Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Stupidity of Brands on Romanticising Mental Illness

Nothing makes me more mad and upset than seeing shops, stores and brands that I once loved being so thick about the items that they put on display. Items, clothing and objects that quite honestly targets mentally ill individuals by making jokes out of the topic. It's easy for someone who has no experience with mental illness to laugh and joke about these items that they see in shops and others brush it off as raising awareness when in reality. there is a big difference between mental health awareness and taking the piss out of mental illness completely. After reading Leah's post, I remembered how over the years, I have seen clothing, accessories and even mugs plastered with these 'funny' quotes. I have even seen a cosmetic brand launch with an extremely uneducated name. To be honest, some of these items I have found funny and I have laughed but little do anybody else know that I have only laughed at the fact that a brand or company can be so stupid to actually make and promote these products. Do these brands really not realise that these products are nothing more than damaging and feeding the stigma that is associated with mental illness.

Starting with what is probably the most well-known situation, when Urban Outfitters released a top in 2014 with a slogan on it directly insulting mental illness. Do you remember that white crop top which has the word 'depression' plastered all over it? Did people actually buy that? I am completely mind blown as to how they didn't think that people would take offence, it isn't even a joke? Where is the punchline? Depression is a daunting and usually secretive illness, so why would we want to wear it on our bodies? To constantly remind ourselves and others of the daily battles inside of our heads? I just don't understand the logic behind this design in the slightest. If this wasn't bad enough, it was later said by Urban Outfitters on twitter that Depression was the brand of the company who made the top which I personally find even more insulting than the top itself. Why did this brand launch under the name 'Depression'? Why are they portraying a serious mental health issue as a fashion statement? 

But of course, this isn't the first time that Urban Outfitters had sold offensive clothing. Back in 2011, they had a women's t-shirt for sale which stated 'Eat Less' which is disgusting. Have they never heard of eating disorders? I know it is only a top but I dread to think about how many individuals this item alone had negative impacts on. The description of this item stated "eat less or more or however much you'd like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck" which just shows that there wasn't even a consideration about how badly this product could effect people, especially young girls who are most commonly at risk of developing eating disorders and ironically are also the target market for the store.

Its not cool and it is certainly not OK but unfortunately Urban Outfitters aren't the only brand and stores to be selling these types of clothing, even Amazon has got involved with the 'hype' when Halloween came around a few years back and they promoted clothing obviously mocking suicide. A t-shirt was being sold with a diagram of two people and the words 'Suicide Watch' as well as a t-shirt displaying a bar code with a man hanging from it. The creators of these products as well as the individuals publishing them to their websites clearly have no respect at all, many people with mental illnesses who are classed as suicidal has experienced being on what amazon would class as 'Suicide Watch' and the fact that these products were launched around Halloween is even worse, fulling the stigma yet again and giving the impression to young people and the population in general that the mentally ill are both scary and dangerous. The suicide watch t-shirt made so many individuals feel offended that a petition even had to occur where an individual stated how seeing an item of clothing like this could potentially tip somebody over the edge.

Believe it or not, these aren't the only outrageous clothing items flooding the internet, there are many different types and ones that seem to be more common nowadays are t-shirts with the quotes 'Sad but Rad' and 'Stressed, Depressed but well Dressed'. The fact that people are actually purchasing these products is appalling, I just don't understand how people see them as being funny or cool in the slightest. 

Moving on and away from clothing, I bet you can all remember many moons ago when photos went around of Claire's accessories selling a set of 'emo scars' for Halloween. Thankfully, these were fake and somebody had just played a childish prank but to my horror, only in 2015 did Topshop create a pack of 'Gold Scar Temporary Tattoos' that cost £8.50 and were displayed in shops on the lead up to Halloween. It really is no surprise that Topshop then got accused of glamorising self-harm. The worse part is that these tattoos had already sold out online soon after they were published to the website. You would have thought that they would learn after the drama with Claire's which luckily happened to be fake. Topshop claims that they were promoting self-love which makes no sense at all to me, on the packet states 'flaws worth fighting for' which just seems like a whole different kick in the face to the people who have self-harm scars. What made me even more furious was the fact that these 'scars' are so detailed that they even have dot and lines across them resembling stitches and staples leaving me certain that  the research had been done into self-harm so what made them think that these would be OK to create and sell? Who knows? I haven't shopped in Topshop since and I don't plan on in the near future. 

I am sure that we are all aware of LUSH Cosmetics; I am personally a fan as are many others who have experienced mental illness as LUSH can be used to distract or self-soothe; a massive part of recovery. LUSH are known for their adventurous product names and humor in their product descriptions. However, when I saw that they had a Kitchen Exclusive Bath Bomb named Happy Pill I did have to look twice. I feel that although this product is a joke and relevant as it is from the Happy Hippy and Olive Branch scent family, why did they make a bath bomb in the shape of a pill called Happy Pill? Everybody knows that a happy pill is another name for an anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic or mood stabiliser and considering that LUSH has a huge audience of individuals with mental illness, it could have come across as offensive although I do understand that it follows the name of a specific scent which contains ingredients to lift your mood. I know that I would personally rather not use a bath bomb which is shaped like a pill which includes this bath bomb as well as Cyanide Pill but that is my own personal preference. 

