Drink Like a Lady?

Today I saw a commercial for a line of diet alcohol that had the tag line “drink like a lady”.  That activated my eye-roll reflex so violently I was worried that I was going to damage my vision.  There are so many things wrong with this.

I am exhausted as it is by all of the products trying to increase their market share by promising not that their food or beverage is tasty or nutritious, but that it will help us manipulate our body size (despite a complete and utter lack of evidence). One of the things that I do as activism is to never buy a product with a weight loss message.  It’s ridiculous – “diet” versions of everything from cereal to soda, their packaging covered with empty promises – “Lose 20 pounds in 10 minutes by eating this chemical shitstorm version of real food!”  I sort of can’t believe that people are still pimping that speech.

And now a woman owned company chooses to make their money by trying to convince women that if we want to be a “lady” we even have to drink diet booze.  It’s not new – I remember my Atkins friends loading up on Vodka and low carb Red Bull and my Weight Watchers friends calculating the points value of a rum and diet Coke.  Now we can get drunk supporting a company that tells us that a “lady” should never, ever not be thinking about her weight.  Getting a drink to relax, they want us to know, should not include relaxing the constant calorie counting and diet mentality that defines us as “ladies.”

Another of their tag lines is “cocktails without the guilt.” I think that “guilt free!” food is even worse that “diet!” food. One of the best things that I gave up in my journey from an eating disorder to a healthy relationship with food was the concept of guilt. If I decide to have some ice cream I choose ice cream made with ingredients that I can discern without pulling out my college chemistry book or my copy of the periodic table. I eat the ice cream, enjoy the ice cream and move on with my life, unlikely to think about the ice cream again.  If I choose a salad the same steps apply.  I spent a LOT of time feeling guilty about what I ate, what I didn’t eat, what I wanted to eat even if I didn’t, and no good came of it.  A guilt free cocktail is one that you drink and then don’t choose to feel guilt over. Guilt free does not have to be about spending more on some special product, and you don’t need a  special product or anyone else’s permission to eat and drink without guilt.

I’m not against people selling products (I’ll be pimping my new book and blog membership at the end of this post and I’m not guilty about that either).  I am against companies trying to take our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit.  This guilt free lady is calling bullshit on that.

Pre-Order the Book!

You have until this Sunday to preorder the book and get free shipping and an autographed copy. 

On July 9th the hard copy will go up for sale including shipping and without the autograph, and the low cost e-book will also become available.

Fat: The Owner’s Manual – Navigating a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact, with foreword by Marilyn Wann, is now available for pre-order.   This is a book about living life in the body that you have now, making decisions about what you want in the future, and how to get there.  Whether you want to change your body, fight for size acceptance, just live your life, or understand and support your fat friends and family, this book was written to provide the insights, aha moments, humor, and hard facts to help.

Become a Member, Support The Work!

I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, you can  become a member (you get extra stuff, discounts, and you’re always the first to know about things) or a you can support my work with a  one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free. If you’re curious about this policy, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen


42 thoughts on “Drink Like a Lady?

  1. Oh, the guilt! I spent so much time feeling guilty – or feeling naughty – for eating a cookie, for choosing a ‘bad’ food, for cooking with oil or butter instead of lo-cal spray. One of the biggest revelations for me was when I realised that that guilt was artificial, something that was not remotely connected to the food item itself, but manufactured (by the diet industry, diet culture, etc).
    Now, it saddens me to hear my friends and family ruin a perfectly good ice-cream or piece of cake by expressing feelings of guilt or naughtiness for eating, you know, “I shouldn’t have… that was really bad…. no more sweets for the rest of the week…..”, like it was the worst thing they could have possibly done. When I hear these comments, I joke saying “it’s ice-cream, not murder, there’s no need to feel guilty.” Sometimes, I get through, and they eat with gusto and enjoy their food, sometimes, they still look uncomfortable eating. Since letting go of the guilt, I enjoy my food so much more, it is a much more pleasurable and rich experience to actually have the real ice-cream, without guilt, than the low-fat ice-cream, which always left me feeling virtuous but unsatisfied. I have learned that it is ok to to love and relish food in tandem with learning to love and cherish my body, and my life is so much richer for it.

  2. That ad really grinds my gears, too. If I want a drink, I have a drink. End of story. I don’t want to know how many calories are in it, just like I don’t give a damn that I’ve got (gasp!) three tablespoons of peanut butter on my bagel instead of two. Besides, the concept of calorie-reduced alcohol is revolting. I refuse to buy diluted wine at the same price (or higher) as a bottle of Yellowtail or Vampire, and I’m sure as hell not drinking a cocktail made with synthetic sweeteners that overwhelm any possible sense of subtlety. I may not drink much, but when I do, damn it, I treat my booze with respect!

