I’ve developed many bad habits over the years. I cannot start eating my dinner unless I’ve found a sufficiently entertaining show to watch. I haven’t gone to bed at a decent hour in years and I’ve been known to fall asleep with a slab of make-up on. But one thing that I share with 20-30% of the population is my nail-biting obsession. I’ve had short and stubby nails for as long as I can remember. Whilst I’ve always admired the long and dainty nails of my mother and friends I never understood how they could just …let them grow.
Nail-Biting or Onychophagia is a type of Body Focused Repetitive Disorder. These types of disorders are distantly related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and can be equally difficult to quit as sufferers often accept their habit and resolve that they are too weak willed to quit. Like many nail biters, I’m aware of the disgusting consequence of my habit and its subsequent impact on my physical health but alas I still persist, often subconsciously.
In an attempt to get a better understanding of my unfashionable affliction I looked deeper into the psychological causes of Onychophagia. Greek philosopher Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC) considered the appearance of fingernails to be pivotal in the characterisation of people. Individuals possessing un-manicured nails were considered to be lackadaisical. Fast forward 2000 years later to early psychoanalytic scholars such as Freud who regarded nail-biting as a return to the oral stage of development, an aggressive motivation represented by biting and the desire for the breast represented by putting things in one’s mouth. Well.
Luckily for me, research has developed since then and psychologists now believe that nail-biting occurs for less ‘Electra Complex’ based reasons. A 2006 study by Williams, Rose and Chisholm investigating nail-biting in young adults found that the habit occurs as a result of boredom or stress suggesting that negative and unstimulating environments are a nail-biters worst nightmare. A commonly held belief is that nail-biting is a manifestation of anxiety. However, research investigating Onychophagia in children were unable to find sufficient evidence to suggest that nail-biters are any more anxious than those who do not partake. More recently, psychologists have linked nail-biting to perfectionism.
Considering that in their natural habitat my jagged and stubby nails don’t resemble anything close to perfection I found this result to rather surprising. However, research has found that people who engage in Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours like nail-biting “demonstrate maladaptive planning styles characterized by high standards and unwillingness to relax, two inherent traits in perfectionists.” Similarly, when surveying Nail-Biters, results also found that when compared to non-biters, biters have a tendency to over-plan, overwork themselves, become easily frustrated without high-levels of activity and exhibit many more traits possessed by Organizational Perfectionists.
So now I’ve figured out how I bite my nails and have resolved that I’m determined to quit, I need to consider how I’m going to fix the issue. Avoiding boredom and unstimulating environments at all costs whilst ideal, let’s face it, is pretty unrealistic. Studies have found that nail-biting occurs least often when people are reprimanded for their behaviour. As much as I’m sure my mother would relish the opportunity to give me a good telling off every time my hand ascends towards my face that won’t work because, jobs. Recent intervention research has concentrated on habit reversal, which focuses on awareness training and relaxation. However, Adesso and Norberg (2001) conclude that the long-term effects of these methods are not as impressive as the initial results.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I am more reluctant to give into temptation when my nails are done. Like most nail-biters it’s not uncommon to experience self-consciousness when visiting nail salons as technicians have been reported as going so far as to refuse serving clientele with botch nails at all. To make things easier, we’ve made a list of the highest rated items you’ll need to give your nails first class treatment as well as a break from your gnashing teeth, all from the comfort of your home.
Do you have any other tricks to battle Onychophagia? Sound off in the comments below!
‘Fashion psychologist and founder of The Psychology of Fashion blog, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, believes that the core of this newfound male behaviour is the “evolutionary impulse to mate.” She argues that buying and showing off expensive goods, otherwise known as ‘peacocking’, is simply done to impress others. “In nature, even though the male peacock is attracting potential predators by flashing his brightly coloured tail, the increased possibility of attracting a potential suitor makes it all worth the risk,” she says. “It’s the same for men. In this competitive era of dating, even if spending a fortune on clothes and trainers may do serious damage to the bank account, the ability to say ‘hey, I’m so resourceful that I can almost throw money away’ is a serious motivational factor when it comes to men’s spending habits.”’
