The Conversation: #WineMom: Humour and empowerment or binge drinking and mental health challenges?


  1. Kelly D. Harding Adjunct Professor, Psychology, Laurentian University
  2. Lisa M Whittingham PhD Candidate, Department of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University

If you Google the term “wine mom,” you’ll find an array of comedic returns, including countless memes of celebrities like Julia Louis-Dreyfus maniacally waving a bottle of wine or Amy Schumer drinking from an oversized glass, or numbered lists pointing to “signs you might be a wine mom.”

You’ll also find popular media articles highlighting that while this trope initially appears to be harmless fun, it also alludes to a darker underside of modern motherhood.

As fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) prevention researchers, we are increasingly interested in the growing popularity of this phenomenon and its portrayal on social media.

A wine mom is a mother who drinks wine to take the edge off daily tasks associated with motherhood. While the use of substances to cope with challenges is not new (like “mother’s little helper”), the term wine mom became popular in the mid-2010s when mothers began to self-identify and joke online about drinking wine to cope with the stresses of modern motherhood. This self-identification helped women to generate social connections (though perhaps superficially) with other mothers in online spaces.

Meme of woman pouring wine into measuring cup, caption reads 'when the laundry is piling up, there are dishes in the sink, kids are fighting and dinner isn't made but I'm like'
Women are described as ‘good mothers’ when they exhibit behaviours with being a doting caregiver. (MyKidsButler/Instagram)

#WineMom fights back against the picture of a “good mother”

What constitutes motherhood is a collection of behaviours and values that women embody, which are often influenced by social and cultural norms.

Women are described as “good mothers” when they exhibit behaviours associated with being a doting caregiver, having an immaculate home and engaging in flawless self-care. Women who fail to achieve these high standards run the risk of being characterized as “bad mothers” and being shamed or ostracized.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ‘FASD Prevention Conversation, A Shared Responsibility Project’, its stakeholders, and/or funder

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