The middle name of the fashion industry is glamour. Not only do the people within the industry seem to live amazing perfect lives but it also has a profound effect on the consumers’ lives. Not only does fashion add excitement and glitz to your wardrobe, but the right clothing item or accessory can scientifically help lift your mood when you’re feeling lousy and even influence your body language and confidence.

However, like everything else in life, every coin has two sides. The massive negative impacts of the fashion industry on people and the environment run alongside its positive potential. The fashion industry is environmentally detrimental to the extent of being the second biggest contributor to global warming due to its huge use of chemicals and water, and toxic emissions in the process of production and transportation. But even beyond that, it is also a huge contributor to mental illnesses in the world today, both for the producers and the consumers of fashion.

mental health, fashion, mental health awareness
Credit | Mic

1. Immense Work Pressure

People engaged with the fashion industry, like fashion designers, professionals, and models, often come off as living glamorous, extravagant lives. While common people looking in might idolize their lives, the fast-paced and unforgiving fashion industry is often damaging to their mental health. On the inside, the industry is hardly the highly romanticized occupation it is made out to be. The associated people are often subjected to extremely stressful and demanding work settings with long hours and numerous deadlines. In the long run, the immense pressure, lack of rest and leisure make a profound impact on the mental health of the people working in this industry.

2. Extreme Competition

Being a creative occupation, the fashion industry has a highly critical and competitive nature. There is continuous pressure on the designers to be innovative, original and ahead of the rest of their generation, this puts them at serious risk of mental illnesses. Continuously creating multiple collections in a single year and being open to continuous criticism for their work promotes self-medicating behaviour with alcohol and drugs which may even help mask mental illnesses for a long time before they are harshly discovered when they cannot be ignored anymore.

mental health, fashion, mental health awareness week
Credit | thesadcollective

3. Mental Illness – A Taboo

With the increasing number of suicides by designers, fashion journalists, fashion students, models, etc., the correlation between the fashion industry and mental illnesses has become very clear. According to a study comparing suicide rates among professions, conducted by the US Center for Disease Control, the fashion industry ranked very high – seventh on the list. In spite of mental health problems being very common in the fashion industry, it still remains quite a taboo within the community. Being such a highly competitive and high-stakes career, mental weaknesses are perceived by the people as weaknesses they do not want to publicize. With little support or acknowledgment for people who struggle mentally, the illnesses end up suppressed until they blow out of proportion.

4. Addiction and Guilt

With every passing day, fashion is becoming more and more diverse, fast-paced and trend-oriented. There are also numerous affordable brands available that make it very easy for regular people to be fashion forward without burning a hole into their wallets. However, what might seem to be a steal on the rack at a bargain price might come at a psychological price. Since fast fashion and bargain shopping immediately give the buyer a dopamine rush, a lot of young people – mostly women, are very prone to making shopping a way to deal with and avoid their stress, depression or anxiety which ends up feeding a vicious addiction. What starts as a passionate escape often ends as a frequent obsession people end up indulging in and leads to financial stress and feelings of guilt over the unnecessary spending and giving in to the craving.

mental health, fashion, mental health awareness week
Credit | Wear Your Label

5. Body image and Criticism

This aspect of the fashion industry affects the models and consumers alike. Body image is extremely important for most women and the ultra-skinny models walking the runway always looking perfect creates unrealistic expectations for themselves in the minds of people. In comparison, they always find themselves inadequate which can lead to a number of mental conditions. The models themselves are under pressure to conform to unrealistic perfection and unnatural body and beauty goals which leads to roughly 40% of models succumbing to an eating disorder.

Hence, the fashion industry makes both its producers and consumers more prone to mental illnesses due to its facade of unrealistic and outwardly perfection. However, a lot of new sustainable brands are developing steadily which provide for all body shapes and sizes including, plus-size-casual-dresses, formal wear, fitness-apparel, etc. More unconventional models belonging to different sizes and ethnicities are entering the industry and pledges and charters are being launched in order to support the mental health of people belonging to the fashion industry. Change is coming slowly but steadily and hopefully, the future fashion industry will be much more supportive of mental conditions.

Guest Author Bio

Jessica Smith has been writing articles for e-business and e-lance sites for more than 4 years. Her educational background is Masters in English and journalism which gives her a broad platform to write on a variety of topics with ease and efficiency. She is an independent writer especially enjoys writing on fashion and lifestyle.


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