Women-Biased Alcohol Advertising

Today, 8th March 2021, is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all those wonderful achievements and progress that has been made in society, culture and politics to bring gender equality to the fore. For me, its also a day to question some of the things that remain to be done and to challenge some of the women- biased alcohol advertising that I’ve watched build over the last couple of decades. Particularly the idea that women are drinking more today because alcohol advertising has been targeting us.

The alcohol industry realised some years ago that there was a big gap in its market – the ladies out there weren’t drinking enough. Think back to your childhood – how often did you see groups of women out drinking copious amounts? Or drinking home alone at 6pm? I’m of a certain age where I grew up without knowing that Prosecco even existed! Yet somehow, every birthday, every celebration from becoming pregnant to passing your 90th birthday now seems to revolve around ‘the fizz’. Have a think – what do you now see all over birthday cards? When was the last time you went to a mini-celebration and there wasn’t any free-flowing booze?

Of course, Prosecco isn’t the only drink being pushed as a reward for ladies by any means. Think pink, feminine, trendy cocktails in a tin, add some flavouring and colours to beers and spirits especially. There’s a whole industry appeared for drinks, cards and funny meme goods around ‘mummy’s wine o’clock’, and ‘gin o’clock’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a party pooper. But I do know that the reason there’s more women struggling with alcohol related issues today, and I don’t believe that it’s happened by accident.

A lot of the marketing of alcohol targeted at women shows us as needing some kind of alcohol as a bonding mechanism, a power tool, or that we can’t relax without it – other rewards could never be good enough. Pictures of the destressing mum, a group of young women getting together, or sophisticated female execs drinking cocktails together after work. When did we ever need alcohol to shore up our lives before? Is this really how we want women to be viewed? How we want our daughters to think as they grow up?

Women have caught up with Men’s Drinking

Women seem to have caught up with men in the amounts that they drink. Both binge drinking and regular habitual drinking. And that really isn’t the type of equality that we need. Biologically speaking, we’re not designed to cope with the same quantities of alcohol that men can – it’s a scientific fact. Scientific data generally indicates that the same amounts of alcohol drunk by women has a greater physical effect than it has on men. And women tend to develop more severe alcohol problems than men over shorter drinking histories. And yet this knowledge seems to have got lost beneath the glitz. Current guidelines suggest 14 units of alcohol per week is the safest level, which equates to about 1½  bottles of wine.

More and more women are coming to realise that the shine wine once held – as a reward for getting through the work day, or getting the kids into bed, is no longer there. It doesn’t make the evening any better, and it certainly doesn’t make the morning any better either. Poor sleep, the anxiety that comes with the regret from drinking too much, let alone the physical dehydration! And yet the advertising keeps telling us that it’s a deserved treat to start drinking at 5 or 6pm…..

Women have always supported each other. So my challenge to you today is to ask yourself ‘Why?’ The next time you rush to open that bottle or pour that drink, is it because that’s really the only thing that can reward you or relax you? Is it you that’s decided it’s ok to drink earlier than you used to, or has it grown with the messages form the alcohol industry that you’ve seen grow and grow over the years?

What do you really want? Some social contact, are you just wanting to think about something else? At the end of the day it’s about having a choice.  When you’ve drunk habitually for many years like I did, you might suddenly realise that you don’t seem to have that choice any more. That it’s got a lot harder to stop than you thought. You can read up on my story here.

Support To Take a Break from Drinking

If any of this resonates with you, there are different ways that you can get support to stop drinking. Alcoholchange.org is a good place to get further information on different routes.  If you feel you would benefit from a more personal approach, I offer women 1:1 coaching and support to take a break from drinking. Working with me, an Addictive Behaviours Coach and an NLP Practitioner, you benefit from tools and strategies that will move you from being stuck where you are. Not only will you get better mental and physical health, sleep, and energy, you’ll regain control over your choice of whether to drink, so that you restore your sense of self, and get back your freedom.

I would love to work with you through Coaching and NLP techniques to help you make better choices in your relationship with alcohol an beyond. So that you get free to choose who you want to be, and do more of the things that you really want to do.

If any of the above gets you thinking that maybe it’s time to rethink your current habits, then drop me a message or email me now at anne@discoveringsobriety.com to set up a free discovery call over a virtual cuppa! ☕

By the way, don’t just take my word for it, check out the testimonials on this link to my ANLP Profile.