In her cover interview for the summer 2020 issue of Marie Claire, Dakota Johnson spoke briefly about her history of depression, which she’s been dealing with since she was just a teenager.
From an eventful upbringing that featured two famous parents (Dad is Miami Vice star Don Johnson), divorce, and a childhood split among Colorado, Los Angeles, and countless film sets, she emerged the consummate observer. “I’ve struggled with depression since I was young—since I was 15 or 14. That was when, with the help of professionals, I was like, Oh, this is a thing I can fall into. But I’ve learned to find it beautiful because I feel the world,” she says. “I guess I have a lot of complexities, but they don’t pour out of me. I don’t make it anyone else’s problem.”
That tension is precisely what makes Johnson so compelling on-screen.
I’ve also been struggling with depression myself for a number of years, and while I do believe it’s possible to find beauty in one’s individual experience of illness, referring to depression as “beautiful” feels like a disingenuous way of describing mental illness. But it’s also not uncommon for wealthy, famous white women to be quoted discussing their experiences with mental illness in terms so abstract that they’re rendered nearly meaningless. (If you’re doubting me, just watch Gwyneth Paltrow in The Goop Lab). Discussing mental health struggles in this way feeds into the oddly romanticized idea of the “beautiful sad girl” while simultaneously obscuring the fact that mental illnesses are just that—illnesses.
But it isn’t just Johnson’s own description of her depression that’s the problem here. It’s also disheartening to see the piece reduce Johnson’s experience with depression to a “complexity” that makes her a better actor, or simply a side effect of her unusual and eventful childhood. Treating depression as simply a means to achieve personal growth and artistic depth ignores the difficult reality of learning to live with any mental illness in favor of some tortured artist trope.
So let’s be honest here—for many people, depression involves a lot more crying on public transportation and bathroom panic attacks than would normally be considered “beautiful.” [Page Six]
In case you need a reminder of what day of the week it is. (I know I do.)
- Soon-to-be-divorced Mary-Kate Olsen reportedly has an “ironclad prenup.” [Us Weekly!]
- Someone shot Hope Solo’s dog. [TMZ]
- Kyle Richards accused her fellow Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Denise Richards of staging scenes. [Us Weekly!]
- Even more Southern Charm cast members may be leaving the show. [Us Weekly!]