and writer, became a blogging sensation with her humorous take on combatting the stresses of motherhood with drinking. Her online site, “Make Mine a Double: Tales of Twins and Tequila” and popular books, “Sippy Cups are NOT for Chardonnay” and “Nap Time Is the New Happy Hour” put her on the bestseller list. However, Taylor eventu- ally publicly declared herself addicted to alcohol and quit drinking, then documented the social exclusion she experienced when other moms real- ized she was not drinking along with them. It is no surprise that marketing of wine to women has skyrocketed. In the l960s and ‘70s, California wine companies began focusing their sales pitches on women, often times in the supermarkets where wine was sold and women were the predominant shoppers. In recent years, new labels like Mad Housewife, Girls Night Out, Fling and Mommyjuice specifically target women. Marketing messages encourage women to drink wine to give themselves a much needed break, to help them feel sexy, and to enforce the supposition that women are hard-working, well- intentioned, all-knowing creatures who never stop giving to others. One tag line from a California winery reads, “Because we are moms, we can answer all your questions before you ask them.” The alluring labels have been remarkably successful. The United States is closing the gap with the French in the per capita consumption of wine, and women now purchase two thirds of all the wine sold in America. As consumption has increased, so have studies which indicate that drinking wine in moderation can be good for your health. “Although the research remains inconclusive, it now appears that a moderate amount of drinking of any alcohol, not just wine, can reduce cardiovascular disease, but no one would suggest you should drink to improve your health,” says Dr. Howard Forman, an addiction psychia- trist on the faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Debra Jay is a nationally recognized addiction counselor and interven- tionist from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. She has been a frequent
who deal with tremendous amounts of stress. “Many of my clients are young, high-achieving professional women who are accustomed to excelling in all do- mains of life.This is NewYork. Many people come here not to be the best they can be, but to be the best there is. That is a lot of pressure and unfortunately, while alcohol may at first seem like a solution, it almost never is.” Stress also affects older women, although their drinking patterns may be different. Young women tend to be more at risk for binge drinking, which is defined as more than four glasses of alcohol within two hours, while older women in their forties and fifties tend to drink more moderate amounts of alcohol but consume daily. Problems may arise when women who have started with one or two glasses of wine a day gradually become more tolerant of the alcohol, and increase consumption to two or three or more a day to feel the same effects. “Women at that age tend to spend a lot more time together with their spouses in what are supposed to be the golden years,” explains Dr. Forman. “For some, however, it’s not exactly gold, but more like char- coal. Relationships that used to contain a lot of separation now have less space, and there are no children to create a uniting experience. The relationship lacks the same anchors. Even the happiest things, like retire- ment, can be most stressful. I ask my patients if they are responding to the changes in their lives by drinking more. “ The burdens born by women of this age can be quite overwhelming. “Some women can be responsible for four generations. A woman can be dealing with a sick and aging parent, a spouse who requires her at- tention, a twenty-or thirty something child, and even grandchildren she would like to help care for. As a result of gains in women’s freedoms, she might have a job on top of that. The resulting stress is higher than ever.” So, how much alcohol is too much? First of all, experts agree, there is no distinction to be made between types of alcohol. There is no good and bad alcohol. Wine is not “just wine.”
MARKETING MESSAGES ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO DRINK WINE TO GIVE THEMSELVES A MUCH NEEDED BREAK, TO HELP THEM FEEL SEXY, AND TO ENFORCE THE SUPPOSITION THAT WOMEN ARE HARD-WORKING, WELL-INTENTIONED, ALL-KNOWING CREATURES WHO NEVER STOP GIVING TO OTHERS.
guest on the Oprah Winfrey talk show, and is the author of “It Takes A Family.” She says many health studies are touted by marketing companies to sell wine, with no regard to the potential negative impact. “We are bom- barded with marketing messages that say that drinking wine helps you chill out, that you’ve earned this glass at the end of the day, that the traffic was bad today, that drinking is sexy and social, and that getting blitzed is the norm. When you combine these messages with the supposition that drink- ing alcohol is good for your health, you have the perfect storm.” Young women in particular are very affected by social media and branding, says Jay. “They see commercials that portray wine as glamor- ous or present designer bags as fashion essentials. But this is not buying a designer bag. When you drink, you put toxins in your body on a regular basis. We are changing the social norms, and it is not okay.” Dr. Forman sees many young professional women in his New York practice
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol- ism, one standard drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of regular beer, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Moderate alcohol consumption for a woman is considered to be seven drinks a week. For a man, the standard is two drinks daily. But in today’s “supersize me” world, it is clear that bigger goblets create bigger problems. One “glass” of wine could easily contain three standard servings of alcohol, a fact that many may choose to ignore, especially once they start drinking. Gabrielle Glaser, an award-winning journalist and author of “Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink–And How they Can Regain Control,” says women are more vulnerable than men to the toxic ef- fect of alcohol. “Their bodies have more fat, which retains alco- hol, and less water, which dilutes it, so women drinking the same
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