I Tried The Brutal Honesty Diet


Have you ever tried an experiment wherein you were brutally honest during a weekend away with your in-laws?

No, of course you haven’t.

Do you know how I know that? Because I have faith that you are not a self-sabotaging maniac. Neither are you idiotic enough to not recognize that when your mom told you white lies were sometimes acceptable, the “sometimes” she referred was directly correlated to your relationship with your in-laws.

Direct correlation, people.

Yin and yang.

I, on the other hand, am a daredevil and live life on a ledge (not edge) that no one should so much as inch towards and thus, when I assigned myself the task of executing a “brutal honesty diet” (sue me, I watched Liar Liar while on a flight recently and thought, hey, wouldn’t it be funny if I did that? Turns out some ideas are best left swirling through the trenches of my impaired psyche), I chose the world’s worst time to conduct the diet.

Because it wasn’t just over a weekend with my in-laws. Leading up to the weekend (I chose a span of 5 days), I was also implicitly brutally honest at a wedding. Can you imagine the turmoil that would have overcome me had the bride looked anything like I did at my wedding? She’d have asked me what I thought and I would have had to tell her that I think she looked like a parody of herself. That there’s a reason people don’t get airbrushed in real life and that fake eyelashes are a suggestion, not a mandatory insert. Then I’d have to ask her to change and it would be very awkward. Luckily, she looked phenomenal.

But when asked by a relative of the groom how I liked the veal balls, I had to call them atrocious. Truly akin to eating human flesh — reason enough to convert back to vegetarianism in spite of my fertility doctor’s request that I consume more red meat for iron.

And then, of course, there was the fiasco with my husband. He was wearing a workout shirt with slacks and asked me how he looked. White Lie Leandra would have said fine (technically speaking, it is fine to wear a white workout shirt recreationally — isn’t that what athleisure is all about?), but Brutally Honest Leandra had to call him ridiculous. A joke. The scrawny Jewish club kid version of Lochlyn Munro’s character in A Night at The Roxbury.


(I didn’t know he spoke Spanish, either!)

But let’s fast forward to the weekend, yeah? Two things I purposely avoided:

a) Any communication with business correspondents. I foresaw “a great idea!” email coming my way involving what I’d consider the professional equivalent of coal mining (“How would you like to pay me to model in my fashion show and Instagram the whole thing 45 times while it’s happening!”), to which I’d have to reply “fuck you,” which seems unacceptable, no matter the request.

b) A political conversation with my father-in-law because usually what I do is pretend I’m dead when anything of the nature comes up.

I will subtract 15 points from my overall score (I didn’t realize I was scoring myself, either!) for deliberately avoiding the aforementioned two items.

And as a matter of fact, I’m just going to shut the fuck up about the specifics of the diet over all because they seem kind of boring. Some were sort of funny, but I shared those already. There was mention of a bisexual paint ball tournament at some point, but truly, I meant it as a compliment.

What is actually important (drum roll, plz!) is what I learned. Yes, this is an episode of Full House, and at the end of each narrative comes a lesson. So here it is.

You will feel less overwhelmed and socially uncomfortable if you go into all settings under the guise that you are going to be completely and utterly honest. Truly! I was worried I’d end up divorced after the weekend, but apparently I like my in-laws enough for them to not have noticed much change in my demeanor. Except, maybe, for the fact that I cursed more and spoke in lots and lots of obscure metaphors that referenced weird visual renderings.

It also seemed likely that I’d lose a friend on the account of it being her wedding and my word vomit, but guess what? She looked great and, except for the wine that tasted like airplane chardonnay and those veal balls, the party was Bomb Ass. Thats b-o-m-b-a-s-s. The other thing, by the way, is that if you’re not asked a question, you don’t have to answer. You don’t have to inject an unwelcome opinion. You can keep it to yourself. And in doing that, you take a shit load of pressure off yourself and maybe because you’re less tense, you also take a regular shit after months of constipation.

For the sake of brutal honesty, I’ll leave it at that.

Feature collage by Lily Ross.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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