Mainstream clothes can take away a girl's peace of mind

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London, Apr 15 (UNI) Mixing mainstream westrenised clothes in the wardrobe and shedding ethnic clothes can take away your peace of mind.

A new study has discovered that expressing their ethnic identity through their clothing has "a protective effect" on the mental well-being of adolescent girls. However, their male counterparts are better when they choose mainstream clothes.

''We think that the traditional clothing does reflect an inner state of identity and well-being,'' says Kamaldeep Bhui, co-author of the paper and a professor of cultural psychiatry and epidemiology at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The British study said Bangladeshi girls who mixed westernised or mainstream clothes in their wardrobe were one-tenth more prone to suffer mental illness two years ahead of that those who don traditional cultural clothes.

Boys, on the other hand, enjoyed a 30 per cent reduction in mental health risks when they outwardly assimilated by choosing ''Westernized'' clothes rather than combining traditional and mainstream outfits. Those results held true even when financial differences were taken into account.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, looked at 383 Caucasian students aged 11 to 14 and 517 students of Bangladeshi background in East London.

Mental well-being was determined with a standardized questionnaire on which people who score above a certain threshold are thought to be at risk for mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression.

Bhui speculates it's more advantageous for boys to fit in, while girls, generally married to their culture may live a more protected life that insulates them somewhat from risky relationships and situations.

''The study suggests that young people in multicultural, multiracial environments do face adaptive challenges," Bhui says.

"We don't pay enough attention to that, and that they are faced with choices over friendships and clothing and many other markers of identity." There's no reason to think the findings wouldn't apply to other ethnic groups or to a Canadian context, the researchers say.

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