Everyone knows Cookie Monster.
“Sesame Street” was a staple of all our childhoods, with its easy-going theme song, the familiar Muppets and the lessons of kindness and compassion the characters all taught us.
And, let’s be honest; everyone had their favorite Muppet. Some liked Oscar the Grouch, thinking his grumpiness was funny and his trash can home was silly. Others found Big Bird appealing (but he always scared me a little). Grover had his ever-entertaining antics — Super Grover was a huge part of my childhood. And who could forget Bert and Ernie? Their dynamic was unparalleled.
But Cookie Monster was always my favorite. I’m pretty sure it started out just because I appreciated and could relate to his obsession with cookies. What 3-year-old couldn’t? But now, I think Cookie Monster means something more than just a love for cookies; he represents a need for self-care and the absolute importance of putting yourself first.
Somewhat recently, “Sesame Street” and its creators have tried to shift Cookie Monster’s love for cookies onto some other, healthier foods in an effort to encourage kids to eat healthier. In fact, when Grover appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel” he even mentioned Cookie Monster having “a little bit of a cookie problem” and, as a result, is now on a diet to eat “better” foods instead of just cookies. Cookie Monster being used to promote diet culture is concerning because it can be very damaging — it often encourages people to forgo desserts and food labeled as “bad” altogether.
That being said, considering the discussion surrounding Cookie Monster as a symbol for addiction, it isn’t really that surprising to see “Sesame Street” try to change things up a little with Cookie Monster and his favorite food. And look, I get it; parents want their kids to be healthy. They want to see their kids pick a carrot over a cookie, and who better to teach them that lesson than Cookie Monster?
But as a college student who faces burnout and has trouble prioritizing self-care, I can’t help but think Cookie Monster has the right idea. Enjoy your life. Do what makes you happy. Eat a cookie.
We shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time for ourselves and doing things that we enjoy. Many institutions have been increasing their focus on mental health — and for good reason. And part of taking care of your mental health is prioritizing self-care. Whether that means reading a book, doing a face mask or eating some dessert to get you through a hard day, you absolutely need to take time for yourself, and I think Cookie Monster would be the first to agree.
Of course, there are responsibilities that we need to account for — the “vegetables” of daily life. School, work, laundry: the not-so-fun things that we all have to do. They’re important and necessary, absolutely, but they don’t really bring us joy. The “cookies” in life, though … those bring joy. Self-care. Family. Friendship. Maybe even real cookies. These are the things that we have to remember to include.
It can be far, far too easy to focus too much on the responsibilities in our lives and forget that the little things are important too. So maybe we should start embracing Cookie Monster’s new take on life and make sure to eat our carrots and our cookies. Moderation is key to this. So many students struggle with balancing all the things on their plates (pun intended), and often mental health and self-care fall to the back burner – but they shouldn’t anymore.
So the next time you ask yourself if you should power through yet another late-night study session instead of just going to sleep, think about what Cookie Monster would do.
He’d eat a cookie, and so should you.
Managing Arts Editor Sabriya Imami can be reached at email@example.com.