Monki’s New Campaign Shines a Light on Body Dysmorphic Disorder

The Swedish fashion brand is teaming up with UK-based Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation (BDDF) to further raise awareness around the condition.

PHOTOGRAPHY Kiran Gidda

Swedish brand Monki has recurrently strived to challenge traditional beauty norms in their casting, from ethnicity to size and body shape. In line with this concern and its commitment to transparent no-retouch guidelines, the brand has launched a limited-edition underwear collection supporting Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation’s petition directed at the EU Parliament calling for transparency on altered images on social media. So far, the petition has been a powerful catalyst in calling for a similar legislative change in the UK, which is why it is still important to support BDDF by signing the petition.

On behalf of Monki, BRICKS Editor and Founder Tori West hosted a panel spotlighting the campaign and ​​the importance of diverse visual representation and transparency in fashion and beauty media. The talk featured Head of Operations at the BDDF Kitty Wallace, Monki’s Brand & Marketing Director Simone Van Starkenburg, curve model and Creator of social campaign #FILTERDROP Sasha Pallari, and clinical psychologist Dr. Amita Jassi.

The campaign “More Than My Reflection” is aimed at raising awareness around body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a debilitating psychological condition that negatively affects a person’s physical perception of themselves, often causing self-consciousness, crippling anxiety, and fear of social rejection. “And with all of that there’s a huge amount of shame and difficulty in functioning. It really impacts that person’s quality of life,” adds Kitty.

Monki’s limited edition capsule collection, launching on 2nd of March, counts two colourful mesh bralettes and briefs. One set features positive affirmations inside the underwear for the wearer, which become readable when reflected in a mirror. The second set is embellished with various body illustrations, one of the brand’s signature prints.

“We, as a brand, feel super privileged, because we are not experts, and we’re absolutely on a constant learning journey to learn more about this condition,” explains Simone. “We’ve worked with a lot of topics like body rights, harassment, menstrual health, masturbation, but also BDD. So it’s something that’s really close to us and also really important to our community.” 

It’s no secret that the fashion industry holds an immense responsibility when it comes to perpetuating unattainable and exclusively-westernised body ideals. Although a slow change is becoming noticeable on runways and campaigns such as this one, the negative social and psychological consequences of these standards are unmeasurable, and only comparable to the exorbitant profits totted up by businesses promoting and selling diet culture, anti-aging products and cosmetic enhancement procedures. 

For Kitty, who previously worked in the industry, her interest in fashion started off as a safety behaviour, which is a common dynamic in BDD, but then revealed itself as a double-edge sword.  “It was my armour, and I could use it to distract people from the other parts of me that I wanted to hide. The problem was that the more I used it as armour, the more perfectionistic I got about it,” she explains.

“The thing with BDD is perception. We all don’t see the same thing. There’s a real mismatch in what the person looking in the mirror sees and what somebody else sees,” says Dr Jassi, explaining that the condition frequently leads to conflict between those who suffer from it and their loved ones, who often struggle to put themselves in their shoes. “It’s about gently trying to get you to a place where it isn’t just building that insight, but also being alongside somebody and really trying to understand that that’s what they see, that’s the distress they feel, and just being compassionate,” she continues.

Monki will also showcase a series of personal portraits from media volunteers Kim Booker, Sandeep Saib and Mia Hill, who have all suffered from BDD and are actively using their experiences with the disorder to shine a light and inform the public about this underdiagnosed and largely misunderstood condition. In a video, they share their ups and downs with BDD, advice on how to help someone who might suffer from the disorder, and encouragement to seek help and learn how to appreciate yourself beyond your physical appearance.

“The way I treat people with kindness is always going to overshadow how I look, and that’s what I focus on every single day,” explains Sasha, stressing the importance of accepting yourself even when it’s harder to find that confidence. “We’re all going to have those days, no matter how confident I am and how confident I continue to make myself, I am still going to wake up and have days where I don’t feel like I look how I would like to look.” 

As part of the ongoing partnership between Monki and BDDF, a donation is made to support BDDF’s work and expansion on educational resources.

Shop the collection here and watch the full campaign video below.

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