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So, this jewellery label is selling ‘depression’ & ‘bipolar’ necklaces

Los Angeles brand ban.do has been accused of glamourising mental illness with its collection – but is that fair?

Fashion doesn’t always get it right and when they get it wrong, they get it really wrong. Lest we forget Urban Outfitters’ ‘Eat Less’ t-shirt – and then there was Zara’s anti-Semitic Pepe the Frog-printed skirt (seriously, why?). 

This week saw the latest scandal, as an American jewellery brand selling necklaces that read ‘anxiety’, ‘depression’, and ‘bipolar’. Yep. ban.do, the LA-based label, states that the aim is not to glamourise mental health issues, but erase stigma. Twitter isn’t quite sold though, obviously. Reactions varied from “Yikes!” and that they’d wear the necklaces as a disclaimer, to others who claim that the “majority of people who see this necklace will not know that it’s to be worn for awareness.”

“Lmao can’t wait for them to bring out “kidney stones” and “type 2 diabetes” designs” was the response of a user who found the funnier side of the argument. Others questioned “where is the outrage when people sell that on pins for mentally ill people to display and break the stigma. Why is it different when it’s made pretty?”

While the brand’s intention was to tackle the taboos surrounding these important issues, many responses to the design discussed the complications of conflating illnesses with a fashion trend to be flaunted. Brand founder Jen Gotch has personally battled with bipolar, and says the designs are intended to “encourage dialogue, and raise awareness, understanding and empathy.”

The brand revealed that all proceeds from the sales will go directly to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit organisation that aims to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. At least one member of the Dazed Digital editorial team said she would happily fly the anxiety flag with a cute necklace, only if it came in silver. Kanye is seemingly owning his own bi-polar status, with his birthday coming up, maybe Kim will consider getting him one too... 

It’s complicated – to some it might be a badge of honour, to others, it’s offensively flippant. What do you think – would you wear a necklace with ‘anxiety’ pendant?