California lifestyle blogger Aimee Song seems to have it all. She runs a successful fashion and interior design blog, fashion brands beat down her door with collaboration offers, and her 4.6 million Instagram followers are glued to her stylish selfies and global escapades. So fans were shocked when the 30-year-old revealed her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
On Monday, Song posted a video to YouTube depicting her glamorous trip to Paris for Haute Couture Fashion Week in July. In between footage of racing through the rainy streets, partying in her hotel room, and giving an impromptu makeup tutorial in the backseat of a car, Song got serious.
“The hardest thing about being a blogger or having my life out there is to always pretend like I’m happy — I actually don’t feel so happy,” she told the camera through her tears.
Song explained that while her life seems glossy, she often feels insecure. “I fake [confidence] all the time,” she says. “Especially lately I feel even more sad when I’m around people because everyone’s life seems so perfect — but then again I realize that’s probably what you guys think about my life.”
Many thanked Song for inviting them into her personal life. “Some may say there’s nothing hard in being an influencer or inspiration for others and that it’s not hard to fake a smile,” wrote one person. “But when there are so many people who expect something from you every single day, even though you don’t owe it to them, it can really get you in a bad way.”
Another wrote, “It’s really eye-opening to see this side of you, Aimee!”
One person added: “So brave of you to say those things in front of a camera. Social media only shows the good days, but it takes a lot of courage to tell the world that it isn’t always like that. You’re a beautiful person, stay strong.”
“I feel like I’m supposed to be that ‘happy person’ in the group, and from the outside, my life seems great, but I was broken inside and felt like I needed to share,” Song tells Yahoo Style. “I always put up a front and try to be positive and strong, but sometimes that makes it even more painful.”
Song actually didn’t originally intend to post the video to her millions of followers because, “It seemed so different from the glam footage I was showing, but in the end, I felt like it was important to be honest and show that behind the glitz and glamour, you can still feel lonely and sad at times, and that I’m a work in progress.”
The blogger follows Gabourey Sidibe, Lady Gaga, and Prince Harry, who all shared their struggles with mental health issues in recent months. On Monday, rocker Jessica Lea Mayfield revealed her own personal story on Instagram, sharing that she had been the victim of domestic abuse.
According to Gail Saltz, a New York City psychiatrist and author of The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius, disclosing something so personal can be healing for both the person and the public. “For someone who has built a persona on a certain image, it can be freeing to authentically be oneself,” she tells Yahoo Style. “And for the almost 50 percent of people who will struggle with mental health issues at some point in their lives, it can normalize their experience.”
And while perfectly curated images on social media can contribute to poor mental health, there’s also a surprising effect on the poster. “It can make someone feel as though they have to maintain their image in order to be liked,” says Saltz.
To a certain extent, that was the case for Song, who tells Yahoo Style, “No one is pressuring me to maintain a happy image but it is true that I want to share positive images with my followers rather than negative ones.”
Explaining, “Making that video was therapy to me,” Song was surprised by the therapeutic effect it had on her followers. “I knew people had their moments but didn’t realize how many people in the same industry felt the same way,” she tells Yahoo Style. “I’ve been getting messages not just from my followers but from my peers in the industry that they feel the same way and that they cried with me. I’m happy that we’re starting a conversation.”
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