Self-harm is a serious symptom of mental health issues and low self-esteem.
It is not a fashion statement.
So why is Topshop currently selling temporary metallic tattoos that appear to depict self-mutilation as if they are the ‘next big fashion trend’.
The golden scar tattoos were created in conjunction with a new range of accessories the popular retail store have created to encourage and celebrate loving ones self. The temp tattoos, which have become a popular accessories for the summer festivalgoer for the last few years, were designed in collaboration with a jewellery design student from Central State Martins and currently retail at £8.50 a pack. The packaging also shows the slogan ‘Scars worth fighting for’.
But rather then being met with the positive and empowering response the fashion brand had hoped for, the tattoos have been met with distain and disgust by many people across the net.
This isn’t the first time Topshop have come under fire for their ‘distasteful’ and inappropriate use of mental health issues to promote fashion.
Last year the British retailers were selling clutch bags with the slogan ‘Stressed, depressed but well dressed’ which they soon pulled from their stories after receiving backlash.
Using mental health problems to create ‘fashion statements’ seems to be a worrying and ever popular technique of selling clothes and accessories for a number of high street stores. One of the most high profile being Urban Outfitters, who have produced various garments in the last few years which openly glamorize mental health issues, such as their ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt and the ‘Depression’ crop top.
So let me jump straight into it. There is no doubt in my mind that the products I’ve just mentioned were created and sold to cause offense and upset. Unless you are a child under the age of eight who can’t use their own initiative or intelligence to understand that a t-shirt that read’s ‘Eat less’ is most definitely glamorizing anorexia, then there is no excuse to produce clothing which has such a message.
But I could, in some way, understand where Topshop might have been coming from with these metallic temporary tattoos. Celebrating our flaws and our ‘scars’ rather than being ashamed of our personal struggles is an ideology our society should aspire to and any public figure that encourages this is doing right in my book. Yet, there is no doubt that Topshop have gone about this in the completely wrong way.
The official target market for Topshop is currently 15 to 30 years old.
When I was a youngster, wearing Topshop clothing was something to aspire to. Although pricey, young people are drawn to the shop for its catwalk inspired couture and on-trend statement pieces. The popular vloggers are all wearing it, so why shouldn’t they?
And this is exactly why these temporary tattoos, regardless of the innocent intention of their creation, need to be taken down from Topshop shelves.
Just like the current trend of denim dungarees, there is always the concern that these fashionable accessories could become of ‘aspiration’ to young people who may see the stick-on scars as a ‘fashionable craze’ they should all join.
It all links into the misconception self-harm is often tainted with; that harming one’s self is a form of ‘attention seeking’ or a ‘teenage craze’.
Mental health charities and ambassadors are still finding they come across this misunderstanding in today’s society.
They have spent much time trying to raise awareness and educate people on the truth about self-harm yet actions such as the one’s taken by Topshop completely undermine their efforts.
Fashion and self-harm should never have to be in the same sentence.
The seriousness of self-harm has been completely misjudged by Topshop.
Over half of people who die due to suicide will have previously self-harmed. 1 in 5 young people will suffer from mental health issues.
These statistics are often forgotten by retailers who create such products purely for profit, a profit which even when argued ‘holds a positive message’ will not go towards charities or organisations which work to help the very people who have to ‘fight their flaws’.
Stop glamorizing self-harm. No amount of gold metallic paint will cover the pain and darkness that hides within self-harm. A transferable sticker isn’t going to raise awareness of mental health. If anything it will belittle the many people who struggle with it day in, day out. It’s not a trend and it certainly isn’t a fashion statement that should be encouraged in young, impressionable people.
Education is key and the misuse of an issue as serious as mental health for brand promotion is both wrong and exploitative.
If you know someone who self-harms or you personally have been affected by this story, please seek help and professional guidance. There are a number of organisations out there that can help and support young people and adults struggling with mental health issues.
If you are looking to help a friend who is self-harming, remember that it’s important to listen and leave judgement at the door. When someone is struggling with mental health issues as well as self-harm, they will feel alone and isolated. They may not want to speak to anyone about it.
Self-harm and mental illness should NEVER be seen as shameful as many people suffer alone when they shouldn’t have to.
You can visit these sites to get more information and advice;