    And now I’m wondering exactly how far food science wants to go with chemical additives. First hint of Francium I see, I’m hiding under my bed.

    1. Exactly. Sort of tangentially related, back when NYC was banning smoking in bars* one person wrote a blog entry where they basically said: “It’s a BAR, people! It’s not a health club. It’s called McSwilligans, not McWorkoutigans. People don’t go to bars to be healthy!”

      Now, I understand all the arguments for banning smoking, and having worked as a waiter, I remember all too well coming home reeking of smoke after a night’s work. Also, I’m not trying to start a debate about smoking bans, I was just using that example to illustrate that most people drink with the understanding that it is generally not a healthful activity and it’s not a “diet” activity.

      Also, as a beer snob, the idea of those 64-calorie, low-carb, like-making-love-in-a-rowboat beers makes my ass twitch. Like:

      “Yay! my beer only has 64 calories so I can drink (and spend) three times as much!”

      Whatever, dude. You can keep your “skinny,” over-priced swill, I’ve got my hand-crafted, full-calorie, micro brew that doesn’t make my farts smell like something died inside of me.

      1. That asterisk was intended to go with the comment: “I’m not trying to argue against smoking bans…” at the end of the comment, but I folded it into the comment instead.

  3. Dr. Oz (can’t stand him) described eating in People magazine as “joyless.” how many things are wrong with this? He describes his healthy “green drink” and so on and “the healthiest man in the world” proceeds to say e gets absolutely no pleasure from eating. It’s all willpower, all the way. Terrible message and totally misguided. Maybe you could do an article on this? I would love to read it!!!!!

    1. I suppose he is the boss of his own underpants, but I feel bad for him. Enjoying good food and good wine is something human beings have been doing for centuries if not millenia. I sometimes picture the first caveman discovering that you could flavor your food by adding other things and suddenly becoming Emeril Lagazzi. Dr.Oz has a right not to take pleasure in food. He has a right to find it joyless, but he shouldn’t expect the same from the rest of us. It is human nature to find things that please our sense of smell, touch, hearing, sight, and taste. If it can please all five, it is even better.

      1. We are actually hard-wired to go for bold, rich, pleasurable flavors. We like salty things because we need salt. We like sweet things because sugar is our body’s primary fuel. We like creamy, fatty things because fats are calorie storage, and we also need them for nerve conduction. We ENJOY eating so that we have a stronger drive to do it, and therefore survive. And while our sense of taste also helps us identify foods that are potentially dangerous, our sense of smell plays a larger role — which means we identify potentially dangerous foods before they ever reach our mouths.

        We have taste receptors because eating is not supposed to be joyless. If it is, then either there is something wrong with the food, or the eater.

    2. Dr. Oz is welcome to his ‘green drink’ and his joylessness. As for me, well, I frankly love to eat. I enjoyed the hell out of my vegetarian Indian dinner last night, and I’ll likely enjoy the hell out of a roast chicken in a couple days. I just enjoyed a delicious glass of white grape/peach juice. Mmm… delicious.

      For me both eating and cooking are intense pleasures that I wouldn’t give up if it would make me live a thousand years.

      I know there are those for whom eating is merely an unpleasant biological necessity (my grandmother and my aunt numbered among them), but it’s simply another way of living, hardly a virtue.

      1. Just to add, it’s Dr. Oz’s underpants and he can eat joylessly if he wants to. But so many people use him as a model of what to be, I think they should know how he really lives.

    1. I will admit that I prefer diet coke (specifically the zero variety) but that’s because I take a liquid supplement that I put in the coke to mask the awful taste. And I love coke so drinking one or two a day of the “full octane” stuff makes my mouth feel sticky, and I get that pesky sugar rush/crash that sucks.

      I go for diet so I can enjoy the taste without the side effects.

      Plus, I think the sugar in the mixer makes the alcohol hit you faster. So if you’re trying to pace yourself, diet might be the way to go.

      But neither of those things have anything to do with weight or drinking like a “lady.”

      1. I drink both “diet” and regular soda, it depends on my mood. I drank a lot of sugar free soda when I was a kid because my grandmother is addicted to the stuff so I guess I developed a taste for it. Every now and then a Diet Pepsi just sounds good. My soda of choice will always be Dr. Pepper though.

        Soda used to be a big guilt thing for me. I gradually just realized it was pointless to feel guilt over a drink. I know when I’ve had too much and if I’m craving one I go ahead and drink one.

        and like you that has nothing to do with weight or being a “lady.”

  4. Ugh; I hate those ads as well. And don’t even get my started on the Verizon commercial wherein weight loss sells cell phones/cell service.

    I “unfriended” my gym on Facebook and refuse to read their newsletters after they posted a link to an article about the “6 [or maybe it was 8] guilt free dishes I can order in national restaurants.” Come again? I don’t know about the rest of your clients, dear Gym, but I can order anything off of any menu sans guilt.

