Think 20-somethings are the biggest boozers? Think again. A new study of Danish and English women found that women with high incomes and good jobs drink more often and more heavily than almost any other group of women. According to the researchers, society’s preoccupation with teen and college-age drinking has led them to overlook another group of heavy drinkers: professional, middle-aged women.
Why the discrepancy? Researchers says it’s because middle-aged drinking is seen as civilized, compared to the drinking-fueled antics of 20-somethings. Middle-aged drinking is simply not as sexy and visible (Is there a “Gossip Girl” or “Sex in the City” for 40 and 50-somethings?) Picture a 20-something drinker and you picture a gaggle of women hitting the bars, socializing. Older women, with serious jobs, relationships and perhaps, families, tend to do more of their drinking in private, at home. But just because they’re not jumping up on bars or hooking up with random men doesn’t mean they’re consuming less.
Over the holidays, I couldn’t resist going to the latest chick flick, IT’S COMPLICATED, a middle-aged woman’s wet dream, whereby Meryl Streep looks amazing and gets romanced by not one, but two, suitors. I don’t know about you, but most of my friends’ moms who were divorced waited years till they found someone else, while their exes seemed to hook up right away. I’m sure that’s not always the case, but let’s face it: IT’S COMPLICATED is total fantasy-land, people, including the drinking.
Oh, the drinking. IT’S COMPLICATED literally made me want to drink. Everyone had such a rosy glow, and when Meryl throws back a few, then a few more, at the bar with Alec Baldwin, she laughs! She dances! She glows! And she has the time of her life. Sure–things do get “complicated,” but if complicated means great sex and lots of admirers, what’s so bad about that? Yes, Meryl Streep’s character does get sick from all the booze. But still–even the scene of her barfing into her nightstand drawer is cute and funny, rather than sad. It’s all in the lighting. Plus, in the movie, she has a fabulous career as the owner of a high-end bakery, a beautiful house, three gorgeous, well-adjusted kids, and an ex-husband who still carries a torch. Oh yeah, and a killer wardrobe.
Meryl Streep drinks with her warm and witty group of girlfriends. She drinks with her ex. She drinks with her kids, and has a ball. She even smokes pot, and makes it look fun (you’ll have to see the movie for yourself to see the Steven Martin/Meryl Streep pot-smoking party scene–hilarious).
All this is to say that the middle-aged, highly educated professional played by Meryl Streep–and all the other middle-aged and above characters in the film who have great wardrobes, big smiles and great jobs–make the twenty-somethings look tame by comparison. So what gives? Is this another part of the IT’S COMPLICATED fantasy-land, or is there some truth to the thought that established women drink just as much as twenty-somethings?
If you’re 40- 50 or 60-something plus and you’re reading this–do you drink more, less, or the same as you did in your twenties?
Right now, while raising three kids, I definitely drink less, mostly because I’m too tired at night, and I’d rather take a bath or read. But I can envision a time, down the road, when the kids are away at college (like Meryl Streep’s kids in IT’S COMPLICATED) and I start traveling, hanging out more with friends, and yes–sharing bottles of wine…Wow–that sounds like fun. (Not to be a downer, but for some women, who have struggled with alcohol-related issues, the drinking in IT’S COMPLICATED must seem like a sugar-coated fantasy–like Russian roulette, because you never know who’s going to be adversely effected).