Challenging the culture


So I’ve been following this woman called Erin Shaw, she’s started a community called Tell better Stories.

“Tell Better Stories examines lifestyle media and marketing geared toward women, and the messages we constantly see in our feeds and in our lives: that alcohol is the norm, an essential part of “lifestyle.” We’re not prohibitionists, but rather question how we construct messaging in media (including social) and marketing. Since we’re all creators now, how do we create thoughtfully? Our aim is to create conversation and help develop useable guidelines to help tell better stories about alcohol in lifestyle media.”

Find her website here:

So I really love what she’s doing and I started getting involved by adding a hashtag and my view to a meme she flagged to her followers on instagram. The meme in question is the featured image for my post and was posted by the institution that is Scary Mommy who has 1.1 Million followers.

I was really excited about this new outlet and I felt like I was playing a small part in challenging the status quo…like a sober ninja fighting the good fight.  I could not have prepared myself for the shitstorm that broke out on instagram the following morning.

I will spare you the detailed barrage of comments that were thrown around.  Suffice to say the women who follow scary Mommy on instgram were not impressed.

A couple of highlights:

“If a meme threatens your sobriety better go to back AA”

“SOME people are taking this way to seriously I think they need a drink!”

“Don’t be jealous just because we can have a drink and still be epic parents.”

The most upsetting thing though was one woman who felt that we were shaming them. She thought we were coming from a place of holier than through teetotallers who look down on the women who drink.

This totally knocked the wind out of my sails and I had to take a step back.

My intention was to communicate with a brand that is equating drinking with motherhood and normalising the use of a highly addictive drug. The result was a shit-fight between followers of these two institutions and I honestly don’t think the brand Scary Mommy even noticed and even if they did probably didn’t care.

The culture we live is constantly telling women and mothers to DRINK.

We need to drink to…

feel sexy
be naughty
feel like independent women
deal with motherhood
to have another identity besides just being a mom
feel young
be fun
take care of ourselves

I am going to rethink how I can help the cause without making other women feel ashamed. I do not judge anyone who drinks. How can I? If you drink moderately more power to you, if you are drinking addictively you are self-medicating as I did for the best part of 20 years probably more (I’m too tired to count)

I am questioning the ‘mommy needs wine culture because it has a lot to answer for. So many women are stuck in addiction and they will remain stuck for many more years because they can hide comfortably behind these memes. I did! I couldn’t believe there were other moms who drank like me! I was so relieved because I thought if they are all doing it must be ok. It’s not fucking ok! We are losing ourselves to this drug.

The indoctrination can be subtle but mostly its pretty much in your face. Here are a couple of examples of memes in case you haven’t seen them:

Adding a hash tag to memes asking the brands posting them to “#tell better stories” may not be the way to go for me. I like what Erin is doing but I feel that the women who are stuck in addiction can look at those comments on social media and feel judged or they will quite rightly feel outraged. Like we are trying to tell them what to do! My beef is not with the drinkers but with the brands and the alcohol companies…

Follow the money because someone is getting very rich and it suits the patriarchy down to the ground to keep women drunk & submissive!

As for the sober ninja…I’ve approached several brands directly by post and email and I think I will keep doing that for now. In some small way my voice is objecting…even if no one is listening. Challening an ‘idea’ like mom wine culture has to be done at the people in power not the people participating in it.



21 thoughts on “Challenging the culture

  1. I so agree with you! And the alcohol companies start targeting women in their college years, as if getting inebriated isn’t dangerous for young women. (Any woman, actually.) How can they be so out of touch with the Me Too movement?

    Plus, lots of cool Mommy drinking bloggers then had to write sober memoirs. Stephanie Wilder-Taylor is one lady who used to go on TV to defend parental drinking. Not anymore.

    And don’t feel bad about the crazy comments you got. I had a Twitter account for about 15 minutes, and I tweeted out about the sober January program. Total strangers took the time to send me nasty responses. I think they doth protest too much.

    Thanks for the post!!! 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I see a lot of that happening online and sometimes get caught up in it. I think a lot of the shit storm is created by people who feel threatened in their lifestyle, who feel their drinking attitude is being attacked. The fact that they react like this already proves they have gone too far in their attachment to drinking. They would not even bother to react if it were about oranges or hazelnuts. It is crazy out there.
    I have, just for fun, set up an half open Facebook group on a random subject. The idiocy I encounter on a daily base is baffling. Good thing that I am the moderator and the rules say that if I don’t like the content or the tone I chuck people out. So far I have chucked out 3 of 150 people in 2 months.
    Not sure social media is a safe environment for anybody. If I would have kids I would set up serious talks with serious examples. I actually feel that social media has a lot in common with alcohol. Addictive, depressing, destructive, unreal…. not there yet in finding out what to do with it.
    Sending hugs,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I recently commented on a Yoga and wine night planned at a local rec centre.
    I got some aggressive replies. I don’t care. Anyone who feels the need to defend their wine during yoga needs to stop and think.

    Those of us who know better need to make it a viable alternative.

    Hugs and love.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I appreciate knowing about Tell Better Stories. Thanks for your reflections here. I just wanted to note that other people being “made to feel X” is about them. That’s not to say that it’s not fine to observe what other people feel and make a choice to stop doing some thing that preceded it. But it can also be a fine thing to keep doing the thing and let them deal with their shit/stuff/whatever. This whole new culture of stuff such as the images you posted makes me sad and crazy — those magnets, tshirts, etc., had an effect on me in normalizing alcohol, and I’m not even a mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s crazy. I am proud of you for trying to make a difference! I have several nieces I know buy into the drinking mom stuff from, the T-shirts and all. One of them definitely has had some problems in the past.
    You are so right… follow the money.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love Tell Better Stories. I love the work Erin is doing, calling out businesses who use drinking as a marketing tool. Especially health and wellness sites. Instagram is full of wine memes, it’s crap, it’s not funny and lots of us just don’t need that in our feeds constantly. Tell Better Stories has helped me so much this year, I can finally read between the lines and see the marketing for what it really is. I think if I was still drinking and struggling I would love to see people calling out this sort of thing. I think it helps others know they are not alone. As much as some might argue back and defend their precious glass of wine there will be other people reading these comments and thinking “thank god I’m not the only one”. They are the ones that matter, the one small glass of wine people will never get it, it’s not for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Should we choose to move in our recovery toward some type of service, I believe there are as many ways to approach it as there are ways to approach recovery.
    I think you were courageous to “dip your toe in” with your recent actions AND to keep trying something new – like contacting brands or companies directly – until you find your own sweet spot, Brave Ninja!
    Thank you for sharing Erin Shaw’s website. It is a great and interesting resource.
    Thanks also for sharing your experiences. As always, the best way to remain strong in recovery is to connect! Your post and the inspiring comments prove this truth. =)

    Liked by 1 person

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