  5. Ragen, I do love the way you turn a phrase. “Lose 20 pounds in 10 minutes by eating this chemical shitstorm version of real food!” Nice!

  6. While I do not like the word “diet soda,” I do like having a sugar-free soda from time to time simply because I have PCOS and when I was pregnant the first time, I had gestational diabetes and could eat pretty much zero things with carbohydrates in them. So drinking a diet coke with grenadine was my “special treat” because it was sweet and didn’t make me get a blood sugar spike. I am pregnant again, and being careful of carbohydrates and checking my blood sugars (but my A1C so far has been perfect at 5.4, whoo hoo!), so I’m not trying to stress out too much. I own my underpants, eat intuitively, and do my best not to serve a heaping serving of guilt with my servings of food.

    I don’t care for “diet” foods and generally do not eat them, but it does bug me when things that I actually love (such as cherub cherry tomatoes) are marketed as “low fat” or “low calorie” and I just want to scream at the box “BUT THIS IS NOT WHY I AM BUYING THIS PRODUCT!!!!”

    As for booze, that’s never been an issue for me in the first place. I don’t care for the taste, the price is usually exorbitant, I have a large number of family members who are alcoholics (and am part Cherokee/Creek Native), plus I really don’t like the feeling of not being in control of my body. Add to that my PCOS, which causes alcohol to metabolize weirdly in my body and I’m pretty much a teetotaler. But I totally respect others’ rights to drink responsibly. But you wouldn’t believe the weird crap that I get from people who get absolutely LIVID that I won’t drink with them. Thank goodness that being pregnant is a great excuse for not drinking- it’s hard to find the company of other adults who have surpassed the herd mentality schoolyard thinking. *sigh*

    1. I prefer sugared sodas, but as I said above, I drink the diet stuff because the sugars make my teeth feel sticky and I usually crash. I don’t see a problem with diet sodas, I just wish they’d can the “diet” label and just call them sugar-free.

      And I get what you mean about labels. I love Multi-grain Cheerios, I hate the box that’s all diet propaganda.

    2. GAH! I know exactly what you mean about labels. I’ve eaten Cheerios since I was a kid and now they’re a “diet” food. Same thing with Greek yogurt, I just like it. I don’t care if it’s a “low fat” food.

    3. I’ve been a designated driver for years (have maybe 3 servings of alcohol per year). Even when I’m driving I’ve been given crap about “just one won’t hurt.” The worst of it was from my alcoholic ex-husband’s family. Sometimes I speak up and sometimes I just drink a plain Coke and let people assume what they want. It always grates, though.

  7. Wow. I bet if that phrase of Dr. Oz’s that he finds eating “joyless” went viral, it would undermine his credibility somewhat.I found the quote here http://www.refinery29.com/dr-oz-diet. Let’s start spreading the word!

    I’m off today to the California Coast Music Camp (musiccamp.org) for a week where my husband teaches guitar every summer and where I’m one of the hosts of happy hour. Today’s blog post has made me decide that when someone says something disparaging about how they shouldn’t be indulging in our wealth of snacks and beverages, I’ll say, “Personally, I’m eating guilt-free Doritos,” or “I’m drinking a guilt-free gin & tonic.” Then when they ask me how come it’s guilt-free, I’ll say, “Because I don’t feel guilty!” That oughta get a laugh and maybe open a few eyes at the same time.

    1. Unfortunately, probably not. Those who idolize him would probably think they were some kind of personal failure for not finding eating as joyless as he does.

      “According to Dr. Oz, we’re not supposed to enjoy food…”

    2. Thank you for locating the discussion about that Oz quote. I’m happy that most people see how awful it is (read the comments). It seems very macho to me – I’m such a tough guy I don’t need no stinkin’ delicious food. How STUPID!

  8. All this guilt-free food just proves how conservative our society is about certain things. What’s wrong with taking pleasure in eating delicious food?

    The ‘drink like a lady’ tagline also peeves my feminist side. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that denying yourself pleasure is more ladylike than indulging. What’s wrong with indulging a rum and coke, calories be damned?

  9. All you ladies are great, and men, I eat guilt free too! I love it, and I am implimenting that into my vocabulary. I went to Sees candy shop today and got some guilt free chocolate. Used to live in Ca. and here in Tx we didnt have it until now. I also watch my sugar intake and choose accordingly for myself. As far as Dr.Oz goes, …….I just ignore him. He is making a lot of money doing what he does. I have no problem with someone making money, but I personally dont like what he says and how he does things. He wont get any of my money.

