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Drinking Glamorously or Glamourized Drinking?

This article was written by the Substance Use Team—part of the Peer Health Educator Program at Queen’s. The members who wrote this post include: Crystal Sau, Nursing’20, Sydney DesBrisay, Artsci’22, Kanav Arora, Life Sciences’22, Marco Buttigieg, Health Sci’23, and Chelsea Publow, Artsci’23. We hope you enjoy!


Alcohol consumption is an anticipated activity for many university students. However, alcohol advertising often glamorizes drinking and can make you feel that you need to drink more than actually you should.


Glamourized drinking began in the ’60s with the women’s liberation movement. The tobacco industry used female-targeted marketing to increase sales through the exploitation of women’s aspirations for freedom and choice. Today, the alcohol sector uses similar strategies that convey messages of sisterhood, friendship, and relaxation. Examples include Wine Wednesdays, fruit-flavoured beers, low-calorie drinks, pink packaging, and pastel-coloured cocktails. Can you think of a recent advertisement that used these strategies? I know we can. Although anyone can have these drinks, such advertising practices have contributed to the increase and normalization of binge drinking among female-identified people.


Those who are biologically female or have a smaller body size typically become more intoxicated from the same amount of alcohol than biological males or people with larger bodies and often reach the level of binge drinking faster. One way to measure the amount of alcohol in the body is something called Blood alcohol concentration (BAC). BAC is a more accurate gauge of inebriation over the number of drinks consumed because alcohol absorption and metabolism rates vary.


Judgment and reaction speed are impaired at a BAC of .05 or .06 and above. Staying below this level is known as the BAC “pleasure zone” which optimizes the positive effects of alcohol while minimizing negative outcomes.


Tips to stay in the pleasure zone:


  • Eat before and while drinking,

  • Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs (including caffeine and prescription drugs),

  • Pace your drinking – have no more than 1 drink per hour,

  • Sip only, try not to chug,

  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soda, and

  • Be cautious when sick or tired as alcohol leaves the body more slowly.

  • Glamourized alcohol advertising generally targets female-identifying populations, but they are not the only ones affected. University students are especially impressionable as they reach the legal drinking age and perceive their peers taking part in drinking activities. Be mindful of these influences, find your drinking “pleasure zone,” and stay safe!


References

Cornell Health. (2019). Why biology matters when it comes to drinking alcohol.

[PDF]. Retrieved from, https://health.cornell.edu/sites/health/files/pdf-library/Why-Biology-Matters-Drinking.pdf


Emslie, C., Hunt, K., & Lyons, A. (2015). Transformation and time-out: The role of alcohol in identity construction among Scottish women in early midlife. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(5), 43745. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.12.006


Favour & Company (n.d). High risk vs. low risk drinking. Retrieved from, https://favorandcompany.com/about-fraternal-health- and-safety-initiative/aodap-high-risk-v-low-risk-drinking/


Graves, G. (2019, March 19). The reason why women are drinking more than they every have. Health.com. Retrieved from, https://www.health.com/condition/alcoholism/rethink-relationship-to-alcohol?fbclid=IwAR0wk9coNzsi8SDvd_UxkevfnhlriWePosothyaJGthgsfdUIXiHu8fKvfw


Laufkin, B., Murray, J. Nurmahomed, R. (n.d). The feminization of alcohol. BBC. Retrieved from, https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200924-the-feminisation-of-alcohol-marketing


McKetta, S., & Keyes, K. M. (2019). Heavy and binge alcohol drinking and parenting status in the United States from 2006 to 2018 : An analysis of nationally representative cross-sectional surveys. PLOS Medicine, 16(11), e1002954. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002954


Sargent, J. D., & Babor, T. F. (2020). The relationship between exposure to alcohol marketing and

underage drinking is causal. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Supplement, (s19), 113- 24. https://doi.org/10.15288/jsads.2020.s19.113


University of Notre Dame. (2020). Blood Alcohol Concentration. Retrieved from,

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