Has mental health become a parody?
For the past month, photographs of students have been plastered all over campus, from light poles to residential colleges. These photographs are part of the “What I Be” initiative, pioneered by Steve Rosenfield. However, unlike most photo shoots, this one requires participants to bare their most uncomfortable insecurities to the public. The exposition of these sensitive issues, ranging from weight to depression, enables members of the community to realize they are not alone — we are all suffering from insecurities and various self-esteem issues. Just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.
Recently, this project has been made a mockery. Offensive images have begun to circulate on the Internet, images which portray trivial issues as “insecurities.” In fact, I received one of these images in an email from one of the mailing lists to which I am subscribed. The insecurity alluded to was facial hair.
I concede that there may be students who have not experienced low self-esteem or social anxiety, or others who don’t realize how their jokes — although they may mean well — impact other people. However, our community needs to understand the emotional investments behind volunteering to participate in this project. I can understand the concern or fear of potential judgment, or the worry of people discovering an aspect of your life that even you have not yet made peace with. These are all struggles — struggles that affect our interactions with other people. Trivializing these problems gives the impression that our personal issues are unimportant and that the life-changing events that caused these insecurities mean nothing.
Henrietta Keazer ’16