Ariana Grande / Thank U, Next / YouTube
I believe, as a culture, we’ve come a long way in terms of how we treat mental health. When Britney Spears suffered a severe and highly publicized breakdown in 2007 (in which she shaved her head, was regularly hospitalized, and lost custody of her children), the world laughed. This year, when Demi Lovato was hospitalised for a suspected overdose, the world stretched out its arms in support.
Obviously I’m speaking broadly here, there were some who treated Britney’s issues with respect, and of course (because we can’t have anything nice) Demi has been trolled. But the general response from fans, celebs, and the media, seems kinder and more empathetic.
A popular meme goes; if Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it through today.
I’d like to offer an update. If Ariana can make it through 2018 (and use it as inspiration for her first ever number one single) you can make it through today.
A bit long, perhaps?
Ariana Grande in 2018 seems a natural comparison to Britney in 2007. Grande is now the same age, 25, that Britney was then. She’s easily one of the most talked-about humans on the planet (ditto Britney circa 2007). Even the seemingly whirlwind nature of her last relationship is comparable to Britney in 2007 (as well as the media’s obsession with these relationships).
So, how come Ariana has come out of this year so differently to Britney in 2007? Obviously she’s benefitting from the aforementioned empathy I believe we’ve gained as a society, but I think there’s more to it than that.
Ariana has been open about being in therapy for over a decade. Recently a fan (responding to how well Ariana has handled one traumatic event after another) tweeted: Who is Ariana’s therapist and are they accepting new clients? Ariana responded saying that while the tweet was hilarious, she is in therapy and it has saved her life ‘so many times’. She continued, ‘if you’re afraid to ask for help, don’t be. You don’t have to be in constant pain & you can process trauma. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s a start to even be aware that it’s possible.’
While everyone has the prerogative to keep their mental health issues private, Ariana has been one of several public figures to be unapologetically open and honest about them. She’s spoken about suffering from PTSD after the Manchester bombing, and about her anxiety which she describes as ‘ongoing’. While some people might not want to share their struggles with the entire world, when Ari does it, it helps chip away the stigma attached to these issues, and for that, we’ve got to thank her.
We live in a cruel world. In 2007 it was the tabloid media, and in 2018 it’s trolls on Twitter. (Plus the tabloid media still exists, bah humbug.) When Ariana, who has been openly mourning the death of Mac Miller, posted a tribute to her late ex, a troll accused her of ‘milking’ his death. While some of us would have had a few choice words for that [redacted], Ariana had the clarity-of-mind to say, ‘I pray you never have to deal with anything like this ever and I’m sending you peace and love.’ She followed it up by saying ‘Some of the shit I read on here makes me sick to my stomach. It scares me the way some people think, and I don’t like this world a lot of the time. If only we could be more compassionate and gentle with one another. That’d be sick.”
Indeed it would be.
Thank U, Next, an ode to learning from one’s heartbreaks, is a perfect way to round out the year. As a total Ariana-convert, I couldn’t be prouder, and I can’t wait to see (and hear) what’s next.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Healthline – 0800 611 116Support Villainesse