How to Manage Your Mental Health in the Fashion Industry

Modelling in the fashion industry may seem like a glamorous and easy job, but nothing could be further from the truth – and it can take a big toll on a model’s mental health. While there are some aspects of luxury and excitement, there is a lot of gruelling hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Supermodels are constantly in the public eye, meaning they are subject to negativity and criticism constantly. Even quickly nipping to the shops is no easy feat when you are a household name and everyone recognises your face. 

It can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing industry to be in, so models absolutely must prioritise their mental health. Here’s how aspiring models should look to do the same. 

Learning From the Past

It’s a good idea to brush up on your modelling history and avoid mistakes previously made by others. A great example of this is ex-supermodel Bridgett Malcolm, who recently spoke up about the industry struggles and self-image issues she had while modelling for the most prestigious brands in the world. Anxiety, depression and eating disorders become difficult to avoid in such a restrictive and overwhelming industry. 

Many models have already gone through mental health issues, and we can listen to their stories in order to avoid following the same path. Learning when and how to say no, protecting your self-worth and ensuring you have enough time off are all essential ways you can protect and care for your mental health.

Physical Health

Exercise and diet are two very important things to models. They rely on their looks for a successful career, so their body and self-image is a priority. Exercise and diet can also affect our mental health; if we over-exercise or under-eat, we are opening ourselves up to the possibility of future mental issues such as eating disorders. Working out has been proven to boost mood as well as keep us fit and healthy. 

We must also ensure we are getting enough sleep regularly and consistently. A lack of sleep can play havoc with our emotions, which can lead to feelings of exhaustion and depression. 

Knowing Your Worth

The fashion industry is infamous for its issues around self-image, in particular weight. High fashion has strict requirements for its models and there are many stories online of ex-models speaking up about the cruelty and bullying they received while in the industry. Many top models have been told they need to lose weight, even whilst already having a low percentage of body fat. This is incredibly damaging to models who often feel inclined to partake in dangerous activities such as over-excising and under-eating to achieve a lower weight. Some have even said they have taken drugs to shift the pounds. This is simply not healthy. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is still not uncommon in the industry, so models (especially young models) must be aware of it. Not only that, but they must feel confident and secure enough to turn down possible roles that require dangerous or damaging weight loss to occur. It’s not worth it; always prioritise your health. 

Looking After Your Wellbeing

Mental health has only recently been brought to the forefront of our care system. Even now, it can often be difficult to find the mental health help we require. Whilst conversations are beginning to happen, there is still a bit of a stigma surrounding mental illness. This should not be the case. You should feel empowered to speak about it, and within your rights to seek help if you need it. There are plenty of places and people out there who can provide you with help; remember, the brain is just another organ. You wouldn’t avoid the hospital if you broke your leg, so why avoid seeking the help of a doctor when you are feeling constantly anxious?

While most of us know how to look after our physical selves, many people don’t know how to care for their mental health. You can start by trying some of the following:

– Ensure you eat enough each day. Try to prioritise a healthy, balanced diet. 

– Get some form of physical activity in whenever possible – a walk in the fresh air can really help. 

– Drink lots of water. 

– Ensure you are not deficient in any nutrients as this can create symptoms similar to those associated with poor mental health. 

– Get lots of sleep each night. 

– Try to allow yourself time away from social media. 

– Spend time with friends and family.

– Open up to someone you trust if you begin to feel out of sorts. 

– Try to be aware of any mental health problems early on, and take action before they become a long-standing, embedded issue.

– Continue to work on your confidence and self-esteem.

– Try meditation. 

– Set boundaries and stick to them. 

Regular time outside in nature can make a big improvement to your mental health.

How to Prevent Mental Health Issues

Preventing mental health issues from occurring is often impossible; just like any other illness, sometimes there is no reason behind it. But there are some things you can do to protect yourself as much as possible. 

This includes looking into commercial modelling. Commercial modelling still has requirements that need to be met but it is far more relaxed than high fashion/catwalk modelling.

You could also protect your mental wellbeing by ensuring you are signed to a good agency. A good agency will respect and listen to its signed models, and will support you if you need it. 

You should also research any brands before you work with them – previous models and staff will have said online if there were any red flags. 

Always read contracts thoroughly before signing anything, and ask a professional if you’re at all unsure. 

Remember – you can walk away at any time. Your job should not be prioritised over your health.

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