Dressing for mental health

A British study finds that the way teenagers dress affects their mental health -- but not entirely in the way researchers imagined. Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London, asked Bangladeshi adolescents attending London schools about their fashion preferences, and, two years later, assessed their mental health. The academics expected that people who blended with the dominant culture would be better off. To their surprise, however, girls who wore traditional Bangladeshi clothing were less likely to suffer depression and similar problems than those who wore western-style garments.

The trend was reversed in boys, with those preferring “integrated clothing” showing better mental health. Researcher Kamaldeep Bhui believes this gender difference may result from greater social pressure on girls to conform to traditional practices. But they could benefit from the expression of their identity, and traditional clothing could keep them in a more “insular”, protective environment than that of assimilated adolescents. ~ Scientific American, October 10



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