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The unspoken truth about mental health in the fashion industry

The world of fashion is often portrayed as a world of luxury, glamor, large beautiful smiles, and a lot of extravagances. At least that’s what you see when you look at the models on the catwalk, isn’t it? They are walking confidently while displaying a large breathtaking smile that makes you think their life is simply perfect. 

However, before you idolize the life of models or fashion designers, take a second to think about what actually is behind their smiles. Is it a perfect life in the perfect industry? Or do they also struggle with a lot of stress and anxiety to look perfect all the time? 

Mental illness in the fashion industry is somehow still a taboo topic among fashion professionals. However, with more and more fashion designers and models coming out about their battles with depression, this issue is becoming increasingly harder to ignore. 

Why is the fashion industry cultivating mental issues vulnerability? 

The fashion industry seems perfect when looked from the outside. Glamorous clothes, luxury parties and vacations, perfect pictures of perfectly-looking models. So, what could be wrong about this “perfect world”? 

According to a study from the US Center for Disease Control, when comparing the suicide rates among occupations, researchers have found that the fashion industry was the 7th occupation which’s professionals were very likely to develop mental illnesses. 

The mental health counselling experts from Win Parry explain that “Mental illness is an equal opportunity employer who doesn’t care whether you are famous, wealthy, or a regular person. Everybody can struggle with mental health conditions and should have the chance to get the right treatment.” 

There are a number of factors that make the fashion world cultivate vulnerability in fashion professionals for poor mental health. And perhaps, one of the most powerful factors is exactly the pressure to keep the label of being “perfect” in a “perfect world”. Various models, fashion designers, and professionals from this industry are facing long working days and high levels of stress in a demanding deadline-driven work world. 

Also, the world of fashion is also highly competitive and has a critical nature when you consider the pressure for certain appearance standards for models and the heavy criticism that is often headed towards the designers’ work. 

So, we could say that the fashion industry can sometimes be an extremely stressful workplace that can affect the mental wellbeing of fashion professionals. 

Eating disorders and the fashion industry 

Driven by the demand to look in shape at all times and to display a perfect smile while they are at the catwalk, many fashion models develop eating disorders. It is, however, important to note that the fashion industry isn’t the one to blame for causing eating disorders. In fact, it is important to realize that what a model does it’s a matter of choice. However, what the fashion industry can be blamed for are the strict weight and size standards it has. These standards, in a way or another, make models starve themselves in order to meet the standards and enter or remain in this industry. 

Plus, it isn’t only the eating disorders developed by the fashion models due to the strict standards they must meet. It is also all the people that are influenced by the pictures of the models and develop eating disorders because they aspire to have a “perfectly-looking” body. 

According to a former model, Victoire Dauxerre, who has struggled with eating disorders during her career as a model, bulimia and cocaine-use are the two most used methods in the modelling industry so that the models can remain skinny. 

Apart from being pressured to remain thin, fashion models are also not allowed to practice any type of sport in order to not gain muscle. Overall, you could barely say that a fashion model can have a healthy lifestyle. 

Models have opened up about their mental health issues 

One of the biggest steps in addressing mental illnesses in the fashion industry is to listen to the stories of those who have faced poor mental health due to the competitive and critical nature of this industry. 

Luckily, many famous names from the fashion industry decided to share their stories in order to raise awareness about the mental health risks models and fashion professionals are predisposed to. Their courage to open up about their mental health conditions is the first step into changing the fashion industry, little by little, to be more accepting and less damaging. Here are 3 fashion professionals who have opened up about their mental health issues: 

Cara Delevingne 

Cara Delevingne is one of the most famous models in the fashion industry nowadays. And, she is one of the fashion professionals who decided to show that money and fame can’t buy you happiness. By the age of 15, Cara Delevingne was already a rich and famous supermodel. However, she was also secretly struggling with depression and anxiety, and even self-hatred. Even worse, besides struggling with depression, the model also turned to harmful behaviors including partying and using drugs as coping mechanisms for her negative thoughts and moods. 

Gisele Bundchen 

What can seem the perfect life, with the perfect job and the most adorable kids, may not be so ideal in reality. Gisele Bundchen is one of the most famous models who didn’t only struggle with poor mental health but also found the courage to share her experiences with the entire world. In her book called Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, the model shares some of her most difficult moments including facing claustrophobia, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts. 

Kate Moss 

There is rarely someone who wouldn’t recognize the beautiful supermodel Kate Moss. The supermodel has a long career in fashion, almost 25 years, and she has reached the top of her career in 2011 when she was the third best-paid model worldwide. However, despite all this success, Kate Moss didn’t always have the perfect life working in the fashion industry. She is one of the supermodels who have struggled with drug addiction which started as a coping mechanism for the high-stress she was experiencing as a model. 

Mental illness doesn’t care whether you are a celebrity or a regular person. So, the fashion industry should make some changes and work on changing the strict standards that make fashion professionals struggle with stress, depression, and anxiety. 

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