Emily Lynn Paulson drank in college and after she graduated, but it wasn’t until she became a mom that she really went all in.
“You’d think that wouldn’t be the case,” Paulson, a mother of five, told HuffPost. “But everything seemed to have wine added to it. There were playdates with wine. Every mommy get-together had wine. … I had that T-shirt that said ‘Prosecco made me do it.’”
“It was almost like, how can you survive motherhood without this substance,” Paulson said.
Mommy wine culture has been raging for years, with funny memes, cutesy apparel and tchotchkes peddled on Etsy and Amazon, and Facebook groups galore (Mommy Needs Wine, Mommy Needs Some Wine, Mommy Wine Time, etc.). In those circles it’s not just alcohol ― it’s mom juice. Mom fuel. It’s an easy and much-needed way for women to eke out some time to relax while doing the relentless work of raising young kids. And the alcohol industry has definitely taken notice, marketing directly to women.
But some of mommy wine culture’s biggest proponents are now sounding the alarm, arguing that the normalization of wine culture isn’t so much giving women an outlet for self-care as it’s potentially harming their health.
On a broader level, America certainly appears to have a bit of an alcohol problem. A new study, published in January in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, found that alcohol-related deaths in the United States doubled between 1999 and 2007 — with the largest increase among non-Hispanic white women. And a 2017 study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that problem drinking, defined as drinking to the point where it interferes with your life or you are unable to stop, jumped by more than 80% among American women between 2002 and 2013.
Although there is no evidence that the flowering of mommy wine culture is directly fueling that trend, findings like that tend to undermine the idea that drinking alcohol is something one does to take care of oneself. For years, we’ve been told that moderate drinking may — may — confer some health benefits. But there’s just as much evidence to suggest the opposite.
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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders or funders.