Creativity is messy.
Inside. Inside `SKIN' is an exploration into what we consider to be diverse. As a society we are so fascinated by what we see but are so quick to turn the other way regarding anything emotional.
Undressing Mental Health- Article pt l
Visuals - Headshot roll of imperfections.
O8-O9 Regaining control- Article pt2
Featuring Olivia Yoxall Liz Walker
Internal Diversity In a world where having a mental illness has become fashionable, we need to drop the glorification and understand that it is an issue we need to take seriously.
Undressing Mental Health A
s a society we pick apart the differences in what we can see, but so easily dismiss the differences in how we feel. The fashion industry has become such an unrivalled machine that it is easy to get swept up in the pressure that causes such damaging mental illnesses. We are suffocated by insecurity and expectations, furthermore this February will mark seven years since Alexander McQueen devastatingly took his own life. McQueen once stated: “Fashion should be a form of escapism not a form of imprisonment.” However it is the fashion industry that imprisons us with such narrow ideals of beauty, with mental illness possibly being the price of acceptance. We find images glamorising such crippling emotions, transforming them into something poetic on a Tumblr page, totally dismissing the harsh reality that depression is an illness that will affect 1/4 of the population over the course of a year. It becomes so glorified that the reality is lost. If these shocking statistics were in relation to any other disability, it would be considered an epidemic. Stephanie Palin, 20, is a model and theatre student at Roehampton University, and has dealt with these issues her whole life. “About 5 years ago everyone seemed to be obsessed with being different and not ‘okay’ almost as if having depression was quirky. But nowadays with how social media is, we want to all be the same and lead these perfect lives that we can document for all the world to see.” Having a Mental illness is not a passionate quote sprawled across a brick wall, sometimes it is just about sitting up till 4 in the morning unable to sleep. We need to rid the poetic ties as much as we need to rid the stigma.
The fashion industry demands perfection and therefore attracts the perfectionists. With over 2.3 billion social media users world wide, everyone is striving to illustrate the perfect lifestyle. We want to mirror what we see on the catwalk and what is being talked about in the media. We then become so focused on achieving the right ‘look’ that we forget to acknowledge how destructive superficial ideals actually are. Olivia Yoxall, 20, is a member of the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. Not only does she perform, but she also teaches theatre to students. Her aim is to create a force of individual talent instead of the disposable clones we have become accustomed too. “There is still so much wrong with the industry that creates our role models, the casting director makes up his mind within two minutes of meeting you, meaning you will be looked up and down once, and then once more.” An industry claiming to strive for diversity, in doing so, becomes so discriminatory. Undoubtably, image is important as an all white cast would be disrespectful and uninspiring in a performance on African slavery. But is there any wonder young impressionable girls are squeezing themselves into the pigeon hole that they are inevitably forced into anyway? Olivia recalls: “You need to fit that box and you need to stand there and smile for 12 hours on end regardless of how you are really feeling because everyone just wants to see that finished product.” So frequently our motives are justified by what everyone else will think. Nevertheless once we start to understand who we truly are underneath, we will then have the confidence to be whoever we want to be, to do whatever we want to do, and wear whatever we want to wear.
Fashion is a form of self expression
Regaining Control. `Once I believed I was strong physically, I believed I could be strong mentally' Mental illnesses are either brushed under the
rug or completely embellished when associated in a fashion context. We rejoiced John Galliano’s return to the industry, grateful he found his way back on the creative path after his breakdown. We admired Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty exhibition in the V&A, remembering his tragic death, yet we dismiss the reality that 68.3% of models suffer with anxiety and depression according to The Model Alliance. We need to stop thinking that creativity is tied to tragedy and start addressing the issue seriously. Unrealistic expectations are not just forced onto young girls. Liz Walker is an example of someone who has been dealing with depression and anxiety since she was 7 years old. Now at 48, this wife and mother of three, has finally dropped the idea of trying to please society and begun to please herself. Liz recollects: “I just did what was expected of me. School, job, marriage and then children, because that is what a women should do. When I was growing up Mental Health was never discussed. I just knew I wasn’t ‘Normal’. As Liz was opening up to me about her experiences, she began to cry, proving how hard it is to talk about mental illnesses still to this day.
Liz has now set up her own yoga business, completely breaking routine of following what is expected of her. With bright colourful printed yoga pants, she definitely isn’t the normal mum on the school run. Sitting in front of me with her tight blue leopard printed leggings seems so bizarre for somebody who has spent their whole life wanting to stay hidden, however Liz comments: “Once I felt passionate about something everything began fitting into place. Whats more, teaching what I have learnt onto someone else who may be struggling like I was, gives me the confidence I didn’t have before. Once I focused on building a strong body I then began to believe I was strong mentally.” Mental illnesses are not just ignored in the fashion industry, but in every walk of life. We need to stop and really question, how far will we push this, before the stories we are glamorising become our reality? With another Fashion Week lurking around the corner, mental health is an issue that needs to be addressed so that we can change our approach towards those that may suffer, and hopefully live in a more accepting society. ENDS Phoebe Walker
not a form of imprisonment.
It is an understanding.
A diagnosis is not a label.