I am interested in the idea of mental oppression with regards to inner conflict in the forms of shame, conscience and mental illness, particularly body dysmorphia. I believe that the conflict between mind and body is fascinating and the idea of a singular being having two conflicting components is one that would be hugely exciting to explore. Many people worry about oppression within society as a whole; however I think that the idea of self inflicted oppression is just as important in the present day. Mental health is a global issue and an obstacle that many people will be faced with throughout their lives, whether directly or via friends and family. At least one in five people suffer from a mental illness, therefore making it a prevalent issue within today’s society and one that should be explored within the creative field.
In regards to health, survival and evolution, should the mind govern the body, or should the body in fact govern the mind? Whilst the mind is capable of intelligent thought and critical analysis, it also has the ability to lose sight of rationality and betray our health. The body itself is much simpler and without conscious thought we know that certain feelings indicate whether we are hungry, thirsty, comfortable etc. For example when we decide to cut back on portion size in order to shed unnecessary weight, is the mind betraying basic bodily needs? Without this intelligent thought, surely we would feed ourselves the correct amount of food and stop when we were full? Other animal species that control their lives governed by natural bodily instinct remain far healthier and yet humans allow themselves to suffer from an intrinsic mental oppression.
In previous projects I have explored the idea of obsession with regards to physical imperfection and the nature of today’s society to strive for perfection in beauty. This struggle can lead to dangerous methods such as plastic surgery, starvation and cosmetics containing chemicals which are hugely detrimental to our health. We originated as a species that fought to survive, but as we have evolved both physically and mentally, we have gained an unhealthy obsession with aesthetics. Many people are oppressed by a mental state that does not compliment their bodily needs and I am curious to discover what role this could play with regards to evolution. We are no longer fighting for survival and instead many suffer from a psychological state that is detrimental to our existence. I would love to find out whether this increase in mental illness is simply due to population increase or whether throughout history we have developed this unhealthy value of aesthetics. Additionally it would be interesting to see if less economically developed countries had similar statistics with regards to illnesses such as body dysmorphia and anorexia or if this was a result of celebrity culture and materialism. Many people blame the fashion and beauty industry for the increasing number of people suffering from anxiety relating to their outward appearance. As an individual wanting to enter this industry, I feel it is important to explore its side effects and the way that it influences the rest of the world.
In this day and age we have achieved huge advancements in the medical and cosmetic fields which can produce irreversible effects. Whilst in the past, people were forced to work through their feelings towards their outward appearances and accept the way they looked, in the present day it is possible to make hasty decisions which result in permanent results. Profiting plastic surgeons are able to facilitate sufferers of body dysmorphia disorder by carrying out multiple surgeries in an attempt to rid them of their external worries. However this often deepens the current obsession with appearance and the sufferer achieves little success to find mental peace. It raises the question of whether our modern advances are detrimental to our psychological health and in a way we are reversing our progress.