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Depression as fashion…not

I have a few questions about Urban Outfitters controversial “Depression” shirt – like who the heck would wear that?

You’ve got a cropped t-shirt (who even wears those anymore?) covered the word “depression” in a busy pattern of different size letters. In the t-shirt’s defense, “Depression” is the name of the clothing line. Really? Who names their clothing line after a mental illness? What’s next?

tshirtWell, I don’t know what’s next but I can tell what the last shirt that got Urban Outfitters in trouble. It’s the one that said “Eat Less” on an emaciated teenager. REALLY? I mean, REALLY? You tell me that there was a photo shoot at some studio and the stylists put an “Eat Less” t-shirt on an emaciated teenage model and SOMEONE in the studio didn’t say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is not cool. We can’t do this!”

And there is some buyer at Urban Outfitters (who apparently didn’t get the memo about the Eat Less shirt) who saw the Depression t-shirt and thought, “Ooooo! We just have to carry that shirt!”

Don’t get me wrong. I like a lot of the stuff that Urban Outfitters sells. In fact, I just got a pair of tangerine Chuck Taylors for $10. Obviously, I don’t have much fashion sense but I love a good deal. But what little fashion sense – and common sense – I have were thoroughly insulted by the “Depression” t-shirt.

As for the mentally-ill, mental health advocate in me, I hear a tiny little voice saying…”but it is raising awareness of depression – that horrible illness that nearly destroyed you. And aren’t we trying to get depression out into the open? There are all kinds of breast cancer shirts, like “Save the Boobies” and “They’re fake. The real ones tried to kill me.” How come you are not offended by that?”

Who gets to decide which afflictions are appropriate – even hip – to emblazon on a t-shirt? Because you know, like, depression and breast cancer are NOT cool.

Urban Outfitters pulled shirt, which apparently wasn’t selling too well anyway. I didn’t see the Depression shirt when I was shopping for my Chuck Taylor’s but I hear it was marked down to $9.99 from it’s original price of $59. Who pays $59 for a crop top?

Even if I had seen it for $9.99, I would not have bought it and not just because a crop-top does not look good on a 55-year-old woman with depression. I ask myself, “What if part of the proceeds of the sale of the shirt went to research or treatment for depression? Would you have purchased it then?”

Probably not. I’m open about my mental illnesses – I have alcoholism, too – but I don’t feel compelled to wear clothing emblazoned with my diagnoses. Urban Outfitters pulled the shirt with a huge mea culpa. You have to wonder who is running the show there. I like edgy stuff too, like tangerine Chuck Taylor’s, but someone at Urban Outfitters needs to have a cup of common sense before they come to work in the morning.




Depression as fashion…not

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2014). Depression as fashion…not. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Jan 2014
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