What I want to talk about is somewhat controversial, in that it stirs up strong feelings in people. Some feel judged, some are frightened by the similarities they might be reading about, some will welcome the idea and support the change. 

I want to talk about a huge problem in our community and frankly in our country that effects men and women, but I want to focus on women for the moment because that is where my personal connection lies.

If you read my column regularly, you know that I’m an alcoholic who got sober almost two years ago. July 1 will mark my two-year anniversary of giving up alcohol. Personally, I’m not against alcohol consumption in moderation. Moderate drinking is not something that was ever in my wheelhouse. I abused alcohol from the of 13, then had years where I didn’t drink at all. I either average a bottle of wine a day or I don’t drink at all. This is not how it is for everyone, but that is me and is why I don’t drink.

My beef is with a culture that I contributed to in our community. It honestly sickens me to know I promoted the lifestyle, lived it and saw nothing wrong with it at the time. I didn’t create it, and despite what I say or do, it will probably continue.

We live in a society fueled by a marketing machine that tells us women need alcohol to get by. There are shirts, hats, memes galore that tell women the solution is wine. It is a culture that not only enables alcohol abuse in women, but encourages it.

Hard day with the kids? Wine is mommy’s juice! What time is it? It’s wine-o-clock. We are doing the job of the alcohol companies by further promoting a lifestyle centered around alcohol as the solution to what ills us by wearing or sharing these ideas.

We had a local mom get a DWI after dropping her kids at school not long ago. Yes, that is an extreme, but it is a symptom of a much bigger problem. It’s possible to enjoy alcohol in moderation, without adding to the marketing machine that tells us we need it, or that it’s the solution to our problems. Especially for women.

Excessive alcohol use in women can result in:

  • Liver disease — the risk is higher in women than in men.
  • Impact on the brain — excessive drinking can result in shrinkage of the brain and memory loss. Research shows women are at a higher risk of brain damage than men from excessive alcohol.
  • Women who drink excessively are at an increased risk for heart damage.
  • Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer in women, including breast cancer.

This is information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These are known facts. Yet, we as a society tell women at every turn to drink up and life becomes more tolerable. Relaxation has become synonymous with alcohol consumption. This is a lie we have been fed and are regurgitating back like sheep being led to slaughter.

We are being marketed into an early grave ladies! We are providing free advertising for alcohol companies when we wear items or buy items that promote this lifestyle. I’m saying it’s possible to enjoy your alcohol in moderation, while not also promoting a message of alcohol as the solution.

Not everyone is an alcoholic, I know this. What we have lost sight of is that non-alcoholics are at risk if they drink excessively as well. Four or more drinks for a woman during a single occasion is considered binge drinking. Eight or more drinks a week is considered heavy drinking by the CDC. You don’t need to do it every day to cause damage. This isn’t my opinion. Go to www.cdc.gov and read up about what it has to say about it.

What message are we sending to our daughters when we wear shirts that say, “Move over coffee, this is a job for alcohol”? I actually owned that shirt. We have normalized excessive drinking for women. We have created a socially acceptable loop hole to disguise a behavior that is killing women.

I’m not saying you should quit drinking if you can do so in moderation, without increasing your health risks. I’m asking that retailers and we as individual women stand up and say no to promoting alcohol as the solution. Say no to normalizing excessive drinking. Stop making it socially acceptable.

It’s socially acceptable to go to a fundraiser for breast cancer and consume four or more glasses of wine, if you aren’t driving. Yet, that is binge drinking and you are increasing your odds of getting breast cancer. Do you see how ridiculous we have gotten with this?

Exercise and eat organic to stave off heart disease, but go have more than eight drinks a week, which is considered heavy drinking and can increase your chances of heart disease. This infuriates me. I get it, sometimes these cute T-shirts and mugs with these messages are funny. As a society, we also once saw and promoted cigarettes as being glamourous.

We know better so we need to do better. Enjoy your alcohol in moderation. Stop funding the message that women need it to get through the day. If you need it to get through the day, that is called alcohol dependence and it is something you need help with, not something to glamorize or normalize.

You can learn more about Natalie Webster and her adventures in the Lake Minnetonka area at WebsterEffect.com.

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