Damaged Goods is inspired by what it feels like to live with mental illness while trying to survive in a patriarchal society. Framing my ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety through the scope of a "bad seed" like Lisa Rowe from Girl, Interrupted, I wanted to explore the isolation, messiness, resentment, exhaustion, and complexity of trying to escape internal and external pressures. From the moment I was deemed a girl, I have absorbed toxic messages about what behavior is acceptable for women. I was taught that beauty is the currency you must pay to be worthy of attention and love. I was told feminine beauty is passive. Compact. Skinny, but not too skinny. Curvy, but not too curvy. Curves in the "right" places. Straight—definitely into boys, but not boy-crazy. Sexy, but not a slut. Natural, but not like that. Natural like pretending that you don't count calories or watch what you eat in order to maintain your figure.
Though there is a part of my brain that looks at these contradictions and scoffs at the fuckery, there is another part of my brain that tells me that I'm not enough and need to be smaller. Take up less space. Soften my edges and hide my imperfections. Carve myself into the perfect image in order to be worthwhile. Cannibalize myself until there is nothing left but bone. Pretend to be natural and effortless to distract others from the fact that I'm not. I often struggle to differentiate between the voice of my depression and that of the outside world’s misogyny.
Women are expected to be clean, delicate, quiet, easy to deal with; society rewards silent suffering and idolizes the women who are able to slip into the unrealistic standards of feminine existence with relative ease. Punishing women who deviate from feminine ideals—women who are loud, difficult, jagged, messy, and unlikable—is a patriarchal pastime. Mental illness in women should not be seen or heard, doctor's orders. If a woman with mental illness rejects that prescription or is unable to contain her struggle and effort, she is shunned.
We shove them aside, ask them to dial it down, and often help push them into an early grave. Then we have the audacity to ask what could have possibly happened to Amy Winehouse and Judy Garland, feigning shame, until we find our next target.
Modeled by Jenny O'Connell
Makeup by Emma Elizabeth
Styled by Nikolett Németh