Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Women and Alcohol - a Deadly Relationship

Day 66. I have been reading the most amazing book - Drink, by Ann Dowsett Johnston. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The subtitle of the book is 'The Deadly Relationship Between Women and Alcohol,' and it examines why more women than ever before are drinking too much.

Dowsett Johnston argues that, in many ways, alcohol is the new tobacco. In the same way that the tobacco industry started to deliberately target women once the male market was saturated, so - in the 1990s - the alcohol manufacturers began to do the same.

The alcohol industry, she argues, 'is conspiring to drip-feed us the notion that cocktails will deliver us happy endings, rescuing us from the great modern scourges of loneliness, exhaustion and boredom.'

In her home country of Canada, Dowsett Johnston remembers the launch of brands with names like French Rabbit, Girl's Night Out Wines and Mommy Juice. The fastest growing spirits line in the US in 2012 was the Skinnygirl Cocktail range with their ad-line 'Drink Like a Lady.'

In the UK - which Ann describes beautifully as 'the Linsday Lohan' of the western world - Diageo launched Smirnoff Ice in 1999, targeted at young women, which quickly became the number one alcopop.

And, in addition to all the advertising and marketing, we had Sex in the City, with Carrie Bradshaw selling us a dream floating on a sea of Cosmopolitans, and Bridget Jones with her endless Chardonnays and her fairy-tale ending.

Somehow, alcohol became inextricably entwined with women's liberation.  Alcohol could, we were told, make us feel more confident, more relaxed, more sociable and more desirable. And, of course, it did seem to live up to the promise - for many years - until, suddenly, it didn't. We discovered that everything we thought alcohol was giving us it was actually taking away, drip by insidious drip.

So where was I in the 1990s when all this was going on? In advertising. And the awful thing is that as I was reading all of this, I remembered working on a campaign for a major multinational re-launching a wine brand aimed at young, professional women! Did I have any qualms about this? Hell no! I was thrilled. I had, I believed, found a way of combining my work with my favourite hobby.

I spent months around board room tables presenting concepts and mood boards showing sexy, slim, confident women gathered in sociable groups in the sunshine, sipping their wine, tipping their heads back and laughing with abandon.

Did we feature any miserable, middle-aged housewives drinking at home on their own to erase the stress and boredom of their lives? God no! It was all empowerment, freedom, sophistication. I sold the dream, not realising that I'd end up living the nightmare.

Isn't that ironic? When the Goddess of Karma was looking for someone to introduce to the wine witch, what better candidate than me?

Isn't it true, my friends, that what goes around comes around? So now it's pay back time. My mission is to advertise sober. It's up to us to make sober as sexy and desirable as we once thought alcohol was.

Are you with me?

SM x

Related post: Why so many well educated, middle aged women drink too much

16 comments:

  1. this sounds like it would be a great book for all women to read....particularly women in their 20's when we think we can drink the same as men. Which sadly we cannot. On so many levels. I am delighted to see that i have it on my bookshelf from before when i ordered a million books/ memoirs etc on alcohol! sounds like another eye opening account of how alcohol invades every aspect of our lives and what we do. its crazy really....

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    1. Hi Kats! I'm glad to be able to return the favour after you recommended 'a love story' which was fabulous x

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    2. i am currently reading 'the girl on the train' : )

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  2. You know, I've often thought with the proliferation of food blogs, i.e. gluten free, paleo, anti-inflammation and others, why no one has jumped on the platform of being alcohol-free and that being a lifestyle just like all the paleo people (nothing wrong with it, I read about it a lot and there's a lot of things I love about it, i.e. eating as clean as possible). So many food blogs out there about eating clean and yet no one talks about being alcohol free as part of that lifestyle.

    I really need to get these books y'all keep talking about. I'm driving to Mississippi this weekend and could use some books for that long car ride.

    Southern Emily

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    1. Completely agree Emily! Sober def needs rebranding. I'd love to see the Mississippi ;-) x

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  3. Today is all about books. I just came home to an amazon package waiting for me. Eagerly anticipated Jason Vale's Kick the drink Easily. I am looking forward to this. Thank you again SM x

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    1. Please tell me what you think Tallaxo! I wouldn't have quit without Jason Vale! X

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  4. Thanks for the book recommendation. I find that reading and researching about alcohol dependence helps me to stay the course. :) :)

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    1. Me too! It's my latest addiction ;-)

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  5. Loved that book.
    I see too many young ladies being pulled in by the drinking wine is romantic, fun thing.
    I want to yell "stop" but I know people don't hear until they want to.
    xo
    wendy

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    1. So true! I say same thing in today's post! X

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  6. Great post SM. I've heard of this book and would really love to read it. Yes, we do romanticise wine. I have to remind myself that it is a toxic poison and nothing else. Congrats on day 66! A x

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    1. I have seen two books. One is called the 'intimate relationship' whilst the other one is called the 'deadly relationship'. Are they the same book? A x

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    2. Hi Angie! The book is called 'Drink' (deadly relationship is subtitle!). Love SM x

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  7. Yes, everywhere the giant photo of the glass with the condensation and the wine tippling into it invitingly in the window of a horrible seedy little corner shop selling nasty wine for exhorbitant prices, and yet still we're sucked in by the dream. Once it was good, we had a good time, and we search longingly for that feeling again, but it floated away on the sea breeze such a long time ago. There is no correlation with the reality, chugging wine from a hidden bottle in a kitchen cupboard while you make packed lunches and feed the dog before watching a re-run of QI with dinner on your lap. Calamari in Tarragona it is not. God how I miss that though x

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    1. Beautifully said, and so true KT! Love your blog btw. Hugs x

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