More and more I’m seeing people mention the new street fashion in Japan called Menhera which is ridiculous because it’s been around for a long time. It started around the same time as emo was taking off in the West, the beginning of the century, but at that time it had more to do with realistic bandages and eye patches whereas now it’s a mashup with kawaii.
Menhera is netizen slang for with mental illness and the fashion is mostly based on kawaii medical aesthetics, often romanticizing suicide or self-harm in general. If you push it a little further it becomes Guro which is kawaii gore. Obviously aesthetics like these are taboo across the East and West even with cultural differences so obviously the reason why anyone would use this fashion is for rebellious purposes.
That’s undoubtedly true for some people but that hasn’t exactly been my personal experience. I’ve always been kind of confused why it wasn’t obvious why someone, especially someone crippled, might gravitate toward these aesthetics.
Most Menhera incorporates medical items that people find scary like needles and medication but when you are disabled you come to a point where you are are desensitized to these sorts of things. You’re used to be surrounded by painful equipment and bandages and wires but despite how desensitized you are these things aren’t ever especially pretty. Medical items aren’t fashioned for fashion; everything is cold and personable and monochromatic.
When I was little my crippled peers and I would decorate our accessible items with stickers and ribbons and beads. We constantly had these items with us and relied on them so we want to personalize them. These were also things that the normal kids would steal or mock us about. Those things are easier to deal with when the item brought us a sense of pride instead of shame.
The adults intellectually understood this after we explained it but it still made them uncomfortable so we would get in trouble for it. These items aren’t supposed to be cute, they told us, they aren’t toys. We were supposed to be learning to overcome disability, not embrace it. If it couldn’t be cured it should be overcome.
When Cripple Punk was still in its infancy I was shopping for new pill cases and posting about it on Tumblr. I wanted one as cute as possible so when I used it I wouldn’t feel like a failure for having to take so much medication, a very common problem for people with chronic illness. Some Spoonies were watching and we started recommending things to each other but some normal people were also watching and tried to shut down the conversation. They said we were romanticizing drug abuse and disability. You’re god damn right we were.
If only some people ever had to shit the others would complain that decorating your bathroom was romanticizing it.