I don’t understand.
How can wearing a shirt that says “I want to die.” be... helpful?
It’s not unreasonable to be put off by menhera at first face value.
The words and art are not what you expect. The topics are taboo.
The initial reaction is often one of shock.
I ask you to put aside your gut reactions and listen to the menhera community for a moment.
Self harm and bad coping mechanisms happen for a reason - the brain is trying to process and get through difficult times. Venting through art and community can help process these feelings in a constructive and non-harmful way.
Sometimes we just need to scream our feelings into the void, and wearing vent art is a way to do that.
Acknowledgement and acceptance of our struggles is an important part of coping and healing.
Sometimes, the quiet acknowledgement of your issues can be enough to get you through the day.
I personally don’t like to share the details of my trauma. There have even been times when friends became overwhelmed when I’ve told them my story.
Yet it is still essential that I express my problems to heal.
Wearing small references and metaphorical art allows me to silently reveal my inner struggles in small, digestible pieces.
To be menhera is to want to better your mental state and the mental state of those around you.
Menhera isn’t a particular character, style of clothing, or color scheme.
Menhera is and has always been about community and activism first and foremost.
The menhera community bands together to help each other through our health issues. We stand up for each other in the face of adversity.
With our art and clothing we have a simple message to others, “We are here, we exist! We refuse to hide.”
Our menhera motivation is to help ourselves and others live a better life.
But don’t just take my word for it:
This section features unedited testimonials from various members of the menhera community.
Content warning: Some testimonials speak about their struggles with suicide ideation, self-harm, depression and/or other related topics.
“When I discovered Menhera I had a diagnosis of 'Severe Depression' for 4 years and hadn't made any progress on recovering, things felt like they were only getting worse, and I was making poor life decisions.
The Menhera community helped me to accept myself and my condition, and to think more positively about recovery options such as medication and therapy. It helped me make my mental health an important part of my life instead of something I was ignoring and hoping would go away. The community also gave me somewhere to discuss with others how my treatment was going and what things I could do next (for example, changing medication or ditching a bad therapist).
Wearing Menhera fashion whilst sitting anxiously in a doctor or therapist's waiting room, helped me feel comforted. The clothing, depicting what I was going through, felt like a protective barrier around me, saying "this is okay, you're doing the right thing, you'll get better".
I am now no longer classed as 'Severe Depression' and genuinely am grateful to Menhera for giving me the strength to get this far <3
[With regard to] other JFashions they have helped me to find communities to make new friends who are like family to me now. Some of these friends are in other countries, where I hope to visit one day, so it's also inspired some travelling and cultural learning too.”
Hoshi Candy, menhera artist/designer
“Menhera has helped me feel not so ashamed to have mental illnesses. The community is very accepting and welcoming. I don’t feel like I’m something to be ashamed of or hidden anymore. I can take my disorders and turn them into something positive. I can be positive. I can be cute despite my brain not being so cute at times.”
Jamie Rae Fisher, menhera
“I can kind of understand [being frustrated when parents don’t understand my love of menhera]. Though my parents can't control my actions at my age, I'm sometimes afraid of wearing certain things that I'd like to wear outside for fear of getting committed, again.
That's how the menhera community helps me. They understand. They know what it's like. They get that these clothes aren't a cry for help or attention, they're a talking piece, a means of expression, or even simple aesthetic pleasure. There's strength in numbers, and the menhera community (even for someone like me who's more on the sidelines and doesn't really know anyone interested in the subculture) helps provide those numbers simply by existing.”
“Menhera has been a coping mechanism for me for a short period of time thus far, though I do understand why some people feel to them it’s harmful (perhaps their own trauma or they just don’t cope that way, or how people use it to capitalize off mental illness). Naysayers aside, fashion is an outlet and is mostly a healthy one. Rather than harming yourself, put your pain on a T-shirt, rip jeans, paint red splatters. It’s ok to not be ok and this fashion calls attention to and raises awareness for it. I came into menhera very recently so I don’t have many pieces, but a lot of my stuff I can’t wear to work (since it has drugs on it) so I wear them as my Depression Shirts ™ as well as to a convention or fashion event. It’s a way to get myself motivated rather than stay locked up in my room. The community is generally a positive one (every tree has a bad apple but that doesn’t make the fruit any less delicious!). Many of those who are in it are neurodivergent at various degrees and are willing to help anyway they can and learn about each other.”
“Menhera has allowed me to form an outlet for my mental health, A way to express how I feel on the inside and use fashion as an outlet.
Kawaii fashion in general has been a huge thing to help me deal with my mental health problems because it gives me something else to focus on and take my mind away”
Alice Ward, menhera
“Menhera has helped me cope with anxiety by making vent art and crafts. I’ve been able to make friends through [menhera] and share my own thoughts and creations through it.
“Mental health in the black community often is dismissed or written off in favor for some toxic stereotypes or religion. This fashion became a way for me to share a side of myself that gets lost in enforced positivity. With menhera I feel that I don’t have to live an always happy & Kawaii life. It allows me to share more of my personal struggles and experiences that wouldn’t be considered happy/cute.
I was scared at first that my family wouldn’t like me sharing things about myself but found that they came to accept it as just a different way for me [to] share my experiences with poor physical health, and mental health. This fashion also keeps me grounded as I work through healing and recovering day by day and I’m grateful for it, it’s a big part of what holds me together.”
Jadedisland, menhera, artist, blogger
Do you have a testimony you’d like added to this collection?
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your testimony, how you’d like to be credited (or if you’d like to be credited anonymously) and a photo of yourself (if you’d like to include a photo)