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Why Women Are Dying for a Drink and What We Can Do About It
The first time I was flabbergasted, enraged, disgusted, and infuriated, by a toxic alcohol marketing campaign I was three months sober, and newly grateful to be finally free of the incessant need to drink my nights away. I stumbled over a website for a wine that was marketed to women and started reading their blog. The sales pitch was a direct hit on the addict brain and it made me want to scream ” NOOOO! How can they get away with this! They are selling the exact behavior that got me stuck in a nightly blackout binge drinking routine as cool and acceptable!” . Then I stumbled over a Today Show clip of Kathie Lee and Hoda gleefully promoting Mommy’s Sippy Cup, a plastic wine cup that appeared as if it would fit quite nicely in a minivan cup holder. Their cutesy feel-good gift of the season for over-stressed moms.
I am not a writer but I started writing. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote about the toxic marketing I saw. But I quickly realized that there was no way to even begin to make a dent in “feel good, be empowered, drink more! we’re all in this together!” media push of the 21st century.
Mommy Juice wine was sued for the message on their label, but not because it sold addictive behavior to mothers. They were sued by Mommy’s Time Out wine in a ” we had the Mommy idea first” fight. Mommy’s Time out won. And now it’s Jane Walker who is empowerment in a bottle.
Janey Walker ? Excuse me…. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR !!!!!
It doesn’t matter that Deaths from liver disease are surging, and drinking is to blame
And it Doesn’t Matter that Alcohol is killing more people, and younger. The biggest increases are among women
It is so easy to sell addictive behavior and keep it going in a culture that blames the addict not the drug. We are taught to believe that the Disease of Alcoholism is at fault for these deaths in the United States, not a culture that pushes alcohol as a health and beauty product, pushes alcohol as the tie that binds, as the solution to all that ails you. Drinking in the United States is sold as the solution, not the problem. Like guns are sold as the solution to gun violence, alcohol is sold as the solution to stress, depression, and alienation.
I am not naive enough to think that the majority of corporate marketing execs are motivated by anything other than greed. And I know that the tentacles of the alcohol industry are wrapped around many mainstream media outlets. There are no other countries that I know of where news and veiws broadcasters start drinking wine at 10 am on the tube. I can’t even begin to imagine how that trend was allowed to begin and continue but it is obvious where it has gone if you look at all of the headlines.
There is little or no regulation on how booze is marketed in the United States. Below are some thoughts from me on the absolute toxic B.S. that my generation has been sold but first ….here is my sales pitch …. If you are drinking too much too often and finding that it is the problem, not the solution come talk to us. We hang out in a private, determinedly non-commercial space, away from the marketing machine of social media and talk it through every day. You may be surprised to find how many intelligent, successful people are finding that daily drinking routine to be anything but empowering. The name of our community is BOOM Rethink the Drink. Because that is what this is about. Thinking for yourself. In a community of people who are thinking as well.
This is something I wrote when I was about a year sober. Sobriety, not the pretty bottles, is absolutely the best gift I have ever given myself. Booze will be sold and sold, and artfully, cunningly sold, as empowering, sexy, adult, refined, essential!… it’s up to you to find your truth. Finding that truth just might save your life.
following updated from a version originally published on the Boozemusings Blog in 2016, in Huffington Post in 2017
You Go Girl!
I love that expression! It’s so empowering and positive. People have been saying that a lot to me and although it’s been a long time since I could be described as a girl the expression has defined me perfectly as I’ve traveled through my first three sober years.
Positive and Empowered!
I am part of a generation of women that grew up expecting empowerment. As little girls in the early 1970’s, we danced in our nightgowns, singing into a hairbrush with the Enjoli perfume ad belted out Helen Reddy’s I am Woman in the shower.
We didn’t have to fight as hard as our mothers had for opportunity. Sexual stereotyping, sexual harassment, and unequal pay for equal work were problems that we did face but our mothers had opened the door for us and said “Break the Rules! Take Risks! Define Yourselves!” Back in 1968 Virginia Slims cigarettes told us “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” and now in the twenty-first century, the alcohol industry enthusiastically sells us daily drinking as our just reward.
My generation of strong independent women, and our daughters are being sold the idea that we not only deserve to drink to wind down but we NEED to. Products like Anti-AGin and Skinnygirl Cocktails sell us the fantasy of drinking without consequences while Mommies Time Out wine normalizes the idea that we NEED to de-stress by drinking. In this age of social media saturation, when Facebook pages like Mommy’s Time Out proclaim “ The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink. Unless of course, you drink Mommy’s Time Out. We’re affordable”
not drinking to “wind down” seems positively counter culture.
It’s become un-cool to NOT pop the cork at play dates, book clubs, and PTA meetings. Advising women not to drink while pregnant is often called “sexist” and any suggestion that women drinking to blackout in social situations are more vulnerable to assault is met with a strong accusation of blaming the victim.
A few years ago I found that It didn’t matter how normalized my nightly bottle of wine seemed because the contents were breaking down the empowered woman that I had grown up to be. After a bottle and a bit of wine at night, I would often forget going to sleep only to wake at four in the morning with a splitting headache, dry mouth and extreme sense of regret. I was tired, bloated, and insecure. My personal and professional lives were holding together but I felt lost and alone. I was on a hamster wheel, constantly overcompensating during the day for the nightly drinking I regretted.
At three years and a bit sober I have my power back and will do everything I can to reach out to my sisters and our daughters, as well as my brothers and our sons, with the message that “sobriety offers everything that alcohol promised “.
As part of my first sober year, I did a lot of thinking about why I drank so much. I’ve come to realize that many of the reasons that I felt justified in binging on a bottle and a half of wine most nights are the same reasons that so many women in my generation are doing the same thing.
That beautiful woman in the Enjoli perfume ad that inspired us as little girls in the 1970s was everything to everybody. When we grew up and realized in the late 1990’s that being her left us exhausted and drained the alcohol industry jumped in to offer their products as our rocket fuel. Cocktails for one and “my special wine time” have become a symbol of empowerment and freedom for women. Drinking alone has become an accepted way for women to recover from the stress of multitasking. Me and my bottle. Do not disturb.
As a culture, it’s time we looked at our NEED to drink to socialize. Our NEED to drink to wind down. Do we really NEED to normalize heavy regular drinking or is it the alcohol industry that’s selling us the idea that the spirit is in the bottle.
A little over three years ago I realized that I had become addicted to my wine crutch. I was terrified that I might not be able to stop. I was terrified that life without my rocket fuel would be dull. But I found my self in sobriety and I’ll never go back to drowning my voice.
If you’re questioning your drinking and aren’t sure how to stop or cut down
Talk to Us
Alcohol is the only drug that people question you for NOT using but you don’t HAVE to drink. Don’t stay trapped because the stigma of not drinking seems worse than the cost of drinking to much.
We are a private, anonymous, free, community where you can start thinking it through
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