If you thought that you'd seen it all then think again, because brands don't stop there with shaming mental illness. It has happened with a whole variety of make-up brands too. Starting off with the most common; Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics which is the name of a beauty brand.. something that I was shocked about when I first came across. We have all heard people joking around and stating how they're 'so OCD' and t-shirts floating around the internet stating 'Obsessive Cat Disorder' or 'Obsessive Christmas Disorder' but for a brand to take this illness and alter it to create a company name is outrageous. People really need to realise that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more than being clean and tidy; it is to do with thoughts, compulsions and rituals and isn't always about being clean or tidy, trust me. When going into the Frequently Asked Questions area of their website, the top question reflects the name of the brand with the response from company founder, David Klasfeld stating how "the first step is admitting you have a problem, I did and the result is a line obsessively crafted from the finest ingredients possible, to celebrate the driving compulsions of makeup fanatics everywhere." I am sorry but what? If this brand name wasn't already offensive then it sure is now, he has pretty much changed the psychiatric disorder into a punch line for his brand. I understand that people have urges to keep spending money time and time again on high-end make-up but the underlying disorder has been pushed aside, allowing individuals to misunderstand what it actually is and for the stigma to increase.

The next product that I want to talk about is one that you're all probably aware of and is The Balm Nude 'Tude Eye-Shadow palette which contains twelve shades, all named with a word beginning with the letter S. One of the shades was originally called 'Schitzo' but had to be changed to 'Seductive' after customers from all over the world finding this name offensive. Schizo is one of those words which everybody chucks around without a care, the same as Psycho but for people who are living with Psychosis or Schizophrenia I am sure that these 'insults' aren't that funny. I know numerous people suffering with these disorders and I don't find these words humorous in the slightest. People really need to be careful before throwing around random insults that they may not even know the meaning behind, especially when the words can be very targeting and offensive. However, this shade alone wasn't the only issue with this palette and many women claims that this palette is sexist naming women names like 'Stubborn' and 'Selfish' whereas the nude dude palette gives men names such as 'Funny' and 'Fierce'. Personally, I'm not offended by these, just the Schizo shade which any adult knows what this has been shortened from, surely? Having said this, the Balm Cosmetics have apologised and the shade name has been changed. 

This most likely doesn't come to a surprise to many of you but Jeffree Star Cosmetics launched a liquid lipstick in the shade 'Abused' which had extremely controversial opinions at how the shade name had been used so lightly when in reality, abuse is a very serious topic that can lead to mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The slogan 'New and Abused' was going around all forms of social media when this dark purple toned navy shade was launched and left people having very little respect for the make up artist. People were upset due to this word often being a trigger word in situations where an individual has been abused but Jeffree Star claimed that it was a tribute to Marilyn Masons cover of the famous song, 'Sweet Dreams' which contains the lines 'some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused'. There are going to be a tonne of his fans who have experienced abused and I am sure that they wouldn't want to be wearing a lipstick with this name on their face.

Another incident that I have last minute heard about is Urban Decay releasing their 'Razor Sharp' Eye-Liners and promoting self-harm by picturing the swatches down somebodies wrist with the person clenching their fist. This could have been an accident but it is slightly suspicious that the Razor Sharp eye-liners were swatched in perfect lines down a wrist and arm; a common place for self-harm to occur. Urban Decay soon deleted the photo of the swatches and responded by stating how "like many beauty brands, we swatch all of our products on the skin to show the texture, vibrancy of colour, and range of shades - usually on the inside of the arm. We in no way intended to reference self-harm as the name of the product is Razor Sharp Liquid Eye Liner". 

The final product(s) that I want to talk about is the high-end brand Nars' collaboration with Guy Bourdin which launched in 2013 in the holiday season. Many fans on this brand didn't think anything of this collaboration minus patiently waiting for the products and swatches to be released. However, Guy Bourdin is a well-known artist who's work is mostly centered around violence to women therefore, everyone associated this collection around the promotion of violence which again, isn't a direct link to mental illness but abuse can often be a trigger point for mental illnesses to develop. Overall, I don't know too much about this artist nor collection to talk for too long but some of the shade names that stood out to me as being seen as offensive includes 'Damaged', 'Cruella' and 'No Limits'. 

Sorry that this post got extremely lengthy but it is important to recognise that shaming mental illness or any illness is an OK thing to do and just be careful about products that you purchase if they are from brands that are known for both directly or indirectly slating important topics and issues. No brand or company should be allowed to bring out products targeting an illness which can enable individuals to feel ashamed of their illness which is out of their control. These products are only fulling the stigma which I have said numerous times and makes my blood boil, as it probably does many other people. I will leave some photos below of other products that I managed to find. Let me know if you've found any others than mine and please remember that these are just my opinions, I don't mean to shame any brand but I don't agree with these products ever even being created. 

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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