh I hope the whole world gets vaccinated soon so I can stand near a tall door in Paris. Anyways, tell people how you’re feeling—they’ll get it. I always trust that if someone really wants to see me, they’ll eventually make the effort and if they don’t, that’s fine, I meet a new fabulous person every six minutes in New York City. No time for those who aren’t addicted to my aura.

Be true to you and don’t be afraid to stay hopeful! I think it was Olivia Rodrigo who coined the famous phrase “This too shall pass.” One day, maybe months or years or decades from now, the pandemic will feel like an odd dream—you’ll find a mask in the back of your closet and think, What goofy little slut left their panties here? Then you’ll remember: That goofy little slut? Was you. Is you. Stay true to them. Be patient. Keep it simple. Ok enough vague truisms. You can also just ignore a text if the idea of corresponding with the sender makes you wish the pandemic wasn’t ending. XOXO

A three-part question: What’s your vibe on a three-piece bikini set and is that something I need? How do you go about “playing the game” when it’s summer and you want to hook up with a pair of best friends? Lastly, do you think the idea of streaking (i.e. through Times Square or a college quad) can actually be kinda cool?

Ok, it could be because I’m almost 30 (sound the alarms!!!) but I actually don’t understand any single part of your question and I say that with so much love in my heart. After googling “three-piece bikini set” it seems that there are bikinis that come with sarongs (Mom at Club Med Energy), bikinis that come with matching long-sleeve crop tops (if you want to feel like an extra from Blue Crush) and even bikinis that come with a matching face mask (dystopian gag gift). Which did you mean? Please write back next month so I can answer your question. JK that’s not how this column works. Anyways, I think a bikini with a matching sarong is cute. I just bought a blue one. Thank you for the tip!

Now for part II, dare I ask…what? TFW it’s summer and you want to hook up with a pair of best friends. Log on to Carpe.Diem.com, throw on that TPB (three-piece bikini) and tell them you’re interested. If they aren’t into it just say, “I was joking!!!” and laugh-sweat until you pass out and a lifeguard must revive you by fanning your sarong to and fro.

And lastly, the grand finale, I don’t think streaking is cool, but I think you should be naked in large bodies of water as often as humanly possible. Thank you for this chaotic and horny question, I am certain you will have a memoir-worthy summer!

I recently ended things with my toxic fuck buddy of almost two years (I know…….I know). I’m excited to have a sexy, fully vaccinated summer exploring new things and being true to myself, but the entire last two years that I’ve been single, I haven’t been able to get the satisfaction and kind of sex I want from these men. Is this like, normal? I’m kinky but not crazily so (thank you for the horny representation btw) and I’m tired of vanilla encounters. My ex-F buddy is the best sex I’ve ever had so believe me, it was hard to say goodbye, but ultimately, it’s for the best. How do I find that intense chemistry/good sex with someone casual without having to deal with a bunch of meh first?

CONGRATS. Omg literally…ending things is so terrible. I really do prefer when things start. Anyways, I’m proud of you! As Liv on Season 3 of Love Island would say, you’ve freed yourself from the dicksand that threatened to suck you away from a kickass summer. It’s sad that she and Chris are no longer ☹

As a 29-year-old goddess who spent 2014-2015 and 2017-2018 being what doctors have referred to as “extremely slutty,” I can assure you that there is SO much good sex with other people in your future. You can even have good sex with terrible people and only think about it once or twice a year when you and your best friend from college revisit the shared Google doc you maintain that lists everyone you’ve ever slept with next to a fun fact about them. Did you know that “Mike with a boat is hot but looks like frog??” I digress.

There are two ways to tell if the sex is going to be good without wasting your time having mediocre sex. 1) TALK ABOUT SEX. Are they comfortable doing that? Do they confidently share the kinds of things they’re interested in doing with you? We love to see it. 2) KISS THEM. I strongly believe you can teach someone to fuck but you can’t teach someone to kiss. I’ve tried. For what it’s worth, I also believe you can have good sex with a bad kisser, but eventually it won’t be worth avoiding the way that their tongue is being towards you.

Also, this isn’t an ad, but a friend of mine liked using the app Feeld—it was initially geared towards finding threesomes, but now bills itself as a sex positive space for people interested in “dating beyond the norm.” It might be worth checking out! Although they keep using the phrase “open-minded humans” on their website, which does make me feel like I’m at one of those Burning Man-adjacent parties featured in the WeWork documentary, but have at it!

I’m wondering how to best approach a cute boy out at a bar post-demmy. I am a gay boy. And tend to get nervous and overthink asking a cute boy out. I’m always like, Ok what if he’s straight???? That would be mortifying!

OOoo sweet angel—I’m certain whomever you ask out is going to be so thrilled and flattered and horny at the thought of even looking at another person—you really can’t lose. I’ve always thought the best way to ask someone out is to just be totally boring and honest and nice (are you asleep yet?) and say something like, “It would be fun to hang out sometime, would you like to do that?” If they’re feeling the vibe, it will happen. If not, it won’t, and you’ll ask out someone else who will say yes with fervor! If you get nervous while asking, it honestly just makes it all the more charming—who doesn’t #stan a relatable king?! Does “stan” really come from an Eminem song? How did that happen to us? Anyways, we are almost, as you so gorgeously put it, “post-demmy,” so get to the bar and ask away! And lastly, in my experience, straight guys love when a gay guy is into them. Ego boost much? Love is in the air; you’re doing everything right <3

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