Ellen, That’s Just Not Funny.

Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Ellen Degeneres. In fact, I taped her “coming out” episode back in 1997 and watched it until I could essentially recite every line (fortunately, for me, my roommate was also a fan) and I fist bumped the TV every single time it got to that scene where she accidentally speaks into the microphone at the airport and tells Susan–and the world– “I’m gay, ay, ay ay…”

My heart ached when her show was cancelled, knowing somehow that it had to do with her admission; her truth. And although I admit to all-but-forgetting about Ellen while she was out of the spotlight, I was elated when she reappeared with gusto, dancing her way to the top of the ratings with her daytime talk show, Ellen.

I find her positively hilarious. And kind. And real.

But, recently, she shared a video that was….well….just not funny to me. And even if I could set my sobriety filter aside, I STILL find it un-funny and, honestly, sad. It physically hurts me to know how many women are struggling with their relationship with alcohol and how much the media makes them feel like they need it to cope with life and kids and work and all the things.

It hurts because this was me for so long (minus the kids) where I felt like alcohol was the only way for me to pat myself on the back for a job well done, which could be anything from landing a client to doing the grocery shopping to, you know, waking up and going to work any given Tuesday or anything else in between because…life!!

The relationship between women and alcohol was extensively researched by my friend and mentor, Ann Dowsett-Johnston in her groundbreaking work, Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. We learned that women are targeted differently by the media than men and we learned that women are trying to keep up with men in many ways–including the way we drink.

We’ve become desensitized to the issue because memes and posts about “wine o’clock” and “mommy juice” have become cute excuses for the way we relieve the stress we feel from being a woman with kids and spouses and houses and careers. And even though Ellen’s wife, Portia De Rossi, checked into rehab in 2014 to deal with her alcohol addiction, Ellen still jokes about drinking and drunkenness and how we all deserve it.

But women are struggling.

They are losing what they hold most dear. They are losing out on so much of their lives and they are, quite frankly, losing their lives.

So I wanted to share the video and I wanted to post the comments of one of my favourite teachers, Holly Whitaker, on the topic. Because her words are perfect. And we need to open our eyes to what’s happening if we ever stand a chance at doing something about the problem. Watch the video and then read Holly’s words:

 

Here are Holly’s words:

We all know about the opiate crisis here in America, right? It killed 64,070 lives in 2016.


Take that number, then add in all the other drug related deaths, and you still don't have the number of deaths that are associated with alcohol.



Alcohol will kill 1 in 10 American's aged 20-64 this year. 1 in 10. It's the third leading cause of preventable death. It kills over 3 million people world-wide annually - someone dies every 10 seconds from it.


Now I want to ask, if alcohol is a more dangerous drug to us than opiates are, which is horrifying, how is it that a video like this gets made by Ellen DeGeneres? How are we living in a society that makes light of a drug that kills as many people as it does?


Can we just for a minute imagine what would happen if Ellen put out a video about kids talking about their parent's heroin or cocaine or even pot use - and Kristen Bell goes "your mommy sounds like fun!" Like, can we please just imagine what our reaction to that might be?


How is this different? How can we not see this?


---


Now, notice how we are talking about mom's here? Not dads but moms? See that?


In the last 10 years, high-risk drinking increased 60% among women, and alcohol use disorder nearly doubled. That's right - in ten years, we doubled the amount of alcohol addiction among women. (2017 JAMA study). Which means: those little girls in that video - OUR DAUGHTERS - are now twice as likely to end up addicted to alcohol than we were. The rates for men were significantly less - we're not only catching up with them but we're on target to surpass them entirely.


The amount of Rose commercials that get shoved down our throats, greeting cards that make jokes of the NECESSITY and IMPORTANCE of alcohol to women, pink Jack Daniels, Rose All Day clothing, Cosmo ads that show a woman storing wine in her bra/vagina/shoes, @goop’s Collagen Martini (health!), how blase we are about "our need to have a drink," boozy book clubs and effing mommy juice, the mockery we make of our consumption of a drug - the ALL OUT MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO SELL WOMEN A LIFESTYLE THAT IS CENTERED AROUND BOOZE - it’s paying off.


