With the release of her book earlier this year, Betty Irabor revealed her struggle with depression. The story touched many as a woman with a seemingly perfect life told her painful yet inspirational truth. Now, Betty Irabor turns her pain into power with the inspired Dew collection at
Aunty Betty, as she is affectionately known, is a pillar of the publishing community in Nigeria. As the founder of a popular women's lifestyle magazine, she has touched many with her work. Genevieve magazine provides a safe space for women to discuss all things and enjoy beauty, fashion and health stories too. Genevieve is one of the most enduring print magazines in Lagos, testament to Betty's stellar work.
Earlier in the year, it was announced that Betty would be releasing a book. However, 'Dust to Dew' wasn't the type of book we imagined. Instead of telling us about her charmed life, Betty let us in on something far more profound and impactful; her long battle with depression and sleep disorders.
Speaking exclusively to Pulse about her mental health journey, Betty said:
I think there’s always something gratifying when a public figure steps out to say that I’ve been there and done that and there’s no shame. We can all live regardless of the stigma. I think one of the reasons people don't want to share such experiences in the way I have is fear of being judged, fear of being labelled ‘mad’ because people do not understand mental health and as far as they’re concerned, we are all mad.
I just hope more people will be required to seek therapy, understanding that it is a condition that requires help. When you’re ill, what do you do? You go to a doctor. So when the mind is ill, you go and see a mind doctor. I’m hoping people will feel more liberated and not bogged down by the judgement m of other people and afraid to seek help. It’s alright to say ‘Im going to see a therapist or a psychiatrist’ without any embarrassment’’.
I hope that people can seek help without feeling judged and even if they do judge us, it’s OK, as long as we get the help that we need.
'Dust to Dew' came at such a pertinent time when mental health was at the forefront of people's minds after many high-profile suicides this year. To have somebody that many look up to, admit that they too were suffering and that there was no shame in it, undoubtedly inspired many to admit the same.
Having catalysed the conversation around mental health in Nigeria, Betty is now using her platform to do even more good. This year, she teamed up with 12 designers to create 'The Dew Collection'. The collection is a celebration of life and coming out the otherside. It's a battle cry that we will not allow our demons to get the best of us and that we can use fashion, design and creativity as a form of healing. Designers including Toju Foyeh, DZYN, Style Temple and Mai Atafo.
Speaking about the design collaboration, Betty wrote:
It all started four months ago after the successful release of my book "Dust to Dew". In no time at all and inspite of all the victory dance of a successful book release I found my self hungry for something more and in my typical way of feeling a sense of trepidation before any new project I decided what do I have to lose anyways.
Here we are with the Dew Collection for mental health awareness. Dreams Never Expire. What is that dream? Just Birth it!
The collection was a beautiful reminder that life is for living and that whatever we are going through, we can overcome.
As the designers, models and Betty, took to the runway to the soundtrack of 'I will survive' by Gloria Gaynor, it was definitely a moment to remember and an important way to open the 8th edition of Lagos Fashion Week.