Call Me Crazy But…
Nicole Melzack questions whether designer disorders are acceptable.
Our age of mental health awareness could be doing more harm than good, with celebrities sensationalising what should be seen as illnesses.
The amount of people ‘coming out’ about mental health issues has increased exponentially. It was so brave when Stephen Fry first admitted to having Bi-Polar (starting a wave of celeb confessions) and now Frankie from The Saturdays has been talking frankly about her depression. The media report so often of celebrities’ eating disorders than there really is no need to name names, I’m sure your mind is conjuring up images of sickeningly skinny snaps that you’ve seen in magazines. Then there’s addiction, don’t even get me started on addiction. It is the sickness of our times, and Hollywood rehab is the cure. Reports of struggling stars is something we have lapped up from day one, we read and discussed Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty,… oh my how the list goes on.
What should we be taking from all of this press? Should we be thinking that it’s okay to have a mental health problem? The message I am actually getting is that it is ‘in’ and ‘cool’ to have a designer illness like depression or anorexia nervosa. Stars seem to talk so melodramatically about their lives that people are starting to envy illness. One of the many causes of eating disorders is not the magazines showing skinny celebs, but the celebs telling the magazines of their personal struggles with the disease. Images of people ‘at their worst’ seem to be everywhere – making it normal, no, more than normal, making it glamorous.
We don’t see cancer being glamorised in such a way – and for anyone to even suggest that Jade Goody’s public battle with the illness encouraged people to want cancer would be wrong. The attention she got actually led to many women getting themselves checked out, and may have even saved lives.
I’m not against celebrities selling their lives to the magazines, it does provide some light entertainment, however I feel that when illnesses and disorders are reported in such a glamorised way, it can only cause two things: either people will think that mental health problems are a status symbol, a sign of having ‘made it’, having ‘been through enough’ to warrant the affliction, or they will be thought of as a celebrity fad, further placing a stigma on our mere mortal sufferers.