Stop Telling Us We Are Beautiful
Researchers have suggested that instead of making a woman feel better about how she looks, reading that “You are beautiful” may instead send her down the road to mentally reviewing everything she finds non-beautiful about herself. [Psychology Today]
Dua Lipa Announces New Fashion Collection
However, not everyone is pleased with what may not be an entirely inclusive collection. Although Dua tweeted that she wants the clothes to be “universal and accessible for everyone,” it turns out that they’ll only be available in up to a UK size 16. [Teen Vogue]
Victoria's Secret has a plan to revamp its image for younger women
Victoria’s Secret is trying to attract younger women and win back former customers by focusing on core categories, such as apparel and lingerie. Jan Singer, CEO of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie said the company is doing this by understanding the needs of its clients. “It’s not a one size fits all,” [CNBC]
Tess Holliday Slams Photoshop App That Slimmed Down Her Body
Model Tess Holliday is speaking out after a photoshop app called PIP CAM used her image without permission. And if that’s not bad enough, the purpose of using said image was to show how the app can slim down people’s bodies. [ELLE]
Theresa May gets three times as many comments on her appearance as Corbyn
New research shows that part of the problem for female politicians is that social media puts public figures in virtual stocks but offers a safe haven for the cowards who attack them [GQ]
Remember the Kitri dress with a 700 people waiting list? It’s back in stock
You know the KITRI dress that had its own 700-people strong waiting list before even launching after being spotted on Charlotte Groeneveld aka Fashion Guitar and other fashion influencers? The one that sold out in a matter of hours? Well good news, it will be back in stock today at 12.30pm! Just in time for a bit of pre-bank holiday shopping. Happy days. [Marie Claire]
At its core, the phenomenon behind consumer culture is a form of envy. As our desire for newness intensifies, how can we keep our Green-Eyed-Monsters in check whilst making sure we stay out of the red and get into the black?
Of all the mythical creatures that we’re socialised to be fearful of, whether it be ghosts, goblins or various incarnations of the bogey-man, there is only one that possess the power to cause us actual harm. Despite this threat we accept this creature, become accustom to his reoccurring nature, often failing to tackle his looming presence. The creature I’m referring to is the Green-Eyed Monster, the cretin that appears any time your neighbour gets a new car or when you see someone in a pair of shoes miles out of your budget. He sloths around, feeding eagerly off your envy.
Early Greek philosophers believed envy to be ‘pain experienced on account of another’s good fortune’ and modern-day scientists have confirmed the manifestation of this pain. The anterior cingulate cortex is one of the brain areas associated with pain and studies have shown that this same area is activated whilst we’re experiencing envy (Takahashi, 2009). Whilst we may not be able to see the scars formed at the hands of the Green-Eyed Monster, envy upsets our psychological balance and creates a very real experience of social pain.
Despite its harmful consequence, many have argued that envy is not always all that bad. Psychologist, Niels van de Ven has articulated two types of envy. ‘Malicious Envy’ concerns only negative outcomes such as a loss in motivation and feeling that the envied target is undeserving of their good fortune, resulting in you wishing them ill will. On the other side of the spectrum is ‘Benign Envy’, a motivational type of envy that can cause people to attempt to reduce the gap that exists between them and the envied target. These days, it is often the case that we never even meet our envied targets in real life but instead, fawn over their ‘Insta-Perfect’ lifestyle through a screen.
The theory of Social Comparison suggests that we measure our self-worth based on how we stack up to others. Our Green-Eyed Monster never goes hungry as our obsession with social media means that we’re confronted daily with the highlight reel of our ‘friends’ lives, their perfect bodies, their amazing hair and their expensive outfits, providing a hearty blend of envy and self-loathing – his favourite meal. The culture of social media coupled with the culture of consumerism “creates a void in us, making us feel that we are ‘less than’ or ‘not as whole’ if we don’t have the latest.” With every post we publish, our desire to control the impressions of others increases.
