I Tried the Ellen Degeneres Diet
It was a lot like Atkins, if Atkins involved Tic Tacs.
Unlike previous Man Repeller lifestyle diets completed by yours truly that simultaneously indulged a solid decade’s worth of personal fandom (cough, “I Lived Like Amy Schumer”) (double cough, “Test-Driving the ‘Gilmore Girls’ Diet”), carbon copying the habits of one Ellen Lee Degeneres was an adventure in very unexplored territory.
Like most millennials, I have of course dabbled in the occasional viral Ellen clip. Where were you when you first watched an alarmingly hyper Sophia Grace belt out the words to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” alongside an eerily sedate Rosie on Ellen’s hallowed floorboards? I was a sophomore in college lying in bed eating Honey Bunches of Oats with vanilla soy milk — but that’s besides the point. The point is that when it comes to Ellen Degeneres, I knew about her uncanny ability to source cusp-of-fame sensations from tiny corners of the internet (Damn Daniel, anyone?), her warm and charming demeanor when quizzing celebs about relationship rumors, her nerdy dance moves that put Michelle Obama’s to shame, her pristine collection of white button-downs and, atop her head, the coolest pixie cut this side of not-France, but I didn’t know much else.
So I did some research. I read some interviews. I skimmed her books. I watched some more clips. And I quickly realized that there is a very good reason why Ellen Degeneres has an entire Wikipedia page devoted to her awards and popularity. Her personality and habits add up to one of the most supremely likeable celebrities in the game. She is the vanilla cupcake of celebs: sweet, normal, talented, widely appealing, extremely palatable and — beyond coming out on the cover of Time Magazine in 1997 — totally uncontroversial. Her brand of humor is centered on being nice to people. She doesn’t talk about politics. She is a vegan, not for health but for ethical reasons, because that is how freaking much she loves animals.
Here’s the thing: I am the opposite of normal, and I am in charge of this article (hi), so I decided to take this unsolicited opportunity to focus my journalistic pursuits on locating and living out Ellen’s weird side — the licorice-flavored surprise center to her crowd-pleasing vanilla exterior, if you will. Because believe me, everyone has one. And Ellen’s deserves to be celebrated and savored in the public arena.
Enough with this dumbass cupcake metaphor. Let’s begin.
I started with a simple yet, when really you stop and consider it, downright funky trait: Ellen is never not wearing a button-down. At first you might think to yourself, button-downs are exceedingly common. Wearing a button-down 24/7 isn’t that unusual. Right?
WRONG. Because it’s not so much the shirt itself, but rather how she wears it. A button-down is to Ellen Degeneres as a sweatshirt is to every other human everywhere. She wears them on long plane rides! On casual strolls in L.A.! Backstage at her show! You get the idea. Instead of grabbing a favorite hoodie, Ellen grabs a favorite button-down. So I did the same. I wore a starch-y white button-down in lieu of my go-to pajama top whilst lounging in loungewear on a cozy Sunday, and I wore another, equally starch-y white button-down instead of a Lululemon tank while practicing 20 minutes of at-home yoga. My takeaways? Button-down shirts are not ideal for weekend lounging or light exercise, and Ellen Degeneres is a marvel.
Next up: Ellen loves pranking people. I consider this to be an exceptionally weird trait because I find pranks to be one of the most stressful things in the world, topped only by deciding whether it’s okay to microwave Tupperware. I have pulled very few pranks in my 25 years, but the first one I can think of off the top of my head is telling a younger student in high school that my dad invented corn on the cob. Not only is this prank objectively boring (not to mention strange and more of a lie than a prank), but I also confessed the truth after seven minutes. My post-prank guilt is crippling.
One of Ellen Degeneres’s recurring pranks is scaring the bejeezus out of Taylor Swift. In Ellen’s words, “There’s so much to love about Taylor Swift. She’s kind, she’s gorgeous, she’s an amazing artist, and when you scare her, she crumbles like a potato chip.” I took my diet cues from this sentiment and proceeded to render as many friends, coworkers and loved ones into potato chip debris as I could.
I think my best scare was loudly screaming “AHHH” during a lull in a FaceTime conversation with a friend, causing her to scream in response and drop her phone in a puddle (don’t worry, the phone was fine). My worst was when I hid around the corner of my bathroom and shouted “BOO” at my roommate when she exited the shower, and she just looked at me and laughed. Certain potato chips are tough to crack. I’ll get her next time.
Onto the next eyebrow-raising Ellen habit! Before tapings of her show, Ellen often tries to throw a Tic Tac in the air and catch it in her mouth. If the idea of a grown woman/billionaire attempting to catch a Tic Tac in her mouth once a day isn’t the most delightfully weird thing I’ve ever entertained in my brain, I don’t know what is.
I co-opted this thrilling Ellenism by pledging to attempt Tic Tac-to-mouth catches before various important events and milestones of my own. Allow me to present my scoreboard:
Ready for mysterious Ellen habit #4? Get this: She loves moving — as in moving houses. Don’t worry, I’ll say it again because I’m sure you just fainted: She loves MOVING. She told Good Housekeeping, “I’ve lived in five houses over the past seven years.” This is fascinating to me for many reasons, but most of all because I assumed that, like me, everyone on planet Earth hates the prospect of moving with a loin-burning passion.
The first time I moved apartments, I had a full-on breakdown on a mattress in Ikea. The whole experience left me physically and emotionally drained. Ditto for my savings account. I guess the caveat here is that Ellen is very wealthy and probably has a large staff, so maybe “moving” to her means having her assistant send her a calendar reminder to drive home to a new address that day. Idk.
What I do know is that, while I was writing this article, I also happened to be on the cusp of moving apartments. Coincidence? I think not. Gift from the internet gods? Perhaps. Potential blow to my sanity? Almost definitely. But I resolved to put an Ellen Degeneres spin on the situation and attempted to enjoy the process of moving. I patched holes with gusto. I removed curtain rods with glee. I chanted this is so fun this is so fun this is so fun in my head while I packed up my room. I assured myself that the money I took from my savings account to pay the movers was money well spent. And you know what? It kind of worked. This move wasn’t nearly as bad as my last. I had a grand total of zero breakdowns in Ikea. But I still don’t want to do it again for another 1.5 million years.
I completed my tour of Ellen Degeneres’s most bizarre habits the only way I knew she’d want me to: awkward dancing in inappropriate settings. One of Ellen’s signature dances involves straddling the table on her set and shimmying across it. I decided to do the same with the coffee table in the middle of the Man Repeller office. After staring each and every one of my coworkers in the eye, I placed one leg on either side of the table and gyrated my body from one end to the other. This brief activity was a great inner thigh stretch and an unexpected opportunity for my colleagues to envision how I might look in the eleventh hour of childbirth. You’re welcome and goodnight.