Welcome back to my blog! Last week was Mental Health Awareness week, so I thought I would do a post which discusses the topic of mental health in relation to the fashion industry. It is important that we talk about mental health, not just during set dates, but all the time. It cannot be a taboo. Please keep on reading to find out my views on the proposed topic.
Yes. Yes is my answer to the title question. As a ‘millennial’ myself I do think the fashion industry has affected my mental health, particularly in regards to the way I view myself. The choosing of models not only by high-end brands for catwalks, but even down to online stores has a big impact on the way both young men & women view themselves. It is hard to feel good about yourself when you are constantly portrayed a body type that is different & ‘better’ to your own. I understand their are millennials with the body type that the fashion industry likes to use ( tall, slim, toned etc.), but not all of us look like this. So why should I have to view clothes on a body that looks different to mine, trying to imagine them on my body is a rather hard task at times. Therefore, this lack of diversity is what causes millennials to feel bad about themselves. It makes us lose confidence in our own appearance when the fashion industry is constantly displaying their idea of perfect. It’s hard not to look. It’s hard not to compare. Another reason for low-self esteem I find, is the terminology that the fashion industry likes to use when describing their models/ their clothing. An example of this would be the term ‘plus sized’. Why can’t clothes just be for everyone? Why do they have to be categorized? To force people to have to shop in different sections because of their body shape/size is an outrageous concept to me. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed when buying clothes, online or in-store. Yet the fashion industry’s insistence on labelling is causing millennials yet again to feel bad about themselves. It makes you contemplate your self-worth; ‘am I not — enough to buy clothes from the ‘normal’ range?’.
Recently, whilst browsing the MissGuided website, I came across their ‘plus size’ model… I was shocked. The young female model in the photograph seemed to be a size 10/12. The same size as me. I would not consider myself to be ‘plus sized’, but after seeing this, maybe I am? This is what the fashion industry does. And it is not just female millennials. young men are represented in the fashion industry in a way that is so unrepresentative of society. Millennial men are presented constantly with models who have perfect muscular bodies, with abs and strong jawlines etc. Again I know some people do look like this. But, can you imagine the pressure if you don’t? It seems like that is almost an expectation of young men to have this type of body, because of the fashion industry’s choices. As a female I cannot speak from personal experience of how this would make millennial men feel, but I know I would feel immense pressure to get my body to look the same as the models you see wearing the clothes on online websites/ on catwalks. If my body didn’t look like that, I would feel badly about myself and my appearance, just the same as what young millennial women feel when they look at female models in the industry. This pressure we feel to look a certain way can cause not only low self-confidence, but also it could cause millennials to develop problems with their relationship with food/eating disorders. A scary concept, but one that is very real in today’s society.
Airbrushing/ editing photos is another big issue. I see an image of a model wearing a bikini for example. No stretch marks. No cellulite. No hair. Once again this is so unrepresentative of young women in society. But, as a consumer looking at this image I wouldn’t think that. I just think about how I don’t look like the model, and how I should look like the model & what I should do to look like the model. Cellulite, stretch marks and hair are all perfectly natural & normal. They are nothing to be ashamed of, so why does the fashion industry insist on editing them out? We should be sending a message of self-love to young millennial women, not lying to them and showing them images that aren’t true/real. This frustrates me more than anything.
I would be more inclined to buy an outfit if I could relate to the model, wouldn’t you?
Personally, I have tried to disconnect the way I feel about myself to the way I view models when online shopping/ watching catwalk shows etc. As a young millennial woman I understand now that my body type/shape is okay even if it doesn’t look like the ones that are constantly shown to us by the fashion industry. I am healthy and happy, that’s what matters. But, like many others, I still have days of comparing myself to the tall, toned, slim models. The fashion industry is changing yes. With more diverse model body types being used in runway shows, and online websites (for example using non airbrushed images of models). But, to me this almost feels forced and un-genuine. The fashion industry knows that millennials are a big target consumer for them, they know that we want to see a greater representation of models, so that’s what they have started to give us. They still only represent a select few body types, such as slim or plus size. Nut there are so many shapes and sizes in between that go unrepresented. I only hope that the industry does carry on changing & evolving into an industry that doesn’t affect young people’s mental and physical health.
Thank you for reading,