Our presentation, which in large part concerns our clothing, is also driven by a desire to create an image that is consistent with our personal identity. In a time when it’s possible to monetise your online identity, we often try to brand ourselves in a similar way to celebrities; by capturing images of ourselves dining at exclusive restaurants, wearing luxury brands and never wearing the same outfit twice (God Forbid!). In return, we build our social currency in the form of likes and followers, resulting in dopamine fuelled high. But what happens when our actual currency pales in comparison to our social currency? What are you supposed to do when likes aren’t covering the bills, when the thirst for the latest fashions cannot be quenched, when Instagram shows that we’ve already worn this outfit 3 weeks ago and the belly of our Green-Eyed Monster is fit to burst?
One brand attempting to simultaneously circumvent this social crisis and stretch our paycheques is ‘Rent the Runway’. Founded in 2008 by Jennifer Fleiss and CEO Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway is an online platform that allows its users to rent an extensive collection of designer clothing and accessories at a starting price of just £67($89) per month. A clear pattern of Millennials shunning ownership in general has long been documented. We’re taking Ubers instead of buying cars and opting for landlords instead of mortgages so sharing ownership of our wardrobes is a pretty logical extension of our non-committal nature. When a pair of Marni sunglasses can cost up to £350, the option to enjoy them, even for a short while, at a fraction of the cost is certainly intriguing.
Despite the rise of so-called ‘shopaholics’ we are hard wired to be thrifty. Research has shown that for many consumers, the region of the brain that is activated when we smell or see something repulsive or are anticipating a painful shock is also activated when witnessing a price that seems too high. Although brands like Rent the Runway and Girl Meets Dress market themselves as a solution to the pain experienced when we overspend they gain their intrigue by being an antidote to the pain experienced by Benign Envy. In an interview with Forbes, Hyman acknowledges the pressure that this new era of social media places on Millennials, “now you can’t repeat outfits because your friends have seen that outfit on social media. As ridiculous as that sounds, that is what drives our business.” Despite the growing popularity of wardrobe rentals, not everyone is as willing to ease their Instagram agony.
A Neilson study polled more than 30,000 people in 60 countries, found that Brits were more reluctant than other nations to get on board. In the UK, 37% were willing to embrace collaborative consumption versus 54% of Europeans and 68% of people globally. An unsurprising finding considering the fact that British consumers are generally more comfortable splashing the cash, even outspending their fashionable French neighbours.
Although experts advise that periodically disconnecting from social media can be a good way to starve your GEM, Benign Envy is very much a part of our 21st century lived experience both on and offline. Renting a look for your latest post or for a special occasion can be an economically friendly way to both keep your GEM in check and portray the best version of yourself or as the kids would say, ‘ball on a budget’.
When I started working on this piece I would have never, not in my wildest dreams, expected the subject to hit so close to home. Several weeks later and whilst I meander from day to day I remain stuck in shock at the sudden loss of my big sister. At this point in time I can only describe my grief as contradictory. I haven’t hit the stages of bereavement that traditional Psychology teaches in a neat and predictable fashion. Rather, I float between misery and acceptance, anger and denial. I have made countless bargains with the universe in a desperate effort to turn back time while I hinge on the pendulum that is my life, where everything now exists either before or after that tragic day.
One thing I know for sure is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with loss. Whilst my mother has relied on her faith to see her through each day, I have noticed a shift in my ability to cope when I’m in the presence of my sister’s belongings. A love of fashion was one of the countless subjects we bonded over. As with most sibling relationships the importance of ownership of our treasured pieces varied from day to day. Her old jumpsuit slowly became our jumpsuit, my new top instantly became hers upon the joint conclusion that she looked better in it. On the flip side, there were many fights involving some variation of ‘what’s mine is mine and don’t even think about asking to borrow it!’. From a cognitive standpoint, studies have shown that brain areas such as the medial prefrontal cortex (MPC) which are active when we’re thinking about ourselves are also active when ‘we create associations between external things and ourselves through ownership’ (Kim & Johnson, 2010). That is to suggest that our belongings are an extension of ourselves that conjure up countless narratives of both our singular and shared identities.
Some researchers argue that the extent to which we see our possessions as an extension of ourselves or others depends on our confidence levels. In a study where participants were given false feedback on a personality questionnaire which made it seem that they were not particularly self-aware, they responded by rating their belongings as particularly self-expressive – as saying something about who they are (Jarrett, 2013). It is fair to say that in this moment in time my confidence has been significantly reduced. My belief system and understanding of my place in the world has been shaken and only in clinging to tangible items, specifically those that she has left behind, reminds me that she is still a very huge part of who I am and that she will always be with me.
