for those of you who haven’t seen them on instagram or twitter or tumblr: many social media accounts are popping up all over the internet using tags like “anxiety princess” and “sad teen queen”, touting mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety as – excuse the cliche – 90’s girls touted Country Apple Bath & Body Works perfume and the newest Britney Spears album.
Here we go: mental disorders are not a trend!!
Before I did some research, the sheer idea of this being a problem was a little confusing to me. But after studying a few
BuzzFeed articles Reddit threads badly reputed, yet still credible sources, I determined that maybe this was in fact an issue???!!!??!?!
A quick gloss over the tags in the good ol’ usual butt of pop culture jokes and home of My Chemical Romance lovers everywhere, Tumblr, determined that this ran much more deeply than I’d previously thought. Anyone who’s ever had even the slowest AOL dial-up connection knows that that website is home to some of the most questionable things that have ever appeared on the internet, including all those sites with a single PNG of a sad frog on them. Some examples are blogs promoting meninism, anorexia, and even rape.
I still wondered though – why would you want this? I was sure people wouldn’t think the same of cancer, or leukemia, or some other body-attacking terminal disease. Yet here they were, ranging from 11 to 20, mostly female, white, and middle class, with heavily filtered selfies of them with melancholy expressions and lots of mascara (it was implied that it was waterproof). Their blogs were filled with vague posts about “dealing with sadness” in some font with curlicues and black & white images of some pretty, white girl smoking a cigarette with an “edgy” caption. I would bet five dollars that the user mentioned Effy Stonem or indie music at least once in their bio. But the central feature of these blogs was not British teen soap operas or Arctic Monkeys lyrics on pictures of the sun rising, it was the fact that the person behind the screen had a mental disorder.
So there they were, a little group of people assimilating themselves into the community of people with real disorders, writing their fishy posts with details that didn’t quite add up. Like some sort of funny little clique, they had built a whole identity on these horrible disorders. And then, of course, the blur cleared up just a little. As you probably realized already, like Claire Lyons needed Prada and designer jeans to be a popular girl, these trend-followers needed – or thought they needed – a mental disorder to maintain their carefully groomed blog aesthetics. What they didn’t realize was that you don’t have to have a disorder to continue posting these pictures, or to be friends with and support others in the community. In fact, they probably didn’t consider what would happen once they inevitably got exposed.
By now, it goes without speaking that you have probably realized how disrespectful and flat-out rude this “trend” is. Though I’ve been guilty of it myself, there’s no sense, along with absolutely no ethical or moral basis, in sacrificing others’ dignity for the aesthetic. The bottom line is, mental disorders are serious and real and the people who have them are at a very critical and important place in their lives. Allowing them to be reduced to the level of something to be made fun of or not to be taken seriously is literally (excuse the term) mocking the pain and struggle they’ve gone through. And after all, you wouldn’t want cancer to be the victim of capitalism and be turned into the fodder of “fangirls” everywhere, right? Right?
p.s. what’s a good post without a “the clique” reference?