Fashion + Mental Health 2020

Fashion Barriers: How Mental Illness Can Affect What We Wear

Mental illness in modern society

Mental illness is currently at the forefront of many conversations. Its importance is being more widely recognised than ever before, with people working to really understand what it actually is. Of course, mental health is a complex thing. However, it can be described on a basic level as our psychological and emotional wellbeing. One of the reasons why it has become such a huge topic of conversation in modern society is that the number of mental health issues appear to be rising. According to statistics on Mind’s website, the amount of people with common mental health problems went up by 20% between 1993 and 2014.

With mental health being such a widely discussed topic, especially in recent years, it is no surprise that it is linked to other aspects of society. Fashion is a big one of these. People tend to use their fashion choices to express themselves. Their feelings, beliefs, and passions can be reflected in the clothes they wear. Therefore, it makes sense that their mental health plays a part in these choices too. If a person wears certain colours or styles of clothes, they could be expressing their mental health status.

Mental illness and fashion choices

As complex as mental health is, people may not even be aware of how it affects what they wear. A lot of our fashion choices are subconscious. This means that although we decide what to put on every day, we may not always be consciously aware of why we wear a particular thing. A person may be feeling very positive and choose to wear brighter colours that reflect this, but they may not realise that this is the reason for their choice. Similarly, a person may be feeling down and choose to wear darker colours. Again, they may not be aware of how their mood plays into the decision that they make.

The process of choosing what to wear can become even more complex for a person with mental health issues and they may not even know it. Anxiety, for example, is a common mental health issue that can affect how people make decisions. Too many options may be overwhelming for a person who suffers from anxiety. This can be rather exhausting, with even the smallest of decisions taking up lots of time. As such, they may just settle for any outfit after a while of trying to decide on something that is truly representative of them and how they feel.

Depression is another mental health issue that is very common in society. It is also another mental health issue that can affect how people make decisions. Fatigue and a lack of motivation are both very common symptoms of depression and can prevent a person having the energy to decide what clothes to put on in the morning. Again, this can mean that people suffering from depression may just settle when it comes to their fashion choices instead of wearing what they actually like.

Masking feelings with fashion

Symptoms of mental illnesses affecting the decision-making process is just one big way in which mental illness and fashion are connected. Fashion can also be used by people to mask their mental illnesses. As fashion can be used to express your feelings, it makes sense that it can also be used to purposefully trick others into thinking you feel a certain way. As I said before, mental health is a complex thing and there are many reasons why a person might not want others to know that they are going through a hard time with their mental health. With fashion being one of the easiest ways to outwardly express the way you feel inside, it is also very easy to consciously choose clothes that may make people think you are feeling more positive than you really do. This may be especially true for those who suffer from depression. By wearing clothes that are brighter and more cheerful, it may be possible for people to persuade others that they feel that way inside through their fashion choices.

The relationship between mental health and fashion is an extensive and complicated one. Symptoms of mental illnesses can affect the way in which we interact with fashion on a day to day basis, and fashion can be used to hide mental illness from others. It is very clear that the two are linked which makes sense given their respective importance in modern society.

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