Fashion + Mental Health 2020

Perfectionism: Fashion and its Impact on Body Dysmorphia

Perfection is found in accepting your imperfections

Bridgett Devoue

The way that we perceive our bodies is vital to our levels of self-confidence, self-worth, and the way that we interact with others. In today’s world, a mental illness known as ‘Body Dysmorphic Disorder’ is an alarming concern. According to the NHS, “Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance”.

One of the factors that can trigger the obsession with a certain body part is fashion. Within the fashion industry, there are many aspects that could induce anxiety or worry in certain consumers. For example, if a brand only caters for certain sizes, or makes certain pieces a certain size, then this could easily trigger BDD in someone as there would be a feeling of mental confusion about themselves. This confusion could then turn into an obsession, and in turn be the start of this particular mental illness. 

Don’t let your size define you 

No matter what size you are, you must not let it define you. Wear clothes that make you feel empowered and like you can conquer anything. You don’t need to be a certain size to be beautiful, you do you! Studies have shown that not everyone that suffers from BDD has an illness like anorexia, but the two can often be linked due to the global emphasis on clothing pieces, body shapes, and outfit sizes. 

In December of last year, British actress Jameela Jamil opened up about her struggles with body dysmorphia and anorexia. Jamil admitted that she ended up weighing herself every single day of her life up until 2018. To help herself, and many others around the world who are struggling with the two mental health conditions, she set up an Instagram page in 2018 called ‘I Weigh”. The account now has over 1.2 million followers! The movement now also has a podcast and website to spread the awareness even further. 

Ignore social media posts that could trigger body dysmorphia

All too often these days, we’re exposed to social media posts that promote things like ‘waist trainers’ or ‘skinny teas’. These simply add fuel to the body-obsessed fire. Waist trainers are marketed to give you an hourglass figure underneath the outfit that you’re wearing. However, research has shown that the trainers can actually eventually cause serious breathing difficulties. Also, the skinny teas can also have severe side effects on consumers in the forms of skin irritation and dehydration. Are either of these really worth the mental and physical damage? 

The more we consume this type of content, the more our mental health can be impacted. Surely it’s better to avoid these sort of accounts all together and focus on accepting your body for how it is in the current state. By doing this, you won’t be sat comparing your body shape or size to someone else on the Internet. In turn, you get to avoid the feeling of being inclined to rush out and spend money on psychologically damaging products that just create an endless cycle of self-depreciating thoughts. Simply, just remember how beautiful you actually are, despite what that anxious inner voice may often say throughout the day. 

Don’t feel obliged to follow the lingerie as outerwear trend

Over the last few months, a trend of wearing lingerie as outwear has been on the rise. Although this may seem innocent, in my opinion there could be mentally damaging implications that come along with it. For example, when trying to keep up with the trend, consumers could perhaps feel like they are wearing something outside their boundaries, yet continue to proceed with wearing a skimpy outfit to stay relevant amongst their circle, or on social media. The trend could also fuel comparison with other people’s bodies as the outfits will be more revealing, resulting in more features to compare against. So not only are the outfits getting compared, but the bodies too. 

However, on the other hand, wearing lingerie outside the house could make some people feel empowered, so if that’s the case for you, keep doing you! Clothes should be worn to make us feel like the best version of ourselves, mentally and physically. Be sure to wear clothing and/or shop with fashion brands that cater for your mental health as it matters far more than how you look on the outside. So, always remember that every body is beautiful, regardless of any flaws, and that no one is you and that is your power! Your mental health must come first over any fashion trend any day. 

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