A few Saturdays ago, I experienced what can only be described as a minor meltdown (caused by, of course, something that seems completely trivial now). It had been a while since I had been this level of distraught, and the lack of control I felt over my own emotions left me feeling completely helpless and frazzled. I had plans to meet up with some friends later that evening, and as I reluctantly started getting ready, something surprising happened. While I buffed in my foundation, filled in my brows, and carefully tapped my favorite glitter-flecked Tom Ford Shadow Extrême on my eyelids, I felt a peaceful, comforting lull wash over me, not unlike the effect of taking a Xanax. By the time I was finished, I looked in the mirror and felt infinitely better—and not only because my eyeliner was perfectly flicked. The actual act of applying my skincare and makeup was incredibly therapeutic and soothing, like smoothing a healing balm over the open wound of my previous raw, exposed state. I couldn’t believe how much calmer and more in control I felt after just 30 minutes spent with the contents of my makeup bag. But ask anyone who’s swiped on their favorite lipstick before a big meeting or left a hair salon feeling like they’re on top of the world, and they’ll agree: Beauty rituals can empower you, lift your spirits, and completely change your mood. Some might even say that beauty is a state of mind.
This phrase also happens to be our May theme, which we dreamed up in correlation with Mental Health Awareness month. We’ve reported before about how the act of going through your beauty routine can soothe anxiety and dedicated an entire hub on Byrdie to unique, personal, and unexpected stories that challenge our society’s definition of what beauty even means (to wit: not shallow in the slightest). Beauty is not skin deep, nor does it exist as some separate, frivolous entity apart from our mental state. Instead, we’re going as far as to say that the two are intrinsically tied, and it’s a relationship worth exploring on a deeper level.
This month, expect a raw interview with model and activist Adwoa Aboah, who opens up about her own mental health journey; first-person accounts about beauty and mental health from our own community; and even a series all about crying—why we do it, how it affects our bodies, and why we shouldn’t be so afraid to do more of it, smeared mascara be damned (this, coming from someone who literally has a Spotify playlist called “Songs to Cry To”). Many of these stories will be living on our sister wellness platform THE/THIRTY, so I’ve asked Victoria, THE/THIRTY’s managing editor, to share a bit about our coverage on mental health-specific topics below:
May is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth, which marks an opportunity to not only assess your own state of mind but to educate yourself on the conditions that others deal with on a daily basis as well. 9% of Americans have been diagnosed with personality disorders, and the number of adults who suffer from anxiety is close to 20%. Sadly, many of these conditions still carry intense stigmas in our society—much of which stems from a lack of awareness about what they’re really like.
That’s why, this month, we’ll be sharing the stories of people who have been diagnosed with these conditions. In their own words, you’ll hear about their struggles and their victories and about their totally badass and highly productive lives. Above all else, you’ll learn what it’s like to negotiate with a society that makes misguided assumptions about who you are. Knowledge is power, so let’s flip the stigmas, shall we?
It’s time to destigmatize the conversation around mental health. It’s time to acknowledge that beauty rituals can affect our well-being. It’s time to talk about the state of our minds, period.
— Faith Xue, editorial director