Cute But Can We Not?

** RANT WARNING **

Cute But Psycho. It seems to have become a staple in the vocabulary of Fiat 500 Twitter type girls in the past few years, with major retailers stocking print t-shirts and using the phrase to advertise to their customers. To me, I find the phrase highly damaging to the perceptive of mentally ill people like myself and women as a whole.

As a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, I straddle the line between psychotic and neurotic (hence the borderline bit). These terms are no longer used by mental health professionals in the UK, which has led to the disorder becoming known among professionals as Emotional Instability Disorder. This leads me to my first point; if mental health professionals find the term ‘psychotic’ too damaging to those with disorders like BPD and bipolar, then why is it okay for women to reclaim this and for retailers to stock items mocking the word?

The term ‘psycho’ is a huge issue when it comes to reducing the stigma that surrounds most mental health difficulties. Labelling people a psycho without getting to know about their disorder and the way it affects them builds a barrier between people with difficulties and those without. I’ve had people I thought were huge parts of my life label me as a psycho during arguments, even just causally, and it stopped the conversation about what my disorder does to me and how I actually live a rather normal life.

Flash back to the Halloween of 2013. Asda and Tesco both produced and sold costumes titled ‘Mental Health Patient’, with Asda’s depicting a blood-covered man with unkempt grey hair, wielding a knife dressed in a straight jacket and Tesco taking a prison jumpsuit and pairing it with a syringe and a half face mask. Both of these depictions of mental health patients were atrocious, and the fact that we were labelled as scary was heartbreaking. Obviously, these two costumes were quickly pulled off the shelves, but it proved that the stigma was still there. The popular phrase ‘cute but psycho’ has been doing the rounds for years, with huge retailers like Missguided and Boohoo getting in on the action (with Boohoo’s version being part of their Halloween range). Granted, this depiction is nowhere near what Asda and Tesco did, but should they still be allowed to push this image of psycho?

Also, why would women want to brand themselves as psycho? Surely this just drags us kicking and screaming back to the 1940s, when men could label us as hysterical for the slightest little thing. Trust me girls, you’re not psycho because you had an argument, you’re normal, these things happen. You are also not psycho because you get jealous, that’s also a pretty normal reaction in a relationship.

I do think people need to think more about the language they use in every day life, and think about how that language affects other people. Racism, homophobia and language talking about physical disabilities are all incredibly frowned upon in today’s society and is enough for someone to be demonised, so why aren’t mental disabilities and mental illnesses taken into consideration and treated the same?

Rant over.

Emily x

Image credit: Pinterest

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