When it comes to a lost loved one’s possessions, the importance of ornamentation and jewellery in the grieving process spans across all human cultures over many decades. For example, in the Victorian era, so-called ‘mourning jewellery’ was a popular trend of the time, whereby accessories were fashioned out of the tresses of the deceased. In Buddhism, the ashes of accomplished Buddhist teachers are mixed with clay are made into devotional images that link the living and the dead (Goss and Klass, 1997). Whilst trinkets featuring coils and curls can still be found today, a fashionable take on the Buddhist tradition has recently grown in popularity in the form of memorial jewellery.
One company that is paving the way in memorial jewellery is Heart In Diamond. Serving many countries worldwide including the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, China and more, the diamond specialists serve to propel the healing power of jewellery one step further by creating beautiful bespoke diamonds in over 500 styles featuring the ashes of your deceased loved one.
Volkan (1981) suggests that ‘linking objects’ (actual material objects of the dead) function to maintain a bridge with the lost person. Unsurprisingly, Heart In Diamond’s testimonials reveal a deep sense of comfort clients feel about possessing a very physical and tangible reminder of their loved ones that they can carry with them at all times.
“To sympathize with someone is to agree with a feeling or a sentiment but to empathize with someone is to understand and be in tune with their feelings. Having been through this process as well as supported friends that have too I hope that I can share that experience with other families in an empathetic way. My diamond symbolizes the loss of my father. The combination of his ashes and my hair has now unified us forever and was a poignant journey for me to take. The Orange-Yellow Princess cut diamond is a representation of Japan and its reputation as the land of the rising sun and this is where he saw his final sunset. – Claire, USA, Heart In Diamond Client”
Linking objects like memorial jewellery can provide a way to maintain contact with the dead and ‘allow the mourner to externalize elements of the self and internalize elements of the other’ (Volkan, 1981). They serve a bridging function as symbolic representations of the person’s experiences with the loved one’s soothing and comfort.
When we lose a loved one the financial burden is often one of the most psychological draining and unexpected parts of the bereavement process. When speaking to David Miller, Heart In Diamond’s content director I found out that the mounting costs of burials is one of many reasons people are seeking their services. “Cremation is cheaper than a burial, sometimes up to 70% less (we actually wrote an article on this). Cremation enables you to make memorialization objects such as cremation diamonds. If you don’t burry the cremated ashes, cremation also saves land.”
The environmental benefits of cremation jewellery doesn’t stop there. “The diamonds are absolutely conflict free because they are directly sent to us, no mines are involved”
“Step 1: After we have received the sample, it undergoes the process of analysis. The purpose of the analysis is to define the chemical composition and extract the perfect amount of carbon out of the material. Our laboratory specialists need about 3.5 oz of ashes or 0.07 oz of hair.
Step 2: the carbon is added to the diamond growing foundation, out of which a unique crystalline matrix will grow creating a personal diamond.
Step 3: The mixture is placed in the core of the HPHT where diamond-growing conditions from the earth’s crust are simulated with temperatures of over 2000℃
Step 4: Raw diamond will be polished and cut according to client’s specifications
About our personal service: if you live in one of the regions we have a representative in, we can come to your house to take your order and help decide. We hand deliver the memorial diamonds to you”
For those who feel ready, memorial jewellery can be a wonderful way to feel close to a loved one again. At such a difficult time anything at all that brings a measure of comfort is highly valuable.
Clothes and accessories have many powers beyond their aesthetic appeal. They can make a statement, reveal something about your identity and as we’ve seen with memorial jewellery, they can also provide comfort and a sense of peace, some shelter from the powerful negative emotions that can surround the death of someone we were close to.
To find out more about memorial jewellery and Heart In Diamond visit their website here.
For bereavement support contact Cruse Bereavement Care here.
When it comes to New Years Resolutions 60% of us suffer from The False Hope Syndrome. Find out how to make sure you’re not making the same mistakes each year!
Happy New Year!
