Effy Stonem from Skins was not a role model
She was romanticised in all the wrong ways
Effy Stonem was the 2009 goal. Dark hair, black lined eyes, shrouded in mystery – every angst-y fourteen year old girl’s dream. Everything always miraculously turned out okay for her despite the fact that her friends had been murdered and gone to prison in the middle of her wild antics. All of this I can deal with. Effy isn’t real. So what am I so bothered by?
It’s quite simple – Effy is the embodiment of glorified ill mental health.
Some may say I’m taking this way too seriously. She was a fictional character whose life was completely unrealistic in so many ways. And surely, teenagers wouldn’t be so willing to replicate someone who is clearly suffering from mental health issues, would they?
Sadly, they would. Many teenagers attempted to replicate her look – effortless yet glamorous. They wanted the life too, the drugs and the drink and the boys. However we all know what made Effy so endearing – she was “fucked up”.
Now, I’m not saying that every teenage dream was that of mental health disorders. The real problem lies with the fact that Effy’s condition was completely covered up by romance. Her most prominent characteristic was that she was problematic, and this characteristic is what brought her attention from Freddie, JJ and Cook. She smoked and stared and cried and didn’t care. She wore torn clothes and had make-up smeared across her face and looked flawless with every step she took on her path to destruction. She was depressed, and bipolar. She disregarded everyone’s feelings for her own sense of self-entitlement. She was careless. But that was the dream.
Amongst the sex and the drugs and the partying and the heartbreak, there was no sign of the true ugliness of mental health illness. Skins failed to show Effy in her bed, not with a three day hangover but because she couldn’t bare to leave her room. Skins failed to show the isolation of depression, and how sometimes friends and boys aren’t going to just wait for you to call the shots. They think you’ve stopped talking because you’re mysterious but it’s actually because you have nothing to say without screaming or crying. Skins doesn’t show us the filth or the ugliness or the despair or the tiring nature of depression.
Skins showed us slow rock songs and reading books. It showed us abandoned human connections being fixed in an instant. Skins showed us that it’s cool to be sad and it’s cool to feel nothingness. Skins showed us beautiful destruction.
Skins gave us Effy Stonem, who is the most dangerous fictional character on television. If she was designed to be a cautionary tale, they should have made her a realistic one.