Break Down Stigma With Style
BOTANY & BUTTERFLY 'Scent Bubble' project
"To relieve the social stigma that mental health issues represent"
Work in progress
Stigma is a significant barrier to recovery and care for many individuals with mental illness.
To eradicate stigma, we must first understand what stigma is: ignorance, fear & discrimination.
Just as the red ribbon has been a global emblem to de-stigmatise HIV & AIDS, the pink ribbon has de-stigmatised breast cancer and the yellow daffodil raises awareness for Marie Curie, Dr Tillotson's
wish is for her ‘scent bubble’ product to evolve as an empowering, de‐stigmatising fashion emblem for mental health conditions.
One way to achieve this is through a dynamic ‘tech-enabled 'sensory fashion’ project that attempts to break down stigma with style, via an actionable 'scent bubble' and 'ribbon' dispensed from a wearable pin. The pin will be designed in the form of a "stigma" and "style" from a flower and can be produced in multiple ways.
By merging the power of fragrance, fashion, body positivity and feelings of “empowerment” with botany (the science of plants) and pollinators (butterflies), a vivid sensory story can be told that helps raise mental health awareness and ultimately help de-stigmatise mental illness.
I still get those butterflies . .
In 2014, Dr Jenny Tillotson won a Churchill Fellowship to explore personal wellness interventions using evidenced-based aromas as stress management strategies. Her goal was to develop new wearable technology tools to alleviate anxiety and reduce the risk of an acute bipolar disorder episode (from elated mood to low and mixed moods).
Building on her award-winning ‘Sensory Fashion’ research (Central Saint Martins, 2001 – 2015) and as a creative response to living with bipolar disorder and anxiety for many years (23 years+), the Fellowship focused on the benefits of eScent®, a wearable device that dispenses fragrance triggered by a biometric stimulus.
eScent® is an empowering and enabling platform technology that emits mood-enhancing aromas at the right time, in the right place, depending on context. It works as a biofeedback scent intervention to enhance wellness and can be discreetly embedded into ‘smart’ clothing, jewellery and accessories.
In response to a real-time dynamic change in behaviour, mood, or sleep patterns, eScent® forms a localised and controllable 'scent bubble' around the face; an area of constant, detectable scent based on a change in vital signs (e.g. heart rate, skin response, sweat, stress‐related body odour, voice analysis, blood pressure, etc).
eScent® concentrates on the personal sensory space around the user. It responds to emotional and sensory cues and by communicating aromatic messages, using Artificial Intelligence to build a personalised scent profile by gradually learning from the user. It merges clinical aromatherapy with connected sensors to create data-driven solutions for preventative healthcare. Transformational fragrances are dispensed in short bursts that are relevant to the situation, health condition or context, augmenting how we as humans interact with the physical world around us. For example, this could be the release of counteractive wellbeing scents when a pre-set stress threshold is exceeded - or it could be fine fragrances to bring positive emotions into ‘experience-led’ fashion.
Fashion is the latest style or trend of clothing, hair, accessory, jewellery, and body media. Everyone needs to wear clothing, for warmth, to protect from the elements, to look good, feel confident and display personal identity information about themselves. Fashion also tells stories and communicates a strong message. The personal ‘scent bubble’ formed by eScent®, enhances and empowers the visual message of fashion with medical, sensory, and psychological wellbeing for the wearer. Informed by psychology and neurology studies, Dr Tillotson plans to use eScent® to test aromatherapy “health” claims, particularly the benefits and influence certain fragrances have on affective as well as cognitive states in humans.
Feedback received from psychiatrists, cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists during Dr Tillotson’s Churchill Fellowship in the USA claimed that as a “prodromal” scent intervention and self‐management product, eScent® is likely to benefit human circadian rhythms by reducing stress, improving sleep hygiene and building resilience in the wearer.
eScent® could also attract high levels of acceptability and will be easy to integrate into fashion, not only to relieve the social stigma that mental health issues represent, but to create new sensory experiences for fashion. With consumers (especially the tech-savvy millennial looking for immediate results for their busy lives) spending less on clothes and more on technology and experienced-based purchases, this paves the way for eScent® as experienced-based fashion.
Stigma is a significant barrier to recovery and care for many individuals with mental illness. Just as the red ribbon has been a global emblem to de-stigmatise HIV & AIDS, the pink ribbon has de-stigmatised breast cancer and the yellow daffodil raises awareness for Marie Curie, Dr Tillotson’s wish is for her ‘scent bubble’ product to evolve as de‐stigmatising fashion emblem for mental health conditions.
One way to achieve this is through a dynamic sensory fashion project that attempts to break down stigma with style, via an actionable 'scent bubble'. By merging botany (the science of plants), the power of fragrance, and fashion with body positivity and feelings of “empowerment”, a sensory story can be told that helps raise mental health awareness and ultimately de-stigmatises mental illness. A ‘ribbon’ (pin) will be created inspired by the anatomy of flowers and their pollinators (butterflies, bees, etc) and will be produced in multiple ways from embroidery, paper engineering and other creative techniques.
Using the disciplines of Empathetic Design and Fashion Communication as the driving force, homonyms (words with the same spelling and pronunciation but entirely different meanings) of relevance to botany and fashion will create the setting for a wearable, sensory landscape. For example, Stigma and Style have different meanings in these disciplines but are highly relevant for this project:
Botany: the landing zone at the top of a flower; the stigma plays a pivotal role in reproduction and is where pollen is trapped and germinates to create a beautifully fragrant smelling flower.
Social ‘Hush’: a mark of disgrace associated with a circumstance, quality, or person; "the stigma of mental disorder"
Botany: a structure found within the flower; a long, slender stalk that connects the stigma and the ovary.
Fashion: a way of expressing yourself through what you wear. Style refers to a unique form of clothing or way of arranging your appearance.
Initiated by eScent®’s unique, patented and mood enhancing ‘scent bubble’, the aim of this project is to fuse ‘style’ (plant anatomy // fashion…) with ‘stigma’ (plant anatomy // social ‘hush’…) and develop NEW creative ways to raise awareness through the influence of fashion, combined with fragrance, the power of smell and wearable technology.
The project will draw parallels between ‘pollination’ (fertilisation, germination, the science behind flowers and creating fragrances…) and ‘Sensory Fashion’ (Mood-enhancing fragrance fashion to enhance wellbeing, dream, inspire, to grow your own style, confidence…) with the aim to de-stigmatise mental illness.
The campaign will evolve alongside the technological development of the eScent® product range to alleviate anxiety, stress, help sleep, etc.