‘Binge drinking has become completely normalized’: Has boozy mom culture gone too far?


  • By Kate Thayer Chicago Tribune (TNS)

Social media feeds are rife with memes depicting exhausted women guzzling wine in giant glasses, with phrases like, “Technically, you’re not drinking alone if your kids are home.” They refer to wine as “mommy juice” or to the hour of “wine o’clock” — a time that all moms apparently look forward to as a way to get through the stress of raising their children.

From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to movies and store shelves, a ubiquitous narrative has taken hold in popular culture: that it’s acceptable, expected and funny for moms to use a glass — or more — of wine to make it through the day. Yet while many women share these images in jest and don’t have a problem, addiction experts and those who have battled addiction themselves say the trend minimizes the dangers of drinking to excess.

“Mommy’s wine has become a pop culture trend, a marketer’s dream and a hashtag,” said Dr. Crystal Tennille Clark, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine who specializes in women’s health. “I do think we’re losing sight of what a problem (drinking) could be. Many people, whether they’re men or women, don’t appreciate the risks of drinking.”

Hollywood perpetuates the storyline, and celebrities embrace it. Trips to the movie theater to see “Bad Moms” and its sequel, which celebrated boozy mom culture, were common “moms night out” gatherings. Gabrielle Union’s recent book of personal essays is titled “We’re Going to Need More Wine,” and Kelly Clarkson hosts an Instagram video series called “Minute and a Glass of Wine.”
Marketers also are capitalizing on the trend, targeting mothers with products like dish towels and home decor featuring similar sayings. There are even brands of wine with “mommy” in their names.
But for those who have battled addiction, pop culture’s fascination with moms and wine is no laughing matter.

Kelley Kitley was a seemingly successful wife and mother of four in Oak Park, Ill., who had her own social work practice and ran marathons.

She also was an alcoholic.

After a childhood growing up above her parents’ bar in Lincoln Park, where she had a front-row seat to others’ excessive drinking, she pledged to never have a problem herself. Over the years, she would give up drinking for long stretches during her pregnancies, for Lent or just to see if she could.

But Kitley’s occasional, social binge drinking eventually turned into a bottle-of-wine-a-day habit.

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