This video is the perfect example of that. It's a PSA for the alcohol industry courtesy of the Ellen DeGeneres show, a nail in our coffins. Thank you, Ellen.


To all of my women out there, please hear me on this:


Other women, young girls, YOUR DAUGHTERS - they are watching you. And they are now twice as likely to end up in rehab. So when you go to buy that greeting card that makes light of booze, or repost that cute little Ellen video where some chick's daughter exposes her drug addiction and we call her fun, please think twice. You are not only making a joke about something that is killing us, you're not only normalizing addiction, you're also modeling drug use to the next generation of women. And they need so much more from us.


I don't accept this. And absolutely none of us should.





Below the video, on Twitter, Ellen’s comment is “All the moms I know deserve wine”.

And while I GET what Ellen’s saying (that being a mom is harrrdd and busy and stressful and all the things that are TRUE), what I also hear is that moms shouldn’t worry if they drink because all the other moms are doing it. It’s completely socially acceptable and beyond that, it’s normal and it’s cool and it’s condoned.

It also begs the question, “Do all women with kids believe that being a mom is so awful that the only way to escape the awful-ness is to drink it away?” I don’t believe so. I believe many moms have created healthier coping strategies to being a mother and, in fact, what we know for sure is that moms who get sober and go on to find healthier ways to cope with stress (like meditation, exercise, creating schedules and all sorts of other strategies) find life to be far less stressful than when they were trying to manage their drinking.

Now before you get mad, I want to remind you that I am never, ever condemning people for drinking. Ever. I drank for YEARS and while I became dependent on it, not everyone does. And I KNOW that. I GET that. And there is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine now and again. But in this crazy, alcohol-fueled world, women are being told that we deserve it, that we need it and that if we DON’T do it, then we are not like the rest and we are not welcome as members of the club. And if there is one thing I know about women, in particular, it is that we need to feel accepted; part of something; included.

It’s hard to feel ostracized, and I hear from a LOT of women who truly believe they just need to figure out how to make it work that they can still drink but not have it ruin their lives. They see not being able to manage alcohol as a moral failing, which adds to their need to drink in order to quell those voices. Many women look tirelessly for that “third door” that my friend and teacher Laura McKowen speaks so eloquently about. The one where we can still drink but not have it be a thing.

But that third door doesn’t exist.

Not for those of us who can’t have a glass of wine. And I am sick of the world making women feel like less because they can’t keep up. Every single day, memes and posts about “wine o”clock” and “mommy juice” litter my feed and, frankly, I am growing really tired of it.

You see, what we don’t realize is that the people who suffer are not only the women struggling with the alcohol; it’s also their children. When Kristen Bell tells the kids that their moms drink “to take care of you animals”, my heart breaks a little because a) it’s a lie, and b) what kind of message are kids receiving when they hear that?!

I’ll tell you the kind of message they are receiving….this one. I won’t spoil it because Katie Bickell’s words are perfection. But THIS is what our children hear when we tell them we drink because of them. They hear that they are bad. And that they must be a problem. And that it is their fault that mommy drinks.

And I don’t want one more mom–or any woman for that matter–to believe that there is something wrong with them because they can’t keep up or because wine has taken up too big a place in their lives or they feel their self-esteem go down the toilet because they “just can’t get [their] sh*t together”.

And I don’t want one more child to feel like this is their problem, either.

So let’s keep opening our eyes to what’s being sold to us. The lies that are forced down our throats along with the Chardonnay. Because if we want to help ourselves and our children to feel whole and worthy and strong and powerful, then we’ve got to remember that alcohol doesn’t give us any of it; we had it all along.

We just need to remember.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. If you’d like to read more, here is another article highlighting the problem.

 

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