Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wear Your Label || Breaking the Stigma

Let's start with the basic one: what is the aim of Wear Your Label?
Our aim with Wear Your Label is twofold; to create conversations about mental health and reduce stigma, but also to help individuals feel that they're not alone, and that they're okay. [We aim to do] all of this through something as simple and subtle as the clothing you wear.

Sparked by the co-owners' personal experience with mental illness - an eating disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and ADHD respectively - Kayley Reed and Kyle MacNevin, 22, launched Wear Your Label in early 2015. Playing on the idea that a label of mentally ill is damaging, "[a] lot of time...receive a negative connotation, people shy away from them, they're avoided..." The duo realised that by turning the negative labels into empowering slogans the type of conversations necessary could be sparked.
Co-founders Kyle MacNevin & Kayley Reed
"...[W]e decided that we'd take an opposite approach, and really be brave enough to take ownership over our labels, talk about them, and wear them proudly..." said Reed, 21.

Ensuring the designs were trigger-free was a major priority for the duo, who say that every slogan came from both personal experience and a place of absolute love. With a range of slogans, ranging in subtly, almost all have come from the founders own personal mantras. A personal favourite of Reed is Self-Care Isn't Selfish. But if you're into something more straight-to-the-point perhaps Sick Not Weak is more your speed.

Reed is adamant that breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness is a key part of recovering. After battling anorexia nervosa, the 21-year-old says that for a long time she remained in denial about what was happening. A large part of this was her inability to believe her own sickness. It was only once she came to a place of acceptance was her treatment successful. "...I think every person has to find that within them[selves]; outside support is important and we always want to create an encouraging environment with our brand, but I believe self-acceptance is truly one of the biggest factors to recovery."

What do you hope someone who sees a shirt around town says?
When we first started, my dream was that two strangers would be walking down the street, both wearing our clothes, and both notice the logo or design. Instantly, they'd have this sort of connection where the knew that the other person had been through a similar struggle or that they just understood mental illness - and were able to go about their day knowing there was one more person out there who 'got it'. Or maybe even just feeling a little safer or more comfortable. A few months after we started WYL, we started receiving emails of stories [from] people [who] had experienced just that.