Amy “No Rehab” Winehouse and “Cocaine Kate” Moss may not be ideal role models, but are they really to blame for teenage binge drinking?
According to a report by British organization Women in Journalism, teenage girls find “encouragement” in “the soap opera-style lives of glamorous women,” even if those women are falling over drunk and look like hell.
Sure, teens (of both genders) are attracted to images of celebrities supposedly living it up. That doesn’t mean they want to replicate every aspect of their behavior. Why pin it on Winehouse? She’s far from the only celebrity disaster, and hers is a pretty clear-cut cautionary tale. It’s hard to believe that teens see her stumbling around with blood on her satin ballet flats and scratches all over her face and think, That should be me!
Teenagers are wrestling with all kinds of influences, but no one of these things is forcing them to become binge drinkers or drug addicts. In a recent study, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse cites predictable factors like low self-esteem, peer pressure and concerns about weight and appearance as the top motivations for girls to drink. That these things aren’t sensational doesn’t make them any less troubling.
The WIJ report is particularly concerned that any Winehouse-inspired drinking might lead to young women’s having sex. The report notes disapprovingly that the media’s apparent “endorsement of this behavior” takes place in the absence of education about the precautions people need to take in their own nontabloid lives. Unfortunately, “Teens Need More Sex Education” doesn’t make for as titillating a headline.