Chris Hughes and Why We Shouldn't "Bottle It Up"

                                             *originally published on*

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When “L’eau de Chris” first appeared earlier this week, the internet was nothing short of savage in, quite frankly, tearing the campaign to pieces. Featuring a topless, baby oiled to the nines, Chris and his debut fragrance that was essentially bottled water, the difference being that it was infused with the “tears of Chris.”

To say it received a mix bag of reactions is an understatement, responses ranged from Twitter users whom genuinely believed Chris was launching his own line of bottled water (to be fair, I probably wouldn’t put that past the likes of Jess and Dom, I swear those two will promote anything) to theories of the whole thing being a marketing ploy for Topman boxers.

Twenty-four hours later and the whole thing was revealed to be a publicity stunt by the mental health charity, CALM, in collaboration with Topman to raise awareness for male mental health and revealed that Chris himself had suffered, silently until now, with anxiety. His press conference with the charity, which was released that same day, is well worth a watch and is incredibly moving.

An astonishing 84% of males bottle up their emotions, and this can have a hugely detrimental effect on the mental health and well-being of many men. Unfortunately, many men (and women) still feel the stigma surrounding mental health too strong to be able to talk about how they’re feeling and what they might be going through. Perhaps many feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to, or that they won’t be understood. For some, the impending sense that it is too “un-masculine” to open up about feelings is all too much. The campaign aims to revert this, and encourage people to open up.

Particularly poignant, was how quick to judge people were, and how misinterpreted the campaign actually was, which is so relevant to the campaign itself. What seems to have evoked the most reaction was that “L’Eau De Chris” was “infused with Chris’ tears.” Any fellow Love Island obsessive will remember Chris as one of the more emotional members of the villa, and at first glance, the campaign can be interpreted as a mockery of Chris’ tearful spells. We saw Chris get particularly teary over his tumultuous relationship with Olivia, and even over his prosthetic baby, Cash Hughes – still one of my favourite episodes of the entire series. I think many felt a sense of guilt for ridiculing Chris and the campaign after discovering it to be a publicity stunt, and this response perfectly encapsulates an issue that needed to be highlighted. Men shouldn’t be afraid to be open and to talk to someone about what they are feeling in fear of being mocked or misunderstood and negative labels shouldn’t so easily be attached to male emotion.

What this campaign brilliantly conveyed was the need for us to speak to each other. Ask questions. If someone doesn’t seem himself or herself, ask if they’re okay. No matter who it is, there will always be someone you can speak to, and vitally, someone who is going through the same thing. If we were all to approach mental health more openly, the stigma surrounding it simply wouldn’t exist and collectively, we can challenge a culture that prevents us from opening up and that treats those who suffer from mental illness as a minority. It shouldn’t be some secret, or something to be ashamed of. It’s an unseen illness, yes, but don’t stigmatize what you don’t understand.


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