Letter from the Editor: “Mood Swings” Issue – Call for Submissions

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.”

Cecil Beaton

 

Welcome, readers!

Stephanie and I are so excited to announce our new indie publication, Monachopsis, a print and digital magazine that caters to the weirdos of the fashion world.  The word “monachopsis,” coming from the dictionary of obscure sorrows, is defined as “the subtle yet persistent feeling of being out of place.”  This term really stuck with us as we were developing a concept for the magazine, as we both know a thing or two about being misfits from our years of bullying and just being made to feel weird by our peers for our colorful fashion choices.  

Over the years, we’ve met a lot of other people who have felt exiled from the fashion industry on far deeper levels due to their gender, race, age, income level, and so on.  Now, Stephanie and I can’t claim to know what this lack of representation feels like firsthand, because we see cis-white female faces plastered on magazine covers all day, every day. And I won’t even pretend to equate our own middle-class white experiences to those of marginalized groups, because they are not remotely the same.  

What I can say from my experience is this:  The fashion industry is fucked up.  It’s been this way for a while.  The worst part is, Fashion (capital F intended) doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge its fucked-up-edness; living under a facade of progressivism, Fashion is instead notorious for tokenism, fetishism, appropriation, patronization, and most aptly, quotas.  It’s disgusting.

Fashion should be steeped in a sense of identity, as manifested through one’s outward appearance. Fashion is meant to stand for inclusion, for propelling diverse groups of people towards their goals instead of doing everything in its power to hold them back using shady business practices, for representing people from ALL walks of life and not just the wealthy, cis-white few. Fashion should not only breed but celebrate weirdos (a collective term of endearment used to identify our readers that you’ll come to hear a lot of on this site), because what makes us different is what makes us unique and interesting. We want to use our position of privilege to tear down mainstream Fashion’s capitalist agenda, one issue at a time.

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Whether it’s because of the consumerist nature of the beast, the heightened expectation of fashion designers to put out as many collections as possible during the year to increase potential revenue, or the rise of Kendall and Kylie Jenner, the current fashion landscape has morphed into a giant ball of “blah.” The element of “sameness” is palpable and dare I say, damaging.

It’s not just permeating the runways, either.  On the interwebz, many fashion bloggers, influencers, and even photographers and stylists follow a formula with their content, because it’s safe. Even those who have a tendency to “push boundaries” still fall within a certain realm so as not to alienate their readers or, more aptly, their sponsors too much–what we in the industry call a “calculated risk.” As a society, we’ve let numbers dictate the type of work we can and can’t put out, and that kills any and all impulse of creativity, collaboration, or community.

And you know what? THAT IS SO DAMN BORING.

If I can’t tell you apart from the others in your niche or if you don’t speak out on the fucked up shit that’s going on, what do you have to offer to the fashion community? Even more so, what makes your content interesting if it’s all formulated?

At Monachopsis, we’re major proponents of oddballs, because we believe weirdness helps a person’s work stand out amongst a sea of beige (both metaphorically and literally, thanks Instagram) and leads to genuine relationships with readers. Because we were frustrated by the blatant sexism, racism, transphobia, and other discriminatory elements that seem to get glossed over due to the prominence of the patriarchy in publishing, not to mention how blasé and predictable the industry has become, we decided to launch our own magazine.  To highlight the people who have creative ideas that might not necessarily jive with the sartorial status quo.  To lift up marginalized groups by giving them a place to submit their work.  To create a space free of the pervy male gaze, where we can shamelessly talk about fashion.  Most of all, we want to showcase amazing work by weirdos, for weirdos, regardless of their “following.”

As such, the theme for the premiere issue of Monachopsis is “Mood Swings,” which explores mental illness as it manifests itself in both limitless and destructive ways, as two sides of the same coin.  The name of the issue is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, as a lot of people seem to have a misconception about what experiencing mental illness firsthand is actually like.

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More often than not, mental disorders are romanticized in pop culture (take note of films or TV like 13 Reasons Why, The Virgin Suicides, or Girl, Interrupted), and I have to say I get rather nauseated to see these illnesses glorified in such a flippant and aesthetically-pleasing fashion, especially whenever they’re in conjunction with the fetishization of young female bodies.

