“A day without wine is like…just kidding I have no idea”, “Clear alcohol is for women on diets”, “Gone are the days women cooked like their mothers, now they drink like their fathers” and I could go on and on.
Or maybe you’ve even seen one like the one, which seems to be saying motherhood is synonymous with drinking wine. And drinking a lot of it. We’ve all seen them, and probably even chuckled at them. It seems you can’t log onto Facebook, or Instagram or whatever your social media platform of choice is these days without seeing some meme referring to women and alcohol. You’ve probably just kept on scrolling or maybe gave it a quick “like” or perhaps even shared it with the thought that your friends or family would get a kick out of it. But what effect is this having on us? Most 14-year-olds these days are on social media, what message is this sending to them?
I’ve seen memes featuring beautiful actresses, the women that pop culture tells us we should emulate. Jennifer Lawrence talking about how she took a shot just before taking the stage to accept her Oscar for “Best Actress”. To an impressionable 13-year-old girl who isn’t quite sure who she is and how she should act but has a deep desire to appear “cool” and funny like J-Law, the message is clear: If Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian are drinking, she should be too.
The sheer prevalence of these memes alone can give us the impression that everyone is drinking. Every mom is finding relief from her busy schedule with a large glass of red wine. It makes it socially acceptable to rely on alcohol to unwind at the end of a long day. Maybe at first, this is true, but as numerous studies have shown, prolonged alcohol use and abuse has a depressant effect and increases risk of, not only liver disease, but even breast cancer as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm).
In addition to these risks, many women admit they use alcohol to avoid confronting underlying psychological stresses and illness. But alcohol is not a cure, it only delays these feelings and often when the morning light comes, brings along feelings of deep shame and failure. How many of you have ever woken up after a night of heavy drinking and felt better for it? Memes, advertisements, and making jokes about women drinking only serves to normalize binge drinking and desensitize us to its constant presence in our lives. Maybe it’s time we ask ourselves whether hitting share to get a few likes or laughs is worth our health and our lives.