Retta had no idea “treat yo self” would become so big — and please, don’t quote it to her
Season 4, episode 4 of Parks and Recreation is titled “Pawnee Rangers.” But you probably call it something else, like the “treat yo’ self” episode. It’s the half-hour of television that launched a very famous self-care (and, okay, the excuse to be indulgent) motto. Even if you’ve never seen the episode, you’re probably still familiar with the phrase.
In the episode, Tom and Donna invite Ben to join their annual “Treat Yo Self Day.” It’s the one (?!) day of the year they dedicate to treating themselves to things like clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas, and fine leather goods. And before Parks and Rec knew it, the phrase was everywhere. In her new memoir, So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, Retta talks about how “treat yo’ self” took off overnight — and hasn’t stopped since.
Retta says her friend was visiting set the day they shot the “treat yo’ self” scenes and immediately commented that it was going to be huge. At first, Retta didn’t believe her. But once the episode aired, her Twitter mentions blew up, and she realized her friend was right.
“Sure enough, the night it aired, I had been out. When I got home, I remember checking Twitter and my @ mentions were through the fucking roof. WTF? I was like, what happened?” Retta writes in her memoir. “I used to play a game with my friends where we could go to lunch and I’d bet, ‘If Treat Yo Self hasn’t been tweeted in the last six or seven minutes, I buy lunch.’ I never bought lunch. It’s still tweeted pretty constantly. Check it. I’’l wait…It’s there, isn’t it? Be sure to check the hashtag as well. That counts. People say it all the time.”
But if you ever meet Retta IRL, a word of advice: Don’t quote Donna’s catchphrase to her. Because you’ll hardly be the first.
"Here's my thing: People really think that they're the first person to say it to me. Like they are breaking new ground. I'll order food, they'll hand it to me and say, 'Treat yo self.' I'll be getting on a flight: 'Treat yo self.' And don't let me post a new purse or a happy-hour cocktail on Instagram. If I don't get a hundred Treat Yo Self comments then something is wrong."
Retta understands the excitement and tries to be nice about it. But unfortunately, some Parks and Rec superfans take it too far.
"I usually try to smile and be friendly about it because for them it's a big deal. They've never seen me in person and it's likely the first thing that pops to mind. What I don't like is when someone expects me to say it on their Snapchat or in a video to their friend. I'm sorry but I'm not your puppet."
Still, Retta embraces “treat yo’ self.” It’s what Donna would want her to do.
"I am embracing 'Treat Yo Self' because it will likely be on my tombstone. It's my 'Dy-no-mite!' My 'Kiss my grits!' My 'Norm!' My 'Whatchu talkin' bout Willis?' My 'Yadda yadda yadda.' I'm aight with that. As Donna would say, 'That's the Meagle motto!'"
So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know is now available wherever books are sold.