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Jewellery brand accused of ‘romanticising mental illness’ with ‘depression’ necklaces

'My mental illnesses are not your fashion statement'

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 30 May 2018 11:48 BST
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bando.com
bando.com

An American jewellery brand has come under fire for producing a collection of necklaces aimed to destigmatise mental illness.

The LA-based label has designed a series of necklaces with the words “anxiety”, “depression” and “bipolar” scripted on them in a bid to tackle some of the taboos that surround these conditions.

However, the necklaces have sparked a furore on social media, with users criticising the brand for “romanticising mental illness” via its unconventional designs.

The ban.do necklaces were designed by the brand’s founder and chief creative officer, Jen Gotch, who has personally battled with bipolar disorder and hopes her jewellery will act as a “conversation starter” for those who might be struggling with similar conditions.

“I have struggled with mental health issues for most of my life and I know how challenging it can be both personally and professionally,” Gotch writes on ban.do’s website.

“It’s so important for us to open up a dialogue about how we are feeling and get to a place where we are comfortable asking for and receiving help.

“One thing we can all do is work to remove the stigmas associated with mental illness. These necklaces are a step in doing that.”

All net proceeds from the necklaces go directly to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the stigma that surrounds mental illness and raising awareness.

Despite good intentions, the jewellery has been widely criticised online, with some people arguing that wearing the words “depression” and “anxiety” around your neck may only exacerbate feelings of isolation and segregation that sufferers experience.

Others took issue with the possibility that customers who purchase the necklaces may not necessarily suffer from the conditions they describe and that this could conflate mental illnesses with a fashion trend.

“Yikes,” wrote one person, alongside images of the necklaces in a tweet which has been liked 21,000 times.

“This doesn’t explain how incredibly distasteful this is,” responded one person.

“My depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses are not your fashion statement."

Others praised Gotch for her efforts while suggesting improvements to her designs to make her message clearer:

"Maybe instead of using the actual word, depression/anxiety, use a symbol to represent it?" one person wrote on Twitter.

"It's just a bit odd to walk around with the word depression literally in gold around your neck as if its some kind of wonderful label for us."

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