We’re 3 days in and for a lot of us, things are pretty much the same as they were 3 days ago. Same job, same friends, same surroundings. The only difference is that we’ve promised ourselves that 2017 will bring with it a deep and meaningful personal change. We’ll stop smoking, stop splurging, travel more, worry less, eat healthily and pursue our dreams.
Every year 40-50% of Americans and 60-70% of Brits make New Year’s resolutions and unsurprisingly studies show that most of us make the exact same promises to ourselves year in and year out. More specifically, 60% of us suffer from what researchers call The False Hope Syndrome (Polivy & Herman 2002), vowing on average 10 times to keep a resolution we’ve failed at sticking to in previous years. It’s certainly admirable that in the face of certain failure we remain optimistic. We believe that by simply learning from our past mistakes, by making a few changes here and there that we’ll become the person that we’ve always wanted to be.
But what if, instead of engaging in this never-ending cycle of misplaced optimism that we join the percentage of people who actually see their resolutions come to fruition (those people do exist)? Psychology points to 4 main reasons why you’re unable to stick to your resolutions (and how you can fix it!)…
1. Your goals are not Self-Concordant
Have you ever asked yourself why something had made it to your list of resolutions? The self-concordance of goals reflects the degree to which they are consistent with your own personal developing interests and values. Say for example you have resolved to learn how to play the guitar this year. Do you want to learn to play the guitar because you genuinely have a passion for it, or is it really because your ex-girlfriend’s obsession with John Mayer was always a sore sport for you? If it’s the latter it’s likely that come summer time, you would have lost your trusty guitar pick and your strings will be collecting dust.
A study by Deci & Ryan (2000) found that you have little chance of realising your resolutions if your reason for pursing them are:
External: Because somebody else wants you to do it
Introjected: Because you would feel ashamed, guilty, or anxious if you didn’t.
You’re significantly more likely to achieve your goals if they are self-concordant i.e. if they are:
Identified: It’s something you really believe that it is an important goal to have
Intrinsic: The fun and enjoyment which the goal will provide is the primary reason for having it and you’re simply interested in the experience itself.
2. Your list of resolutions is all wrong
Many people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions because they’re structuring their goals incorrectly. According to researchers Baumeister & Heatherton (1996) and Austin & Vancouver (1996), some of the key mistakes that you’re making with your New Year’s resolution list is that:
You’ve set too many goals – if you’re planning to make 32 major life style changes this year more than likely, come 2018 you’ll find yourself bitterly disappointed. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. Start with 3 resolutions and take it from there, you can always add more to the list as the year progresses.
You’ve set goals that conflict with one another – although it’s clear to most that resolving to save more money this year whilst also resolving to treat yourself to a new wardrobe full of designer pieces doesn’t make sense, we still make the mistake of filling our lists with contradictory goals. Before you commit to any resolutions ensure that they complement one another, this will only bolster your chances of success.
Your goals are set too far in the future – there’s nothing wrong with having a five-year plan but when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions a sure way to ensure success is to make sure that your list consists exclusively of proximal goals – Live in the hear and now!
3. You don’t have an action plan
So, you’ve made your list, you’ve ensured that your resolutions are specific, proximal, complimentary, challenging (yet realistic) and most importantly self-concordant. Now what? Well now you need to develop an action plan. Research into New Year’s resolvers found that people who engage in wishful thinking such as those who think they’ll achieve their goals through a combination of willpower and winging it will most likely fail (Norcross et al., 1989).
Making the list was the easy part.
Now you need to plan specifically when you’re going to initiate your goal pursuit and how you’re going maintain your pursuit in the face of obstacles and distractions (Gollwitzer, 1999). Speaking of plans, another reason why you’re not sticking to your resolution is because…
4. You’re not scheduling time to break your resolution
A recent study by Vale, Pieters & Zeelenberg (2015) compared people who had planned moments in which they would deviate from their goal pursuit and people who followed a rigid and strict plan. Essentially people who had cheat days vs those who didn’t. Surprisingly, results found that cheat days can:
a) Help regain self-regulatory resources
b) Help maintain your motivation to pursue with regulatory tasks, and
c) Have a positive impact on your mood
This all contributes to facilitate long-term goal-adherence. So, if you want to have that red velvet cupcake its ok, just as long as it’s on a day where you plan to be bad and not in the middle of the night after a day of eating nothing but kale and cayenne pepper.
