#075 Wine Mom Culture and FASD Prevention

fasd success show Aug 08, 2021

Have you seen the memes pairing motherhood and alcohol? With phrases such as, 

  • Some people need a special occasion to have wine. I just needed to have a kid.  
  • What wine pairs well with my kids driving me absolutely insane? 
  • Mom tip: When they start to whine, open the bottle of wine. 

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: 

  • The types of posts, what they portray and the difference between pictures portrayed and descriptions posted with the pictures.
  • Who in general the wine mom culture is, why they organized and what that means for those not part of it. 
  • Beyond humour and connection, what are the consequences and darker side of wine mom culture? 

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. 

Show Notes: 

Article Summary: Conceptualizing #winemoms in social media - CanFASD 

 #WineMoms: Humour and Empowerment or Binge Drinking and Mental Health Challenges? - YouTube 

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.

Australian Alcohol and Drug Information Service - 1800 250 015

Addictions Treatment Helplines in Canada

SAMHSA’s National Helpline USA: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)


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