Ethnic identity expressed in clothing is good for adolescents' mental health

April 15, 2008

Young people who dress according to the customs of their own ethnic group are less likely to have subsequent mental health problems than those who don't, suggests research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The findings are based on just under 1000 white British and Bangladeshi 11 to 14 year olds in East London schools, where levels of population diversity are among the highest in the UK.

In 2001 the pupils were quizzed about their culture, social life, and health. They were surveyed again two years later, focusing on their mental health.

The findings showed that having friends from their own and other cultures (integrated friendships) or only having friends from their own culture made no difference to mental health.

But clothing choices did.

Bangladeshi pupils who wore traditional clothing were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than those whose style of dress was a mix of traditional and white British/North American tastes.

When this was broken down by gender, this only held true for the girls.

But white British pupils who chose to wear a mix of clothes from their own and other cultures enjoyed relatively good mental health.

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, say the authors, and their identity is often bound up in clothing and friendship choices.

Cultural integration is the healthiest option for young people living in a multicultural society, but pressures to change lifestyle, attitudes, or behaviours can be very stressful, they say.

But retaining cultural identity through clothing may be important for good mental health, they conclude.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: The ethical slipperiness of hoaxes

Related Stories

The ethical slipperiness of hoaxes

June 1, 2015

Hoaxes sure can stir up a lot of emotion, can't they? We tend to have a quick reaction to them, and they flush out differences in values quickly, too.

The problem with solitary confinement

April 1, 2015

It's a practice that has been in the news since the Ashley Smith case first made headlines and, last week, the Ontario government announced it had launched a review of its solitary confinement policies.

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.