Do you have any tips or tricks that help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Sound off in the comments below.
Fast Fashion is fast becoming a dirty business. Whilst reports suggest that Fast Fashion is the fastest growing sector of the entire apparel industry (FEE, 2017) it is also the second dirtiest industry in the world, surpassed only by Big Oil (Eco Watch, 2015). While these findings are shocking they’re unsurprising. Online and high street brands face a pressure to compete in a society where disposable incomes are on the decline whilst demand continues to climb. As a society, collectively we’ve become more conscious of the impact that our lifestyles are having on future generations as the threat of global warming can no longer be ignored. And yet, consumers continually experience cognitive dissonance when our purchases fail to match up to our environmental principles. In an effort to reduce this psychological torment, the Slow Fashion movement was born.
According to Clark (2008) slow fashion consists of three components; placing value on local resources and economies, transparency in the production system, and creating products with a longer usable life. Research has shown that consumers agree that the slow fashion movement is “an ideal situation that they would be striving to work toward” (Pookulangara & Shephard, 2013) but arguably one of the main factors holding consumers back from reaching their slow fashion goals is a lack of knowledge that both environmentally conscious and fashion forward brands actually exist.
One brand flying the flag of the Slow Fashion movement is KORLEKIE, a UK based luxury brand that combines hand woven fabrics & heritage techniques with sensual elegance. With a celebrity clientele that includes the likes of Alicia Dixon, Rita Ora and Tiwa Savage alongside features in i-D and Vogue KORLEKIE proves that utilising traditional craft techniques can give you a head start in the race to the top.
On the brand’s 4-year anniversary I was invited to the MADE BY KORLEKIE event, an archive of images and collections to introduce you to the story of KORLEKIE, hosted by Fvshion Dvting. Not only did I get the chance to see the stunning craftsmanship up close and personal, I was able to speak to KORLEKIE founder and creative director – Beatrice Newman. Taking her cue from Ghanaian Kente weavers, Newman has contemporised traditional weaving methods to produce unique and ornate structures that is simply unachievable in the fast fashion sector due to the sheer skill involved. When speaking to Newman I came to realise her Ghanaian heritage is literally interwoven into the fabric of the brand in more ways than one. Newman shares her middle name ‘Korlekie’ with her brand which translates to ‘Queen of Eagles’ by the Gaadangbe tribe in the eastern region of Ghana. Citing Grace Jones, the queen of androgyny herself, as one of her muses, Newman stated that the KORLEKIE woman is one that is unashamedly fierce, daring and takes a mindful approach to dressing.
Mindful dressing is a rapidly growing concept in the realm of slow fashion as consumers are gradually challenging the ‘treat yo self’ throw-away culture that encourages the temporary highs and lows of fast fashion purchases. Whilst its numerous advantages are somewhat undeniable, the sheer pace of fast fashion brands leaves it incapable of creating that personable experience that many consumers are craving.
Slow fashion brands like KORLEKIE have the advantage of a highly ethical and transparent business practice as well as a culturally rich background that, psychologically speaking allows consumers to forge genuine connections with every piece purchased. The result is the highly sought after ‘mindful shopping experience’ where need and beliefs can finally go hand in hand.
To see pieces from KORLEKIE’s latest collection visit their website here.
The Psychology of Fashion Blog™ Founder Shakaila Forbes-Bell was interviewed for CNN’s Colorscope -an award-winning series exploring our perception of color and its use across cultures, one shade at a time. It’s latest featured surrounded Fashions current IT-Colour ‘Safety Orange’, the focus of our current Colour Psychology Style Edit.
…. It is also considered a transitional color because it is associated with the change in season. Fashion psychologist and blogger Shakaila Forbes-Bell said the color has gained a lot of interest in recent years. “We see safety orange, as it is titled, up and down the catwalks for spring and summer 2018 especially in the New York shows like Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and Rihanna’s Fenty Puma,” she said. Forbes-Bell said it’s not surprising that orange is having a revival.