As some of you may know earlier this year I started a project called “Wonderful Women Wednesday” where I focus on the achievements that women have made, whether they’re big or small and the impact that they have on those around them. If you want to check out my first instalment, feel free to give it a squizz here.
For the second part of this series I’ve interviewed Tilly Baker, a woman who injects colour into people’s days via her Instagram feed and has also opened up about her experience with Borderline Personality Disorder. Talking about your own mental health can be extremely difficult, but opening up about your experience can definitely help others do the same or at least make them realise they’re not alone. Unfortunately, there is still a culture of silence surrounding mental health – in people’s everyday lives, in communities and in the workplace. Often we are not prepared to deal with this often “invisible” challenge but the more we talk about mental health the more people realise that it isn’t something they need to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.
Personally Tilly (@tillybaker) is one of my favourite instagram accounts, as not only does she express herself through the most amazing make up and colourful clothing but she also comes up with heartfelt phrases like, “The most wonderful thing about art is being able to turn your pain into beauty”.
To hear about Tilly’s style inspiration, her experience with opening up to her followers and advice she has, keep reading!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for me Tilly! Firstly, for those who don’t know you, who is Tilly Baker?
YAY! It’s my pleasure! WELL, I’m basically a green haired, fashion loving, rainbow unicorn trapped in a human’s body. I live and breathe fashion! I’m also an aspiring stylist/makeup artist and reality TV addict. That’s pretty much the main gist of who I am…
It almost goes without saying that your Instagram feed injects colour, love and fun into people’s feeds, is there a moment that you can pinpoint where you decided you wanted to dress the way you do?
I’d say I’ve always been into somewhat outrageous clothing…I’ve never wanted to look like anyone else. I’m constantly reinventing my style…It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was in my ‘pastel fairy princess’ phase which then morphed into my ‘all the colours of the rainbow’ phase. I think I’m going to stay here for a while – it’s pretty fun.
How does it feel to hear young women calling you an inspiration and what advice do you have to those who look up to you?
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT – I’m extremely flattered! I’m so inspired by all the gorgeous people that send love my way and I just want to cyber hug the crap out of everybody. I would tell them ‘DO YOUR THANG, HONEY!’ Even if things aren’t perfect, don’t stop making yourself feel and look fabulous; wear colour, experiment, be outrageous. Don’t second guess yourself, do what feels right and go with it. PUT YOUR GIRL POWER TO GOOD USE!!
And who are your personal style inspirations?
TOO MANY, WOW WHAT AN OVERWHELMING QUESTION!! Helena Lester-card (aka @helibells) is probably my fave Insta fashionista. I pretty much cry sparkly tears of joy and inspiration whenever she posts (I’m 100% OK with how creepy/fangirlish I am). Designer and all round superwoman, Lady Petrova is a wonderful friend of mine and she’s a massive inspiration to me. She’s one of the first people to inspire me to step out side of my comfort zone with fashion and really explore my creativity. If I ever want to feel inspired, I hop on Pinterest and check out some of my fave designers past and present collections/editorials. I also LOVE Fifth Element and am very inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier’s out of this world costume design for the film. If you haven’t seen it, get on it!!
Fashion and style are things that are always changing, do you see your personal style changing any time in the not too distant future?
I couldn’t agree more. And that’s one of the most wonderful things about fashion; you can change it up whenever you want and constantly be inspired by new and reinvented fashions/styles. 80% of my wardrobe is rainbow at the moment but I can go anything girly and pink, and even a bit of ‘Bowie-esque’ androgyny here and there. Going to town on the colourful vibes right now is so much fun and I can’t really see that changing but without even realising it, I’ll probably morph into a galactic space woman who constantly trails glitter behind her at some point.
In an instagram post not too long ago you notified your followers that you have BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and said that you chose to be public about it as mental health is something that needs to lose the stigmas that are attached, which I couldn’t agree with more. Have your fashion and makeup choices helped you convey not only how you’re feeling but also helped you embrace your disorder?
