Have you seen the memes pairing motherhood and alcohol? With phrases such as,
Since FAS was first named in 1973 there have been ongoing efforts directed at prevention. While turning to alcohol to celebrate or as a coping mechanism is not new, over the last 10 years a new segment of the population has emerged on social media: wine moms.
If you search the hashtag #winemom, or variations of it, on Instagram you will get over 84,000 hits. Should this be a concern?
Our two guests today – Dr. Kelly Harding and Lisa Whittingham – wanted to take a closer look and are here today to talk about what they discovered.
Dr. Kelly Harding received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Rural and Northern Health from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Harding is a Research Associate with the Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network (CanFASD). Dr. Harding is also an adjunct faculty in the Psychology Department at Laurentian University. Dr. Harding has been involved in the field of FASD since 2010, predominantly through research and working with families raising children with FASD.
Lisa Whittingham is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. She completed both her undergraduate degree in Psychology and her M.A. in Applied Disability Studies from Brock University. Her research interests focus on the interactions of persons labelled as vulnerable with the criminal justice system. She is also interested in supports and interventions for persons with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Lisa has been active in the field of developmental disabilities for over 15 years
My heart lies with prevention. Some of what I’ve been doing lately is around media. That is really what led to this interest in understanding wine mom culture and how that links with FASD Prevention. – Dr. K. Harding
What's a wine mom? In general, a wine mom is someone who likes to take the edge off parenting with alcohol - usually a glass of wine. A new culture of humour has developed on social media around it. Lisa, Kelly and I talk about what their research discovered:
This is worthy of more explanation from a research point of view. We need to understand what we are looking at, but also it speaks to a lot of policy needs. FASD but also advocacy around other social determinants of health which have fallen by the wayside. Dr. Lisa Whittingham
Kelly and Lisa provide their thoughts on the “supermom” culture, the normalization and commodification of alcohol and how the pandemic has led to an increase in the #winemom culture and rise in alcohol consumption. They also give tips on how to respond when you see a friend or family member posting a #winemom meme.
All is not bleak. In the same hashtag, we see people celebrating sobriety. Former wine moms are vocal about the culture, which has seen the rise of social influencers who refer to themselves as “winepreneurs” and wine experts. There are no easy answers. But as Lisa and Kelly point out, bringing this to the light means it can be addressed.
One thing we do know, if someone is a #winemom or drinking for another reason, women need information and support, not judgement. I’m looking forward to Dr. Harding’s further research.
If you are concerned about your alcohol use, please talk to a trusted friend, your doctor or search for an alcohol helpline in your country.