Your Say: MENTAL HEALTH IN FASHION

We reached out to members of the fashion industry to talk about their experiences, both good and bad. Here’s what they had to say…

“In the fashion industry we as models (former model, now a Fashion Psychologist) are trained not to show any affect in order to sell the clothing. Specifically in using affect in psychology it deals with verbal and non verbal displays of emotions. Models must put their emotions aside to sell clothing, accessories. Products, etc. Consequently, this causes models to mask their feelings and not deal with them until they come pouring out at the seams (usually due to an unexpected trigger). Masking although required within the fashion industry, is not beneficial for ones mental health in the long run. I would encourage models to have a therapist if they decide to take on this career path.”
Fashion Psychologist Dawnn Karen. Her book Dress Your Best Life is publishing 26/03/20 and is available to pre-order now on Amazon.

“I’ve been in the fashion industry most of my career which has been about 15 years (titles include: fashion PR agency owner, fashion photo shoot creative director, fashion digital marketer, runway show producer, and fashion e-commerce consultant–all in New York City) and have learned that the industry takes a toll on your mental health. I’ve had my fair share of good and bad experiences with clients, models, photographers, stylists, and makeup artists (more positive than negative experiences). Here are my best tips to protect your mental health in the industry:
Don’t let anyone railroad you into doing something you don’t think it right.
Stand up for yourself when you feel like as if someone is taking advantage or disrespecting you. Self-respect is key to surviving the industry.
Be transparent, honest, and realistic when it comes to client relationships. The most important thing is to manage their expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page. Honesty and transparency are paramount when dealing with client issues.
Whether you’re a model, a fashion designer, a fashion publicist, or a makeup artist, be prepared to work extremely long hours in a highly competitive and demanding workplace for very little pay. Exhaustion and mental fatigue often come with the industry so learn self-care early on.
Be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. You’ll have to do a lot of grunt work in the early days–it’s all part of paying your dues. Don’t let it get you down or make you feel inferior. It’s nothing personal–it’s just part of the job.”
Kristin Marquet, founder and creative director at FemFounder

“It is known that many times they look for a prototype model. Tall, blond, clear eyes and very pretty and many of us do not risk going by now. We know what they are looking for, plus size models are very few that call to be in the magazine without knowing many times all our achievements, experiences, and how elegant we are.”
Sofia Palacios Caraza, model

“GOT EATING DISORDER AND STARTED SMOKING BECAUSE YOU GOT TO BE SKINNY”
Lauryn Leiti

“Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, I didn’t feel like I truly belonged and was bullied throughout high school because of my sexual identity. When I moved to New York City in 1998 and became a fashion stylist, that all changed. In the high fashion world, I found a community of people like me. Being gay was embraced instead of being seen as strange or something to be ashamed of. But the depression and anxiety I struggled with throughout my life didn’t magically disappear when I entered the fashion industry. I started using drugs and alcohol in high school to numb the pain of my loneliness and insecurity, and my use increased in the heavy-partying fashion scene. The industry that once welcomed me ended up being my downfall. I ultimately decided to leave that world to pursue my recovery and learn to accept myself for who I am.”
Jason Arsenault, Director of Recovery Coaching at Mountainside Treatment Center. A former fashion stylist who struggled first-hand with depression, anxiety, and crystal meth addiction, Jason is now a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach. He draws from his experiences as a gay, HIV-positive man in recovery to help others strengthen their well-being and overcome the stigma attached to mental health disorders.

“Every year we take the time to organise an event that highlights the important of self care as a creative, particularly as a creative in fashion, whether you are a designer, behind the camera or taking care of press. The fashion industry is known for being cut throat, highly competitive and often not so exclusive, a combination of elements that can take a toll on mental health. Because of this it is important to teach the balance of hard work and remaining passionate while being aware of yourself and surrounding yourself with a network of people who are reliable and have your best interest in mind. This is a very diicult balance, as founders of Colèchi, we have found ourselves taking on extra jobs, having sleepless nights and battling towards deadlines, however for every manic period of work we make sure that we give ourselves a day or so to do nothing, be around good company and relax. It is even better that we have a great relationship as business partners and are able to be open and honest about work load engagements and how much we can handle. Being passionate is a uniue trait that often means work and life merge together,which is great, however we need to encourage honest conversations with each other on areas that affect our joy, from being open about money to being around toxic colleagues and even picking up projects that do not align with our personal values”
Piarvé and Tina at Colèchi

“I FIND THAT I DEAL WITH A LOT OF STRESS AND ANXIETY RUNNING MY CLOTHING LINE AS BOTH THE DESIGNER AND THE HANDLING ALL ASPECTS OF THE BUSINESS SIDE. I HAVE TAKEN UP WEEKLY MEDIATION CLASSES AT A LOCAL STUDIO IN MY HOME OF DALLAS. I FIND THAT MEDITATION REALLY HELPS ME RESET AND KEEP ME CALM WHEN ANXIETY HITS ME.”
PHILLIP WHITE, DESIGNER OF PHIT CLOTHING

“My coping mechanism are to not follow trends, yet to appreciate them, but to always being true to my authentic style and not being a slave to the fashion industry. When we have a high dose of self-worth we stop trying to be someone else, and for me this is the same in fashion and style.

Ways in which I have cultivated self worth is to stop trying to be liked by everyone, in every aspect of my life. To tap into my inner strengths and really getting to know myself through meditation and journalling.It is impossible to create your own authentic style if you don’t get to know yourself on a deeper level.

It is important to not compare yourself to others and follow people as inspiration and not use them as a reason to self destruct and fall into the negative spiral.”
Lou Stokes, Style and Confidence Coach

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