I think there is an initial shudder that everyone has when personality disorders in particular are under discussion. They’re pretty misunderstood and I felt like through my social media presence, I was in a position to shed some light on the disorder and share my own experience in the hopes of creating some understanding/awareness. Too many people (including myself) assume that the ones behind these perfect, curated Instagram accounts have these perfect lives based solely on their highlight reel (instagram feeds, snapchat stories etc). When in reality, there is a story and a PERSON behind every social media account and I didn’t want to remain silent about mine, especially since it’s an ongoing journey for me that I have been battling and will continue to wrestle with throughout my life. Often, my fashion conveys an interesting/unexpected contrast between the colour I exude and the darkness I’m actually experiencing IRL/inside my head. I often feel like I’m all over the place, uncontrollable and erratic, which all sound like negative things; but I try to bring them out in a positive, healthy way through my eccentric self expression, which helps me to accept the highs and lows of what I’m experiencing. One of the fantastic things about my experience with Instagram is that it’s given me a sense of purpose – which may sound tragic to some. These bursts of inspiration and the creative buzz I get from expressing myself in this way is the only thing that get’s me dressed and out of bed sometimes. Creativity and intensity is a huge part of my BPD and that’s something I can fully embrace through this social media platform.
For those who don’t quite understand what BPD is exactly, could you please explain it for them?
Sure. It’s a pretty broad spectrum and everyone’s experience with BPD can vary, but this is how I’d summarise it: BPD is characterized by extremely intense lows and highs, difficulty in maintaining functional/stable relationships, black and white thinking, impulsivity, significant issues with identity/self image and so on. Marsha Linehan is a psychiatrist who has been a huge pioneer/advocate for the support and understanding of those with BPD and one of her quotes really sums it up…’Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. Even the slightest touch or movement can create immense suffering.’ On the flipside there are also amazing things that come with being diagnosed with BPD, such as powerful displays of empathy, a very intense ability to feel the highs of life, strong creativity and sensitivity to name a few! It’s not all bad! I’m optimistic that like many other BPD sufferers, I can overcome the negatives and live a fulfilled life despite all the difficult traits we experience.
I think it’s important that these dialogues are starting about mental health, as the more we talk about it I feel the more people will realise that they’re not alone. Has being public about your disorder helped you and what was the general reaction like?
Exactly! Not to mention, certain mental illnesses and personality disorders get a pretty bad rap, you know ‘crazy, insane, out of control, manipulative, attention seeking’ etc and I felt it was necessary to point out that this is not the case. People often wouldn’t suspect I have BPD, especially through the filter of my social media persona but I want to break down those expectations and perceptions and remind everyone that it’s not always how it seems. I was really apprehensive about opening up, as I thought it was too much of a contrast to how I usually portray myself (happy, bubbly, colourful). But considering the dark places I frequently fall into, I decided to make something positive out of it, which is exactly what I try to do whenever I post on Instagram and unleash my creativity. I couldn’t continue dropping off the radar, coming back and pretending everything was all sunshine and rainbows… It felt really false. I’m really glad I opened up. I was completely overwhelmed by the kindness I received as well as other people sharing their stories with me. I encourage anyone who has a story to tell, to share and seek help. Let’s keep the conversation alive.
As you touched on in that post, social media creates the idea that the people’s lives on there are perfect, so to help shatter that idea, I was wondering what a typical day looks like for you?
Very much so! Well, this is going to sound pretty depressing haha but due to my mental health issues constantly flaring up unexpectedly, I only manage a couple hours of work a week so I spend the rest of my time in bed, eating, watching TV (I love cooking shows and reality TV – how lame), hanging with my cats, taking photos, practicing makeup, dreaming. I try and fit some exercise in if I’m feeling motivated. I can recognise that I’ve been stuck in a rut for some time now and this isn’t where I want to be. I’d love to get to a place really soon where I’m booking lots of work and feeling consistently inspired and motivated. Unfortunately it’s a slow process, and I think it’s important we give ourselves the time we need.
You said that you want to feel empowered by seeking help and I believe that when people who have large followings like you do so, it makes it easier for others to do the same. If people were to only take one message away from you, what would you want that to be?
BE UNASHAMEDLY YOU AND NO ONE ELSE! TAKE AS MUCH INSPIRATION IN AS YOU CAN, THEN SEND IT BACK OUT INTO THE WORLD IN YOUR OWN WAY! Don’t care what they think, do it anyway. Don’t compare or compete, encourage and collaborate. TREAT YO SELF. Accept where you are rather than beat yourself up about where you should be. Never stop working on yourself and your goals; however big or small. Oops that’s certainly more than ‘one message’… Sorry for the bonus answers haha.
And finally the most serious question for last… You can only wear one colour for the rest of your life, what colour do you pick?
OH WOW, THAT IS A VERY DIFFICULT QUESTION!!! Probably YELLOW!! Yellow is the happiest colour in the world and way too many people are afraid of it and how it makes them look, when in reality it brightens everyone’s day and suits everybody! Wear more yellow errybody!
All images have been sourced from Tilly’s instagram.