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Fashion Creativity and Mental Health. Keynote Presentation by Dr Carolyn Mair


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What are the psychological implications of creativity? In this talk Dr Mair will discuss how the pressures in the fashion industry can lead to or exacerbate mental health issues and explore how psychology can be applied to help alleviate these.

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Fashion Creativity and Mental Health. Keynote Presentation by Dr Carolyn Mair

  1. 1. Creativity and mental health within the fashion industry Professor Carolyn Mair PhD http:// @Carolyn_UK DrMairFashionPsychologist
  2. 2. The Most Beautiful Job in the World Dr Guilia Mensitieri (2018) “When we think of exploitation in fashion, we think of sweat shops abroad or sexual harassment of models. But that’s not what I was interested in. I was looking at the creative side: stylists, makeup artists, young designers, interns, assistants.” The Guardian 2nd September 2018
  3. 3. Is working in fashion different to working in other industries?
  4. 4. Suicide by occupation, England: 2011 to 2015 Findings • 12 deaths for every 100,000 = 0.012% of all deaths • The risk of suicide is higher for those working in culture, media and sport • males (20% higher than the male average) • females (69% higher than the female average) • Risk is highest among those working in artistic, literary and media occupations Interpretations • Jobs with low pay and low job security increase risk • People at high risk of suicide may selectively go into particular kinds of occupations • Having access to, or knowledge of, a method of suicide increases risk marriages/deaths/articles/suicidebyoccupation/england2011to2015
  5. 5. Surviving or Thriving? The state of the UK's mental health 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% unemployed lowest income 18-34 years old employed retired Total 85% 75% 70% 66% 50% 65% UK population who report having experienced a mental health problem
  6. 6. 2017 YouGov survey n = 3,006
  7. 7. Is there a link between mental health and creativity?
  8. 8. Has a major impact on others Adapts to change Solves everyday problems Rothenberg, A. (2006). Essay: Creativity—the healthy muse. The Lancet, 368, S8-S9. What is creativity?
  9. 9. Measuring creativity is problematic Duncker’s Candle Problem task (1945) Guildford’s Alternative Uses task (1967)
  10. 10. Are ‘creatives’ more prone to mental health problems than the general population? • Is creativity an indicator of poor mental health? e.g., the 27 Club • Does poor mental health make us more creative? IMAGE: Psychology Forever, Wikimedia CC
  11. 11. Evidence for associations between creativity and mental health is inconclusive, but…
  12. 12. Confirming evidence for a mood-creativity relationship inconclusive Positive vs neutral mood leads to • greater cognitive flexibility and facilitates creative problem solving • less creative production Negative vs neutral mood can • promote creative performance • hamper creative performance • make no difference Negative vs positive mood can • promote creative performance • trigger less creative responding Baas, M., De Dreu, C. K., & Nijstad, B. A. (2008). A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus?. Psychological bulletin, 134(6), 779.
  13. 13. Can genetics predict creativity? • There is a common biology for some mental disorders and creativity • “Painters, musicians, writers and dancers are 25% more likely to carry gene variants that increase the likelihood to suffer from mental illness” • The findings have been, misinterpreted and exaggerated, but… Stefansson, H., Ophoff, R. A., Steinberg, S., Andreassen, O. A., Cichon, S., Rujescu, D., ... & Sigurdsson, E. (2009). Common variants conferring risk of schizophrenia. Nature, 460(7256), 744.
  14. 14. …a relationship does exist • 2 meta-analyses of 3,000 papers by Taylor (2017) concluded creative people: • are likely to develop a mood disorder • tend to work in emotionally demanding jobs • lack job security • have a punishing lifestyle • financial instability Taylor, C. L. (2017). Creativity and mood disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 12(6), 1040-1076.
  15. 15. How does this manifest in the fashion industry? Designer, Jean-Raymond’s ‘Double Bind’ collection styled by Erykah Badu
  16. 16. Fashion’s mental health problem npacking-fashion-s-mental-health-problem
  17. 17. Models • “We are numb as an industry – we are so used to looking at models on the catwalks as clothes hangers that we fail to see whether they are healthy or not. One of the major worries is that the fashion industry sees thin and emaciated as ‘edgy’ or cool. In an ideal world, models would be size 12.” • Prof Caryn Franklin MBE
  18. 18. Fashioning a Healthy Future The Model Health Inquiry • Prompted by BFC’s growing concern about thin models • Focused on developing practical and effective proposals to ensure the industry behaves responsibly, providing support and protection to models
  19. 19. The Model Sanctuary Non-profit drop-in centre founded by Erin O'Connor in 2007-2011 Offered models access to nutritionists, life coaches, osteopaths, and physio- fitness instructors, mixing with like- minded people, food and time to recharge during London Fashion Weeks
  20. 20. Never Skinny Enough Victoire Macon Dauxerre (2016) • “The leaner I was, the bigger I was” • Paris is the worst for body pressures, followed by London, Milan and New York • I was dehumanised and was destroyed psychologically by her experience of modelling • I was not referred to by name or even looked in the eye by many of the designers, or hair and makeup artists
  21. 21. Designers need to keep up with demand and competition while living up to expectations from buyers, retailers, consumers, media and the public as well as their own perfectionist personality …but what about designers?
  22. 22. Are things changing? Image from: cle/31198/1/unpacking-fashion-s-mental- health-problem
  23. 23. @Carolyn_UK #psychFW
  24. 24. British Fashion Council Models First initiative with the British Fashion Model Agency Association talk-festival-coach-teen-vogue British-Fashion-Council-Launch-Models-First-Initiative
  25. 25. British Fashion Council Positive Fashion SUSTAINABILITY
  26. 26. @Carolyn_UK #psychFW