Fashion bloggers and influencers certainly deliver on the joyful front, what with their impeccably styled photos, carefully curated videos and enviable access to the highest echelons of the fashion industry.
But as it turns out, the photos don’t always tell the whole story.
In a candid video shot during Couture Week in Paris this month, Los Angeles-based blogger and fashion collaborator Aimee Song, who curates the Song of Style blog, revealed her struggles with mental health and past suicidal thoughts.
In a video diary shot in Paris, Song gives her followers a glimpse of her high-flying lifestyle that includes a fitting at the Valentino boutique ahead of the show, before cutting to a clip (2:37) shot in her hotel room where she gets into “real talk.”
“The hardest thing about being a blogger or to have my life out there is to pretend to always be happy,” she says.
Through tears, Song explains that the pressure she feels to keep up appearances weighs on her greatly, and says she gets caught up in the seeming perfection of others’ lives, before acknowledging that her followers probably think the same of her life. She also says that she often “fakes” her confidence, but that fundamentally, “it’s OK to be sad, it’s OK to not feel confident.”
While she doesn’t go into detail about the source of her current sadness, she told Global News that she was aggressively (and at times, physically) bullied at school for being Asian and it caused her to have suicidal thoughts.
“When I was little, I was bullied so bad that I wanted to kill myself,” she says in the video. “And I tried.”
Song’s followers were quick to offer words of support as well as thanks for bringing awareness to the topic of mental health.
“I really respect your honesty and vulnerability in this vlog,” one Instagram commenter wrote. “Seeing you share today how all of us feel broken at one time or another reminded me that you are human just like me.”
“Just want you to know how much we all appreciate you sharing this really hard moment of your life with us, especially because there may be times that we forget that you go through these things too despite your cheerful and bubbly personality that you show on social media,” a YouTube commenter wrote.
Song hadn’t been planning on revealing these thoughts to her followers at the time — it was an organic process.
“I didn’t really know it was the time until I shared it,” she said to Global News. “I filmed the video on my phone at night, not even intending on including it in the video. But I want to be open and honest with all of my followers and stop pretending like everything is perfect, so I put it in.”
She follows in the footsteps of Prince Harry, Lady Gaga and Chrissy Teigen, all of whom have recently opened up about their various struggles with mental health.
“Being in the public eye, I learned to share the good parts about [my] life but not necessarily the negatives,” Song said. “When you hold all of the bad stuff inside and don’t talk about it, it really starts to weigh on you.”
Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius, said that opening up in a public way like Song did is cathartic for everyone.
“For someone who has built a persona on a certain image, it can be freeing to authentically be oneself,” she said to Yahoo Style. “And for the almost 50 per cent of people who will struggle with mental health issues at some point in their lives, it can normalize their experience.”
Although her confession wasn’t premeditated, Song knew that sharing her story was also important to give perspective to herself, her followers and as it turns out, her contemporaries.
“I was so shocked by all the messages that I received not only from my followers, but from my peers in the fashion and blogging industry who said that they feel the exact same way as me,” she said. “I realized that I wasn’t alone, and everyone has their own struggles, but they aren’t forever. I’m so happy that I’m still alive today, that I’m in the position to share my feelings and start a conversation.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help. The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.