Awareness | Posted by Julie Z on 04/9/2010

Hot Topic Thinks Cutting Is Cool

Hot Topics Razor Blade Purse

Hot Topic's Razor Blade Purse

I didn’t even know what “cutting” was until around middle school when a friend of mine casually called a girl in our grade a “cutter.” When I asked her what a cutter was she told me it was a person who cut themselves, usually with razor blades, because they wanted to make a statement to get attention. I’m pretty sure she also mentioned that cutters are always goth/emo. She was wrong in her assessment of what cutting is, but it’s getting more and more clear where she was steered astray.

I don’t think cutting is an issue that we’re completely culturally aware of. Whereas eating disorders are becoming increasingly understood as exactly that – disorders – rather than strictly ways  for girls to get attention or direct results of narcissistic body obsession (although eating disorders are still a serious problem, believe me), cutting hasn’t really reached that place in our social consciousness yet. We still see cutting as something related to the cutter’s personality rather than a response of theirs to what is usually emotional trauma.

Hot Topic clearly didn’t get the memo. They’re selling a purse advertised as being “shaped like a razor blade.” I guess they consider cutting to be seriously badass, which is basically what Hot Topic brands itself as. So now cutting is not only no big deal at all – it’s a fashion statement.

According to I Heart Daily (who posted about this purse as well), teens and young adults are at the greatest risk for self-injury with skin cutting being the most common form. A recent study even reports that 46% of 9th and 10th graders have performed at least one act of self injury, including 14% who have cut or carved skin. And as reports, cutting is most often preformed by girls. If you’re interested in reading some teen perspectives on cutting, I recommend checking out this website. While I could easily rant on why cutting is bad, bad, bad it’s probably a better idea to hear about it from somebody who has actually been through it.

In the end, though, this purse is just another example of how big fashion companies need to be way more responsible in the products they put out there. It’s not about being overly “politically correct” – it’s about the message this company is sending to countless teens. I’m not saying a teen looking at this purse is going to trigger their eyes to glaze over while they almost incoherently mutter, “I think I’ll go cut myself now” and wander off to find a razor. But it’s just another way of reassuring teens who are already cutting or who are already susceptible to it that what they’re doing is not just okay, but cool.

Cutting is not fashion, it’s a serious problem. Apparently, that actually needs to be stated.

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  • Laura H @ at 3:08 pm, April 9th, 2010

    I too am shocked that anyone has to actually tell these people that “cutting is bad and certainly not cool”. Thanks for your talk about eating disorders too. I wrote an article the other day that mentioned them and I focused so much on the negative body image stuff, I think I may have forgotten to mention the fact that they are actually a medical disorder. Head up there, people! Thanks for the great post by the way!

  • Zoe @ at 3:58 pm, April 9th, 2010

    Cutting is so misunderstood because not even psychologists have good answers for it. As a graduating psychology major, we’ve only covered cutting briefly in class and usually as a symptom, without explanation for why it occurs. We did cover one study of why people cut and the answers are all very different.

    I used to cut (still do sometimes, though rarely because I realize that intentional cuts are hard to cover and explain anymore). I’m only recently really understanding why it is I do it and if there is something I can do to avoid it.

    It does have a very big stigma attached to it, and maybe some people do it for attention. But it is attention-seeking to get help or recognition of their emotions.

  • Jen @ at 5:52 pm, April 9th, 2010

    Oh, that bag is vile. Hot Topic really blew it.

  • Samuel W. @ at 9:24 pm, April 9th, 2010

    Well, hot topic definitely went way overboard here. Come on guys, don’t go that route! It makes the store all the more predictable as an ‘emo’ store, not to mention making wrist cutting a ‘cool fashion trend’, unbelievably enough. i think it’s quite clear that this phenomenon has nothing to do with fashion at all!

  • Elle @ at 9:07 am, April 10th, 2010

    This is a really interesting article for me to read, being a 14 year old girl. Right now, I’m in eighth grade, and it was in sixth grade when I started mutilating my skin. I can tell you that it definitely was not for attention. Far from it. I wore long sleeves all the time, if it was too hot, I would wear bangles all up my arms. I’m not sure what exactly triggered it, but I have a feeling that it could have been my body image— I had always been very… uh. Big. Even as a young kid. I’ve always had emotional issues. But that’s another story. Anywho, I just wanted to say that it’s shit for Hot Topic to glamourize cutting. I have stopped cutting earlier this school year after I confided in the school’s guidance counselor, and I’ve found better ways to cope with stress/anxiety/whatever.
    But thanks for posting this :]

  • Lauren @ at 2:54 pm, April 11th, 2010

    Thank you for posting this; cutting is definitely not something to glamourize, and shame on Hot Topic for attempting to profit off of the “suicidal Goth” stereotype. Cutting is a serious issue that affects all types of people, not just “Goths” or “Emo kids” and not even just women. For my entire late teen years I coped with a boyfriend who mutilated himself regularly and, I have to say that cleaning his cuts, bandaging him up and scrubbing blood out of his clothes and mine was anything but cool. And 10 years later, it’s a situation that still haunts me. We are no longer together, and he has apparently stopped this behavior, but it is something that sticks with you and definitely is NOT something to be made fashionable.

  • Felicia @ at 1:15 pm, April 12th, 2010

    Zoe, Elle, and Lauren: Thank you for sharing your personal experiences.

  • May @ at 2:43 pm, April 12th, 2010

    Woah there honey! Cutting isn’t cool but neither is it always a cry for attention. Sometimes it’s a way for someone who has no support system and feels completely isolated to work through depression. I know, because I was a cutter for about ten years. It was something that was completely personal and very important to me. If you haven’t ever been in that situation, you can’t understand the despair and self-loathing and depression that is all a factor in it.

    While I agree it’s nothing to glamorize, attacking the people who do it, isn’t going to solve any problems either.

    I felt too offended by the first few lines to read more of this post so I hope it got less judgmental.

  • Julie Z @ at 5:29 pm, April 12th, 2010

    @May – I recommend you read the rest of the post, because the entire point of it is to disprove that statement. But thank you for sharing your experience.

  • karen Conterio @ at 9:16 pm, April 14th, 2010

    Always remember you are far more then just a symptom. For more information check out We also have a “trigger free” blog.

  • Adrian @ at 4:51 pm, April 20th, 2010

    I have never cut myself intentionally. But I have had friends who cut and even carved their legs and arms. Not being personally affected by this purse, it is hard for me to imagine what an individual thinks when they see something like that in a store. However, I do know what it is like to think that cutting is “cool”. In middle school I felt like it was what everyone was doing. Back then it was all about the attention people got from cutting. That is not to say that everyone cut to get attention, but it was definately a part the situation. In my opinion, Hot Topic has thrown more fuel on the fire of cutting. I agree with most of you when I say that accessories like this only encourage aggressive behaviors against yourself.

  • RAVEministries @ at 9:51 am, October 15th, 2010

    Cutting is NOT cool! It is an awful influences that effect so many people! I believe the Hot Topic should not merchandize this disorder. ALL people who believe that cutting is the answer to their problems needs to see the true hope that lies in life!

  • albirea-dintilor @ at 9:13 pm, April 10th, 2011

    Produse Albire Dinti

    Cat de important este zambetul pentru tine? Un studiu a aratat ca oamenii cu un zambet alb si stralucitor au mai mult succes in cariera si viata personala. Alatura-te si tu celor carora albirea dintilor le-a schimbat viata.

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