There was a video recently of an attractive young woman at the US Open tennis tournament who chugged two beers on screen.
The video went viral with media around the world showing clips of her downing the drinks to the applause and cheers of those around her.
I have an unpopular opinion and one that I’m sure will make me seem like a humourless spoilsport, but the whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable.
Why? It was all the messaging around this woman ‘antics’ (as one of the commentators described it).
I have nothing against the woman herself as I’ve been there – maybe not chugging beer (I wasn’t a beer fan) but I’ve certainly had nights where I’ve downed shots in quick succession.
I first saw the clip on a news panel program where the reaction was one of equal parts humour and admiration.
When over-drinking becomes ‘socially acceptable’
Similar sentiments were displayed on social and in other media coverage with phrases such as awe-inspiring, she’s a champ and real winner accompanying the ‘news story’.
Even the US Open Twitter account posted with the caption CHUG, CHUG, CHUG and a beer emoji.
Most of the responses to the coverage were positive some even encouraging her boyfriend, who was in the stands beside her, looking on lovingly, to marry her as ‘she’s a keeper’.
Any tweets that questioned the video were slammed: “Look at these losers.” One commentor posted.
Let me join the losers. In the past, during my drinking days, I wouldn’t have questioned the video at all.
It would have confirmed all my beliefs around drinking being fun, alcohol being a core part of any social event and the alcohol-equals-cool narrative that is so pervasive.
The fact that the woman was young, blonde and attractive only served to reinforce the ‘cool girl’ vibe of the whole thing.
Contrasting views of drinking
If we saw an older, less attractive person downing two pints of beer in a park would we describe the situation as awe-inspiring or sad?
Again, this has nothing to do with the woman featured in the video. It’s about our contorted and often contrasting views on drinking.
As drinkers we’re fed the images of drinking as fun (girl chugs beer at tennis), social (beer ad shows friends chilling out at the beach) and sophisticated (gorgeous couple share a bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant).
But we’re quick to change our tune when we read the news stories about drunken brawls between men outside a nightclub or see women after a day at the races throwing up in garden beds.
“Can’t handle their drink,” we tut tut in judgement at these people who are drinking irresponsibly.
We get mixed messages from society all the time so it’s no wonder that when we start questioning whether alcohol really is any good for our physical and mental wellbeing we shrug it off.
“Everyone else seems to be able to handle their drinking and society applauds a bit of a binge so it must just be me,” you think.
I can’t speak for what happened to the young woman from the tennis later that day. For all I know the two beers we saw her chug may have been her only drinks of the day before she switched to water and had a fantastic time. But I doubt it.
What I can tell you is that anytime I’ve drunk like that I ended up very messy by the end of it – falling into bed with vague memories of the later part of the night and waking the following day with big regrets and an even bigger hangover. Game, set and match!
Photo courtesy by Raj Tatavarthy from Pexels