Kids' clothing choices may affect their mental health

April 16, 2008

Children who express their cultural identity through what they wear may be improving their mental health, according to a study in the May Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Children who express their cultural identity through what they wear may be improving their mental health, according to a study in the May Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

In 2001, researchers surveyed 1,255 British and Bangladeshi school pupils from East London, ages 11 to 14, to gather data on their cultural, social, and health characteristics. In 2003, 900 of these pupils were resurveyed and completed mental health measures.

Compared with Bangladeshi children who displayed no cultural clothing preference, those who preferred clothes from their own cultural group were less likely to have later mental health problems. This finding persisted only among girls in gender-specific analyses.

However, white British children who wore a combination of clothing from their own and other cultures displayed relatively good mental health. The authors suggested that adolescent identity is often tied to clothing choices, and retaining cultural identity through clothing may be good for mental health.