Menhera Fashion is Opening Conversations Around Mental Health

 Menhera Fashion is Opening Conversations Around Mental Health

Addy Somers (@addyharajuku) with menhera fashion.

Addy Somers (@addyharajuku).

A fashion subculture that uses medical imagination – like pills, plasters, syringes and even razors – to break down stigmas and start conversations about mental health? It seems unusual, but that’s exactly what the menu is about.

Menhera, or “mental healther” in Japanese, matches the now popular pastel-toned kawaii look with things that are still forbidden like self-harm, PTSD and chronic illness. Its fans say the look inspires an entire community to speak more openly about mental health while maintaining a beautiful aesthetic.

The style originated in the Harajuku district of Japan’s capital, Tokyo, which over the years has produced strange fashion trends – especially since “harajuku” or “Harjuku Fashion” has become a word for a shocking different subcultures. It may come as no surprise that menhera has come to be in a country with a complex relationship to mental health issues, as well as a notoriously high suicide rate; a country where overwork suicides have their own name: with jisatsu.

The hashtag #menhera has – to date – garnered 69.4m TikTok posts and 131,000 Instagram posts worldwide; all content creating a global gallery of shiny razors, silver syringe and noose necklaces. For outsiders, the style is unique and looks extravagant. But people within the community say it has helped them talk about their own mental health-and that the world has a lot to learn from it.

Addy Somers (@addyharajuku), 23, is recognized around the world as one of the leading UK-based content creators within the Harajuku and menera subcultures. His fun, sized pieces within the subject are what led me to discover the menu. Over seven years, Somers has built a following of 100,000 Instagram followers and more than half a million on Tiktok.

“I personally wear a menhera every day. The other day I wore a box cutter as a necklace and beaded candy jewelry that included pills… It tells a subversive story, ”Addy said. “It attracts people because it’s more digestible for the average person. Yes, it’s still unique because it’s a bit ‘weird to look at’ but it’s not scary… I think it allows people to feel that they look cute, while also talking about wearing.

The choice of the wearer within the menhera is usually very personal. Your dress and accessories are a canvas for expression that can change depending on how you felt that day or the topic that affected you. It is an effective form of what is commonly described as “vent art”, a form of expression in which a subject or emotion is “released” creatively; in this case, using fashion.

Menhera is, by nature, inclusive and seeks to promote awareness of mental health as well as invisible disabilities and health conditions. It’s not just about external performances like razors or bandages to raise the issue of self -harm, or syringes for HRT injection or addiction; Designers who sell menhera will also stock several sizes of clothing in that particular style and use soft, loose material to make it easy to wear and move around.

“There are no expectations,” Somers said. “You’re just as valid in wearing comfortable clothes as you are in wearing an elaborate dress with a corset, and so on.” He clarified that the goal of the messenger was not to seek sympathy or attention. It is a statement of empowerment.

“It’s a way to take something inherently negative out of your life and create something you’re proud to wear. I feel like I’ve really benefited from that process, it’s not a case of taking over your experiences, it brings [them] in the foreground in a way that you are in control. It can be very cathartic. ”

Why has fashion become so popular beyond Japan? “Despite the mental health that there is better treatment in Western countries … there are a lot of misconceptions,” he explained. “Mental health is a universal experience that the fashion, art and menhera community can help discuss and comfort!”

Puvithel Rajan (@puvithel) in menhera dress.

Puvithel Rajan (@puvithel). Photo: Courtesy of Rajan, by Mory Laine

Ohio -based clothing and accessories designer Puvithel Rajan (@puvithel) believes that expression through fashion helps people and so she has always used mental health themes in her work. The 30-year-old hopes to use his creations to address health and social issues; She currently works on a PTSD-themed menhera line. The top she wore during our interview read: “I didn’t hurt myself”.

“The hole in the piece I wore was a collab with another artist,” Rajan told me. “In PTSD there is a lot of‘ victim blame ’; the designs are used as a message to remind people not to do that – something has happened to the sufferers that is causing this disease and symptoms. “

“With [the use of medical imagery fashion] in particular, it is about destigmatising. The pills are one I like. I struggled personally with stigma [around using] they. If we take something and make it cute, instead of scary, it will help people no longer feel bad about it or treat it differently. ”

“People have different reasons for wearing menhera,” he added. “I’ve seen people wear co-ords with syringe accessories because they’re on HRT and injecting testosterone, for example.”

Rajan also echoed Somers ’thoughts on empowerment. “Menhera is an activist and political group; ‘ it’s more than fashionable. #Menhera is a safe place for people within the community to chat.

Menhera influencer @sunreiireii posing.

The nature of the menhera’s clothes and its accessories don’t seem to intimidate the outside world, but its followers emphasize that they don’t want to glare or ignore mental health issues. As 23-year-old Rachel Caton (@sunreiireii) said: “Menhera is a term coined by the mental health community for the mental health community … It was never created to trigger.”

Caton, however, acknowledges the possible dangers of some aspects of the menhera style: “I really see someone who could potentially be triggered by it. Unfortunately, people try to imitate the trends they see on the internet that can be misunderstood and they just overdo it. People end up doing bad things if they don’t do enough research.

“People within the community,” he added, “are doing their research and have a deeper understanding of where it’s coming from… When I discovered the menhera, a light bulb exploded in my head and I was like, holy, it’s all. ”

Caton loves to play with different combinations of styles that all fall under the umbrella of Harajuku. “I struggle with mental health and I use my body like a canvas for representing how I felt that day… It’s so much fun when there’s a place that can be like,‘ I feel like shit, but at least I’m look cute. ‘”

Designer Charlotte Remington, (@eggliencreations), 29, uses all things menu within her work. The style, she says, has helped her manage bouts of depression and manic episodes stemming from her bipolar disorder.

“I find that when I’m manic I really need an outlet for all the energy I have, so I experiment with a lot of different crafts and love epoxy resin,” he says. “I started making and designing clothes, bags and enamel pins, most of which had a menu theme… As an artist-and maybe bipolar is also a factor-I always switch between wanting to vent negative feelings and want to please others.people who have positives.My store is full of things that help with those kinds of feelings.

Menhera isn’t the first example of what you might call “vent art” in the fashion world: Back in 2001, Alexander McQueen famously caused controversy in a show inspired by a psychiatric hospital. But despite the initial shock that can be caused to see someone wearing a razor or boxcutter, the menu serves the same purpose in many mental health awareness campaigns-it allows people to express which is “okay just not okay”. It just makes one pastel pill brooch at a time.


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