While we are now more aware of the affect and impacts that mental illness has on our daily lives, we are forever pushing it into an aesthetic. This grants us the chance to talk about mental illness in a childish, poetic and fake fashion. With the constant documentation of our lives on social media, particularly Instagram, we are allowed to be brutal and gritty, and to talk about how our lives are affected by mental illness more than ever. On one condition: the documentation must be pretty.
This is something that has directly affected and damaged my perception of mental health. It now feels like we cannot talk about our difficulties in just getting out of bed, in going out fearing of germs or answering the door with a stutter and a shaky voice, unless it is in the form of a pastel pink party, filled with roses and a tower of iced coffee and cookies. So many treat others with mental illness as children, patronising those who have anxiety attacks and filling their lives with Instagram comments telling them ‘it will be okay xx love the pic.’
We will talk about mental health and frame it with a sunset, glorifying ‘mad’ women, but the damage this glorification commits is only seen by oneself.
My goal in creating Soft Pink was to show this childhood party of the aesthetic, a presentation of self to Instagram, pale pink and pretty. But to also show how there is something wrong, how this grittiness hidden within these photos highlights the moment when one realises that they are not a pastel party, and that they must clean up the glasses. I want to show that mental health is not as simple as a children’s tea party, that there are layers and layers below.
While it is amazing how we now talk about mental illness more and more, we will only stop supressing the truth of mental illness when the party is over, and when the towering aesthetic of soft pink falls down.