I struggle with social anxiety, depression, and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), and suffice it to say that I’m not nearly as glamorous as 1999-era Kirsten Dunst is portrayed to be.  Sure, there are days when I’m on a creative “high”: I style impeccable fashion editorials, I share amazing outfit photos, and I pump out articles that carry the weight of what feels like pure gold, while carrying a false sense of superiority and self-righteousness. I make lists out the wazoo because 1) I can’t seem to organize my thoughts, and 2) I get super paranoid that I’m going to forget my ideas unless I write them down RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT. I get so wrapped up in my work and doing it right that I’ve alienated friends, former boyfriends, and family members. At the same time, I’m riding a wave of inspiration almost as if it’s my life force; it’s also at this point that the restlessness boiling in my veins manifests itself in physical ways, most notably the intense shaking of my right leg.  Relaxation isn’t an option.

Other days, that energy dissipates, and I’m left with a hot mess of a brain: I lose track of the last time I took a shower. In fact, I lose track of a lot of things, because a depressed brain is a forgetful one. I avoid social events because the thought of face-to-face interaction with an actual human causes me to break out in hives on my chest and neck. I cry, a lot, and I get super irritable, only to crash into a two-hour nap where I still feel exhausted afterwards. I have panic attacks over dumb shit like going to the grocery store or making phone calls at work. I have episodes of depersonalization, where I don’t even recognize my own face in the mirror or I can feel myself hovering over…well, myself, as I try to make sense of a situation. Thoughts of self-harm play in my head over and over and over again (to this day, garbage disposals still get to me). There have been days where I quite literally wanted to end my life, over nothing at all other than a nagging impulse of worthlessness, because what’s the point, anyway??  That shit is scary, man, and it’s exactly the side of mental illness that we don’t see in mainstream media.

Kierkegaard perfectly sums up the duality of anxiety in his work The Concept of Anxiety:

“Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs to dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go. In that very moment everything is changed, and freedom, when it again rises, sees that it is guilty. Between these two moments lies the leap, which no science has explained and which no science can explain. He who becomes guilty in anxiety becomes as ambiguously guilty as it is possible to become.”

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For this issue, we want you to explore this dichotomy of mental illness, to translate these elements in your work as you see fit.  On our submissions page, you’ll find more information on sending in materials on this subject in the form of fashion editorials, photography, writing, illustration–whatever format you feel is appropriate.

The theme is wide open to interpretation, but here are some examples of some work we’d like to see, although don’t feel confined to these subjects; rather, use them as a jumping off point:

  • An examination of performative masculinity and mental health
  • Themes of fear, sadness, isolation, powerlessness, and rejection
  • Themes of creativity, strength, virtue, healing, and compassion
  • The personification of various mental illnesses
  • Color stories reflecting sudden changes in mood or mental state
  • Exemplifying concepts of mental disorders using photographic techniques, like double exposure or saturation
  • A visual representation of what your brain feels or operates like
  • Personal experiences of mental illness as a member of a marginalized group
  • An exploration of the racial and economic divide when diagnosing and treating mental illness
  • Addressing the misconceptions or tropes of mental illness
  • Stories of learning about and coming to terms with your specific mental illness, what impact its had on your quality of life, etc.
  • Experiencing effects of mental illness in intimate relationships

Here’s what we DO NOT want to see and refuse to print:

  • Depictions of suicide
  • Any romanticizing of any mental illness, period
  • Graphic images or language including but not limited to pornography, violence, or hate speech

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For those of you who are currently struggling with mental illness, please know that we are here for you, and most importantly, we understand–at least on some level.  There’s no shame in getting help to improve your quality of life if you have the means to do so, whatever sort of methods those entail.  For those in the throes of coping or healing, we’re proud of you for keeping up the hard work.

For those of you who have friends, significant others, or family struggling with mental illness, shower these individuals with support.  Approach them to make sure they’re doing okay if you haven’t heard from them in a while. Do what you can to recognize patterns in their behavior and offer your time if they are feeling isolated or overwhelmed and just need a hand. Remind them that they aren’t alone, that the shitty thoughts they’re having don’t necessarily reflect reality, and that you’ll do everything in your power to help as needed.

We’re looking forward to seeing your work.

Love now and furever,

Kristen Milford
Editor-in-Chief