Perfume commercials tend to be pretty weird... like, really weird.
Beauty ads in general tend to over-glamorize things: people with skin so smooth they look as if they have no pores put on foundation they don't really need, and men and women ski down picturesque mountains with practically no clothes on to sell fragrance.
It's a weird format, but one that works surprisingly well to talk about mental health.
Project UROK launched three parody beauty ads today, hoping that kids who see them understand that as glamorous as the ads look, mental illness is not a glamorous thing, and it's okay to not look perfect all of the time.
"People try and create a perception of themselves that’s prettier than what’s going on inside," Jenny Jaffe, founder of Project UROK, told Refinery29.
These ads were created to help kids dealing with their mental health recognize that creating a persona that looks fine all the time isn't necessary. Project UROK, which is part of the Child Mind Institute, is calling the new campaign #YouAreFine, not to say that people who have disorders like anxiety or OCD have to always feel fine, but because it is fine for them to have the feelings they have — and to show them.
There are three parody beauty ads in the project so far, and there might be more in the future, Jaffe said.
Right now, there are two fake fragrance commercials — for "Anxiete" and "Eau C D" — and a fake lipstick ad, for a color called Trauma.
"Clammy hands, tightness in the chest, a sense of impending doom, now with a French accent," the narrator of the Anxiete ad says. "Anxiete. It's the worst."
"The flip side of people trying to hide their mental illness is the glamorization of it," Jaffe said. She mentioned a scene in Crazy Ex Girlfriend as an example. "The sexy french depression song. It's a moody, beautiful, dark, mysterious thing. The reality is a lot messier. It's people living their lives through it for better or worse."
That's clear in these ads, as the man in the Eau C D commercial worries about his coffee and whether or not he's doing a good job as the star of the ad.
It's not easy talking about mental health, and Project UROK hopes these videos help.
"Comedy has always been a tool for talking about these issues," Jaffe says. Through parody, we can recognize that mental illness is real. Taking care of your mental health is messy sometimes. — and that's totally fine.
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.