  10. I work at a lab job where we are not allowed to eat for a portion of our time there — we do odor work and eating interferes with the sense of smell. Plus, the job starts around lunch time and, as a result, we end up talking a lot about food. Most times the conversation is just about things we like to eat and, occasionally about “bad” foods. But, sometimes we have food days (like birthdays or other celebrations) and we do have snacks on hand for when we can eat.

    Most of the snacks are non-perishable — chips, pretzels, chocolate, etc — and sometimes food days usually result in a variety of foods from salads, to meat and cheese trays, to ice cream.

    On the food days, most of us eat what we like and commend the food preparer (or buyer) for their offering. But there is one person who is ALWAYS the killjoy.

    And it’s the same person every time,

    When someone raided the mini fridge for some left over meat and cheese, she was the one who had to go on and on about how unhealthy it was and how “Y’all have to eat healthier foods.”

    Oh really, now?

    And then there was the ice cream party where everyone was enjoying themselves and this person had to go and pick up one of the packages, get all wide-eyed, and read off the amount of fat and calories per serving.

    Um… we KNOW, it’s Ice cream! Way to kill the buzz.

    As far as I’m concerned, if someone wants to count calories or freak out about how much they’re eating, they’re free too — TO THEMSELVES. Perhaps they need to do that to feel good about themselves and their choices. Maybe they need to do that to assuage their insecurities about their own weight and size.

    But when they can’t resist broadcasting that crap to everyone else… well that’s just pathological. If someone is eating and enjoying themselves, the last thing they want is some asshole sidling up to them and saying “you know that soylent green you’re enjoying is made from people…”

    And they definitely should not boldly proclaim that “Y’all need to be…” anything.

    They need to either eat it, enjoy it and STFU, or NOT eat it, enjoy not eating it, and S.T.F.U.

    1. I should clarify, this woman’s tactics don’t make me feel uncomfortable enjoying whatever I’m eating, it offends me. Because that is just RUDE.

      1. I agree with you. I have been trying to come up with a come back for that….What if we were to say to the group, why is there always someone (or killjoy) in the group who feels the need to give us a lesson on calories and fat. I think we all know that by now. I dont know what to say. I come off as sacastic everytime I open my mouth. I would like some good ideas on what to say. Even to say, that was rude. I liked your comment on Soylent green. Good one!! Would it be wrong just to say , “that was rude”. I dont know.

      2. Why not take boxes or cans of food you have at home, cut out the nutritional info, wrap it with a big bow and gift it to the manager? Tell her you know how much she enjoys reading the labels, so you decided to give her a bunch. YOU know she likes to look after her health, so you’re just trying to help out. Perhaps you can enlist your co-workers to add their labels, too.

      3. Oh yeah that is way rude.

        The last time someone decided to let me know how many calories were in something and how it was so awful I just looked at her and said, “oh that’s all I guess I’ll buy two packages then.” (the item in question was Oreos) I really thought she was going to explode right there in the store.

  11. I used to feel such guilt for eating anything yummy. Even if I knew it was still healthy and was yummy at the same time. I had been fully indoctrinated into the idea that if I enjoyed eating something it was automatically bad. I started to realized this was insane when I felt bad for eating (and enjoying) grapes. Yes, grapes. I sat there for a second and kind of mentally smacked myself in the back of the head (think Red from That 70’s Show) and called myself a dumbass. I still had lingering guilty feelings and then I got pregnant. This is the first time in my life where I’ve eaten 2 (TWO!) cupcakes and not felt a ping of guilt.

    I absolutely hate these kinds of ads, they are a lot more damaging than they seem. As for Dr. Oz and his joyless eating…to each their own, but man that makes me sad.

  12. I hate that they use concepts like feeling guilty about the number of calories in the regular versions as a selling point, but as someone who can’t consume sugar with out significant negative affects, I want the artificially (or agave) sweetened products to survive in our market so that I have commercially available choices… and the only way to do that is to purchase them. I vote instead with letter campaigns to companies about their advertising choices.

    1. I miss the days when sugar-free meant “Diabetic” or “Anti-tooth decay.”

      You know, when the indicated use was for reasons other than weight loss.

      And I have to chuckle every time I pick up a pack of sugarless gum and it says in bold letters “NOT INTENDED FOR WEIGHT LOSS,” or some variation thereof.

  13. Ack. Not only is this infuriating on all the levels mentioned here, it’s insulting to the memory of the great Dorothy Parker, who used the phrase to mean an ability to hold one’s liquor.

    I wish I could drink like a lady
    I can take one or two at the most
    Three and I’m under the table
    Four and I’m under the host.

  14. Interesting…It is their underpants and I don’t give them any thought. They can sell calorie free beer or whatever else. As I don’t care for the fat free milk, fat free cream or whatever else… I pity those that buy in…but I don’t know their stories… To me, it is their underpants. Whether successful or not… I just know that it is not for me… I just smile and move on…

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