I found this picture on Pinterest earlier today with a comment from a young woman underneath saying “I want this shirt”. I’m sure it’s no surprise that I personally do not want this shirt.
Many of us have felt the fear that comes with people finding out you have a mental health issue. Sometimes “coming out” means the loss of family, friends, employment, housing, freedom and dignity. Many of us have hidden our experience and may still continue to do so. We are told to be ashamed of this part of ourselves, demonized and made to feel dirty. We are labeled as disordered in our mood, emotions, personality, behaviours, attitudes, perceptions, thoughts and abilities. As the shirt says, “Hide your crazy”, so that is what many of us do, even if it hurts.
As an added slap this t-shirt brings in gender.
When I read, “act like a lady”, I immediately feel constricted. I envision a woman from the Victorian era, a loss of rights, controlled by men, not having a choice and having to give into social constructions of gender. Who is to truly say that how I act is not “lady-like”? Putting aside the XX chromosomes, breasts, vagina, female reproductive organs and hormones I have, I more importantly identify as a woman, a lady. Therefore, isn’t any way I act being a lady? I would think so.
Putting the two together: a crazy lady is unacceptable according to this t-shirt. A woman who is crazy is not a behaving like a woman and behaving like a woman means not being crazy. This is wrong. No one wins in this scenario.
The oppression contained on this one t-shirt is overwhelming but calling it out and identifying it is how we can stop it. It is important that we speak out against any statements, beliefs and legislation that continue to perpetuate unfair and inaccurate stereotypes. They do nothing but cause damage to not just those it labels but society as a whole. No one truly benefits from the oppression of others as we are all made to fit inside rigid boxes of who we are supposed to be instead of being who we are mean’t to be and being supported in being that person.