Mental illness knows no bounds. It does not discriminate, nor judge. It has no opinion on monetary values, or age. Mental illness has no single face.
Mental illness is a little understood and often stereotyped condition that affects tens of millions of Americans each year-with approximately only half receiving treatment. For this body of work, I am focusing on mental illness in women. Because of gender roles, cultural expectations and societal treatment, women have a higher risk of developing mental illness. Due to the stereotype of women and their proneness to emotional problems, women who suffer from mental illnesses are often stigmatized.
When one admits they have a mental illness, they lie themselves bare to those whom they share it with-this feeling of vulnerability is what my work captures for each individual model. Working with natural light in the models home, and as nude as they feel comfortable, these photographs represent the nakedness that comes with admitting to having a mental illness. Often, the people we least expect are the ones fighting the biggest battles. By asking for a statement from each model, they share with us their creativity, their hopes, their fears, and themselves in regards to their own mental illness, or the view of mental illness through our culture.
By allowing my models this moment of exposure, this project expands from a simple portrait series to a collaboration of the reality of our own and the worlds mental illnesses. With the partnership of photography and personal statements, it is my hope that the viewers will walk away from this project with a more personal understanding of mental illness.
© Lexie Bragg