FASHION, clothing, visual attributes of which can be manipulated to represent or present one’s mental confidence or state at any one time. A subject of great taboo becomes painfully obvious once its delicate shell is peeled back; said shell can be seen as a shield of confidence. Online communities have grown in abundance since 2010; Facebook in particular has allowed the development and progression of such groups as Mental Health Talk UK/EU. Here, those who need advice, a friendly face, or help when worst comes to worst. As awareness and acceptance grows within the public eye, treatment or development of diagnosis has progressed. It is no longer a sign of weakness.
As far as fashion goes, there’s always been an existing link between the two. Looking back to 2016 Dazed Digital published a number of articles during Mental Health week; both named and anonymous figureheads involved in industry shared stories both positive and negative.
To start with, the impact of social media is widely recognised across a number of different topics. Fashion orientated trends can be solely based on what’s most commonly posted on Instagram, as an example, to then become highly sought after. So, what happens if someone can’t get hold of said piece?
It’s become common knowledge, that many take to social media in an attempt to breach some form of ‘self-worth’ if you will. Internet traffic acts as a provider of ‘approval’ regarding their physical appearance; behind the monitor many act in an entirely different way, potentially playing to their audience therefore in turn belittling those seeking positivity. Confidence is something incredibly difficult to gain, yet something unmeasurably simple to lose.
On the other hand, MHT UK/EU accommodates a platform for help in a time-of-need, or as I published towards the beginning, a chat. The page is monitored by a handful of moderators and admins that deter trolls whilst posting ‘get-to-know’ activities; as a whole showing those slightly more vulnerable that they’re not alone. The page itself is an off-branch of The Basement, a streetwear discussion based Facebook group of which is little-by-little becoming ever more prominent.
Groups like this are of high importance for one reason, relatability.
Fashion is stereotyped for its shallow image; with size 0 models and an incredibly cut-throat industry pushing many talented names to their limit. Two figures that ring out in particular; Alexander McQueen, known for his higher fashion outlook and almost revolutionising an industry under his brand-name, took his life in 2010 after losing two people very close to him in quick succession.
L’Wren Scott, another who took her life; in this case suffering whilst in debt to creditors as husband, Mick Jagger, was on tour.
Looking further and positively, someone who fought and is beating depression. Model, Adwoa Aboah has struggled with her illness, in an interview with Vogue.co.uk saying:
“I just didn’t want to be Adwoa…”.
In an industry where you’re judged purely on looks- how can rejection not be taken personally? She went onto say how she “grew a second skin” to adapt to the crude, harsh reality of which many earn their keep.
But to myself and many the question must be- is this really worth it? For clothes or an image to make other envious, anyone can better themselves visually however it’s mentally where hurdles fall.
In the grand scheme of things, this article is not and cannot be a form of which to combat mental health, but to share acknowledgement that no one is invincible; there’s always a voice in times of need, you’re not alone.
We live in a generation of lessened taboo, where help can be sought through unlimited outlets; the issue is summoning sufficient courage to reach out.
Yes, of course fashion supplies a soft shield for temporary amendment, but, in the long run it’s not a permanent fix. You are not alone, you do not have to suffer. Positivity can come from elsewhere, friends, family; push your boundaries. Happiness isn’t optional, it just has to be found.