Mental Health

Jeffree Star, Self Harm, and Taboos.

To many of us, Jeffree Star is infamous. We’ve watched his Myspace superstardom, his music career, his many feuds with beauty influencers, his makeup brand, and now his latest resurgence into pop culture. He is a rather controversial figure, with public fights and fall-outs dividing public opinion on him, and his racist actions in the past. The image built up around him was the subject of a 5 part documentary series by YouTuber Shane Dawson, who delved into Jeffree’s secret life.

The series followed Shane and Jeffrey over the course of what seems like a few days, as they explore Jeffree’s home (a mansion in Calabasas), drive his cars (a pink Tesla being among them), and explore his local WalMart. They also explore Jeffree’s makeup business, see the warehouse that ships his products, and the lab that creates them. With all of this success, Shane decides to take Jeffree back to his past, and they head to his old apartment.

Secret Life of Jeffree Star Thumbnail

It is here that Jeffree opens up to Shane about his past with mental illness. He discusses his insecurities, addresses some of his past friendships, and what his life was like before fame.

He revealed that in his teen years, he self harmed a huge amount. When he shows his legs, he reveals that he had “over 5,000 scars” on his thigh.

Link to video in question. Trigger warning for discussions of self harm, and images of healed scars.

When he felt that he had overcome the urge to self harm, he decided to cover his entire body in tattoos. He tells us how he used to hide his body under long sleeves, leather, full coverage, in all weather. He says he’s more comfortable now, but he’s still careful to hide any hint of this past in his videos now, using bracelets and long sleeves in his videos.

Today, Jeffree Star uploaded a new video to his channel, where he goes into these subjects in a little more detail.

 

In this video, he reveals that it has only been 4 years since he last harmed himself, and not 10 years as he stated in the last video with Shane. He mentions that telling the world about this has left him feeling embarrassed, exposed, and vulnerable.

Despite Jeffree’s life being very different to most of ours, that is something I think we can all relate to. If you’ve ever tried to open up about mental illness, especially self harm, those feelings will be all too familiar to you.

While many of us are trying to break down the massive stigma against talking about mental illness, self harm remains a massive taboo. Even amongst the fiercest mental health advocates, it’s difficult to find regular open discussions of self harm. It’s heavily misunderstood by many, which makes it even more difficult to reach out and admit to doing it, because you can never be sure what reaction you’ll get. Will they understand, be compassionate, maybe share their own experiences? Or will they jump immediately to the stereotyped image of someone who is “attention-seeking”?

What we need to understand, is that people self harm for many reasons. There is no single answer to explain why we do it. Even a single person can have multiple reasons behind it. If we truly want to help, we have to open up a dialogue about it, and let people share their experiences without judgement.

It’s about time we do away with the judgemental image of “attention seeking” behaviour. Aside from the fact that this is generally completely false, as most people who self harm actively hide themselves away, just as Jeffree Star admitted to doing in his videos. Ask yourself, if a person is so lonely that they turn to hurting themselves in order to be seen, shouldn’t we be paying attention to them?

I hope that, from Jeffree Star sharing his experiences, and receiving an outpouring of responses from people who have been through the same thing, that we can perhaps begin to break down this taboo against self injury. After all, it is only through talking about things openly and with compassion that we can begin to help.

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