"For women in particular, mental illness does intersect heavily with issues of the body. That also means that even the most incidental pairings of mental illness with beauty are treading on complicated ground.
I know this because as I battled severe depression as a teenager, I devoured Wurtzel's Prozac Nation. And though I followed her journey all the way through depression, addiction, and recovery, what I remember the most are the cocktail parties. Wurtzel was young, thin, beautiful, complicated, and in possession of an impressive book deal—to young teenage me, her recovery was hardly the most captivating part of the package.
And my own little version of a beauty-blog support group didn't help.Over the years, I found myself drawn to more and more depressed style icons like Wurtzel: The Royal Tennenbaums' Margot, the girls of The Virgin Suicides, the collection of flawlessly sad young women who stared back at me from the covers of young adult novels.
In many ways, the images of these women helped me to come to terms with my own mental illness—depression was easier to own when it came in such a pretty package. What they didn't do was encourage me to get help. "The implication, at least to teenage me, was that it made you sort of doomed and haunted and irresistible, and thus VERY VERY PRETTY," my friend Jess told me recently about her similar consumption of pop culture depression. "I was not convinced of it to the level of ever talking to any psychologist-type person about it," she said, "maybe because that would puncture my fantasy."" X