I’m sure many of you are aware of the glamorization of mental illness that has been occurring for some time, particularly over the last several years from what I’ve noticed. This seems to be particularly prominent on social sites like ‘tumblr’ where self-harm, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and many more mental illnesses have been hugely romanticized and even promoted causing these issues to become hugely trendy as people seem to think it makes them ‘individual’ or ‘quirky’. It has recently come to my attention that this trendiness of mental illnesses has been taken to a whole new level when clothing producers like ‘Urban Outfitters’, “123t” and ‘Amazon’ have been designing, created and selling clothing that are either promoting, making fun of or glamourizing mental illness. These items include shirts or jumpers with “eat less”, “Schizophrenia beats being alone”, “stressed, depressed but well dressed”, “I hate being bipolar, it’s awesome”, “sad but rad”, “heavily medicated for your safety” and “psycho” as well as a shirt with Kurt Cobain’s suicide note printed on it, a shirt with an image of one person watching another hang themselves with the words ‘suicide watch’ underneath, several shirts with slogans promoting alcoholism and the shirt that seems to have sparked all the drama around this type of clothing, from ‘Urban Outfitters’ the crop top plastered with the word “depression”.
Now, even though all the responses to these fashion trends seem to be coming from people who experience a mental illness –unsurprisingly as 45% of people reportedly are affected by mental illness at some point in their life (Sane Australia 2016)- I dearly hope that hearing about this trend disgusts you as much as it did myself, mental illness or not. Clothing like this illegitimises the illnesses they portray by turning them into a joke and a trend, not to mention how triggering they could be to people who are currently experiencing or are recovering from any of these illnesses.
It may be possible to argue that a select few of these fashion items and the trend of glamourizing mental illnesses in general is a good thing as it’s bringing mental illness out of the shadows of taboo and into everyday conversation and media and it is true that it is breaking the taboo of talking about these illnesses, but it’s being done in completely the wrong way and this is causing many people to not take mental illnesses- or more importantly, the people experiencing them- seriously.
Although Urban Outfitters did recall the ‘depression’ crop top, there are still so many fashion items following this mental illness trend, promoting them in entirely the wrong way and completely degrading the people who actually suffer from the illnesses this street fashion trend is making fun of.