by Ginevra Lucà Rosi & I’M Firenze Digest Editors. Images by Ginevra Lucà Rosi.
Fashion is a filter to look at people and understand their feelings, thoughts, emotions and attitudes, but it also highlights everyone’s internal conflicts and fears. Balance, a biannual independent magazine of arts, fashion and psychology, wants to dig into these topics. Edited by Ginevra Lucà Rosi, a Fashion Styling & Creative Direction student, the magazine wants also to spread the importance of mental illnesses.
The magazine is for those who know how to face and embrace the complexities and nuances of life rather than limiting their vision of the world. Psychology Dresses the Body is an essay from issue 01.
FASHION AS A FILTER FOR UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS
It is often the case that statistics only reveal phenomena years after they have occurred. However, due to the unique circumstances, we find ourselves in, it is easier to gain a collective understanding of how we cope in a world that seems to be on the verge of collapse. Recent research has confirmed what many of us have suspected for a while now: Gen Z is the demographic most affected by the events of 2020, struggling with the pressures of social media and a pandemic that has worsened their loneliness and insecurities.
Life is taking off again, social connections are being restored, and mental health problems are rising. New fears are forming, and young people are confused in the face of this comeback. The post-COVID Summer could be defined as the return of FOMO (fear of missing out), the return to everyday life with friends, school, family, and work, but the looming threat of new lockdowns and the feeling of fear and insecurity have led to the new acronym FOCO (fear of going out).
“I no longer remember how to socialise, how to behave with others” (Roberto, 24 y.o.)
“Our social muscles are atrophied” (Greta, 23 y.o)
The younger generations have become accustomed to living an indoor life, with their routines and online meetings; they are afraid to step out of their comfort zone and feel disconnected from a reality that has been standing there for a long time.
The pandemic and lockdown have changed the priorities of the younger generation, who focus more on themselves and their mental health. A sense of crisis is emerging now that the safe bubble is breaking.
Adapting to the change is easier, but returning to the lost normality is more complicated and can lead to fears and mental issues.
Living with bipolar disorder is a bit like being at the mercy of a series of uncontrollable forces that seem to come from the outside, a Pindaric leap between meditation on the beauty of creation and absolute nihilism.
SOCIAL MEDIA, A STAGE FOR SPEAKING ABOUT DEEP INTIMACY
Instagram, TikTok and Facebook have become popular yet controversial platforms for speaking publicly about private matters. The relationship between social media and mental health is no longer a new topic, and Bella Hadid’s recent confession has sparked a new debate. There is a feeling of ‘depression’ in talking about one’s problems on social media as if the screen played an important role, the role of a barrier.
Kanye West fights the social stigma by refusing to hide his illness and talk about it openly. But the real problem is that Kanye does not end up ‘locked in an attic’ just because he is Kanye; the average person in his position is immediately subject to TSO, or at the very least, would lose his job. At the same time, the ambivalence of Ye (Kanye West’s nickname) is easier to identify with than a tearful selfie of a beautiful, white, rich girl like Bella Hadid. The rapper uses his economically and socially privileged position to raise awareness of a topic largely ignored by the establishment and, at the same time, acknowledges that he can talk about it precisely because of this privilege. The social stigma exists and is among us. If, for a creative person, a mental disorder can be a sixth sense or the engine of creativity, it is a painful ordeal for ordinary people to fit into a society that often ignores everyday struggles.
HOW ARTISTS USE FASHION AS A THERAPY
Willem van Genk had a unique way of coping with his past traumas designing mackintoshes. Hélene Reimann’s sketches represented an escape from the psychiatric hospital where she was confined. Giuseppe Versino’s clothes, sewn with cotton threads salvaged from old rags from the kitchens of the mental institution where he was hospitalised, were true sculptures. These three artists from the last century found solace in creating clothing and other coverings that acted as a therapy for their individual struggles.
“Mirror Mirror. Fashion & The Psyche’ is a Belgian exhibition focusing on the darkest and most hidden aspects of the dress-mind relationship. It emphasises the extent to which a dress can ‘strip’ an individual, becoming a tool to decipher and heal his psyche. It’s not just established designers who come up with fashion trends, but anyone can create them in private settings like their living room or even a psychiatric facility. Clothing can send a message or fulfil personal desires in the ongoing dialogue with the fashion world.
“We already know that a dress tells a lot about the wearer, but the narrative must be read through two inseparable media: besides the body, the psyche.»
Elisa De Wyngaert and Yoon Hee Lamot, curators of the exhibition Mirror Mirror – Fashion & the Psyche (Antwerp – Ghent 2022/2023).
Fashion is a filter through which we look at people to understand feelings, thoughts, emotions, and attitudes, and it also manages to highlight internal conflicts and fears.
It is a fundamental key to unlocking our imagination, the same used by Jorg Karg, a master in collage art and the author of a vibrant, imaginative body of works.
Gifted with a surreal visionary talent, Karg selects photographs from diverse sources; he then manipulates bodies and objects, combining and layering them in a deliberately disproportionate manner.
Under a new approach, the artist merges conflicting worlds, forms and languages to produce irrational and disturbing images that defy reality. They showcase a powerful and unsettling aesthetic impact, capable of metaphorically leading the onlooker to utopian and imaginary worlds.
All art forms, from fashion to collages, represent the best therapy to express our being, experiences and unexpressed or ‘unlived’ emotions. Art facilitates social inclusion and helps us avoid isolation during difficult times.
As human beings, we possess an unconscious ability to translate our sensory impressions and primal emotions into mental images that stimulate our minds.
This artistic process occurs almost imperceptibly, revealing that the artist within us has been present all along. There is madness in painting, suffering in fashion, but also balance in sculpture and pleasure in photography: does this mean there is a bipolar disorder at play?
The central point is the struggle against logic, against the rational link between time and cause, and the acceptance of every aspect of the irrational, from play to magic, from chance to absurdity, because this is the only way to fully affirm the totality of being.
Generation Z places a high value on expressing their true identity and being authentic, which involves many aspects of their life and is crucial in their personal development, where respect, acceptance and inclusion are fundamental pillars of a rapidly changing emotional and psychological well-being.
Awareness, inclination and openness in living with the disease, rather than denying and rejecting it, helps to make a difference today. Today, change is possible thanks to Generation Z, who have the tools and the drive to initiate and make progress together. Mental health is no longer an abstract concept but a universal struggle. Turn everything off when you feel mentally and emotionally fatigued and talk to someone about it. They will develop empathy, and only then will the stigma be addressed..