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Victoria Aitchison

Victoria Aitchison or 'The Girl Playing Dress Up', is a Fashion Journalist and Stylist, currently in her final year of university. She caught our attention when she decided to base her final university project, 'You Must Be Mental' on mental health issues. She has struggled with depression and anorexia and hopes that fashion magazines will start writing about mental health issues. Victoria has contributed to various magazines and on-line blogs and describes her job as "Merely thinking out loud".

Being a fashion journalism student, you started receiving a lot of attention when you decided to base your final university paper on mental health issues. How would you say these issues relate to the fashion industry?

It’s an incredibly tough industry to be a part of, and it gets harder on a daily basis. You’re surrounded by beautiful people constantly, and the rise in street style bloggers has us all terrified about what to wear during fashion week. It’s very fast paced and unbelievably stressful, but it’s also my passion and I love it.

You yourself struggled with anorexia and depression. Would you say the fashion industry contributed to these issues for you?

I can honestly say hand on heart that I do not know how my illnesses started or where they came from. Yes, I was studying at the time, but I think in this day and age we put too much pressure on adolescents to achieve the unachievable by the time they’re 18. It could happen to anyone.

Do you think it contributes to body image issues in our society?

I think the belief that the fashion industry is responsible for eating disorders is awful. It’s the media, it’s celebrity culture, it’s printing a giant picture of a size 2 woman on a magazine and calling her ‘fat’. That’s where the problem lies.

What has been your biggest hurdle while being in school and managing anorexia and depression?

Feeling as if I had to keep it a secret from my class mates. I was absolutely terrified of anyone finding out in fear I would be labelled. But when I began this project I did an interview for the university newspaper and when people found out they were shocked because I’m ‘so normal’.

You’ve been quoted as saying that you “want to scrap the idea that refusing rehab is cool and instead make talking about mental health fashionable.” What changes do you hope to see in the fashion world?

My main aim is to get fashion magazines writing about mental health, they don’t do it enough. The stories we hear glamourize drinking and drugs, but you never hear the success stories. One of the biggest issues surrounding mental illness is the belief that you won’t recover, you can. I did.

If you could have lunch with your 16 year-old self, what would you share with her?

Nothing. Everything that has happened to me; everything I have been through or done has made me who I am today, a strong, independent, ambitious, kind human being and that makes me incredibly proud. I’ve always said everything happens for a reason and because of that I leave the past exactly where it is.

Since you started your final year project at school, have your role models/heroes shifted or stayed the same? Who are they and why?

I never realized this until now but I don’t really have any. It sounds cliché but I have the most loving family I could ever wish for and I suppose because of this my role models are my brothers, and my heroes my parents. My mum is one of the most amazing people I know, she has very bad rheumatoid arthritis so is in pain 90% of the time but never lets it stop her from doing anything! I suppose that’s where I get it from.

How do you stay on top of what is going on in fashion? What TV shows do you watch? Magazines?

I don’t have a TV, if I want to watch something I’ll watch it on-line but I’m more a movie person. Shows such as Gossip Girl and Sex in the City don’t interest me, I’d rather watch films like Pulp Fiction and Factory Girl for inspiration. Magazine wise I always look out for those magazines which are ‘less well-known’, there is some incredible talent out there and it’s usually these publications which find it first.

What’s one fashion item you couldn’t live without?

My leather jackets, I have an obsession with jackets - I have about 40! Most of them from thrift stores or Ebay. Everyone should own a leather jacket, it’s timeless & goes with absolutely anything.

What’s the best or funnest part about fashion to you?

I like how it’s so personal to everyone. People give it a bad reputation but everyone has a ‘personal style’ - even those who don’t realise it.. And even they can’t say trying on a new dress or suit doesn’t make them feel good, because it does. Fashion can be incredibly fun you just have to give it a chance.