Ellie Thumann Opens Up About Mental Health Struggle During New York Fashion Week

The 2023 SI Swimsuit rookie uses her platform to share both her highs and lows as an influencer.
Ellie Thumann

Ellie Thumann.

SI Swimsuit’s “Be You Women’s Empowerment Series,” presented by Maybelline, was held at the University of Cincinnati on Sept. 21, where brand stars like Christen Harper, Sixtine and Ellie Thumann opened up about all things mental health. 

During a panel discussion, Thumann was particularly candid about how she uses her online platforms—including YouTube, Instagram and TikTok—to make her followers feel comfortable opening up about their mental health by being transparent about her own struggles. 

The 21-year-old influencer used her recent experience with an anxiety attack during New York Fashion Week, and what she described as an “anxious month” in general, to illustrate her point.

“I was in New York for fashion week, which online, seemingly looks like it was perfect... and I love it, I’m very grateful for it, but there was just something off and I knew it when I went into that trip, feeling so anxious,” Thumann admitted of the experience. “And I was like, s---, how are we gonna do this?”

She shared that after spiraling, she found herself crying in a diner at 11 p.m. one evening. After realizing that she could either portray a carefree, fun-filled highlight reel on social media for her fans or a realistic account of her day, she chose the latter.

“I’m so glad I did that, and I think that kind of translates to what my goal is through my content, showing a 21-year-old girl who is still trying to figure it out [and] still struggles with it daily,” Thumann shared, noting she’s still learning new mechanisms to cope with her anxiety. “... I try and be a role model that just makes it normal to talk about, makes it feel relatable, makes it look like someone that can travel and have this amazing career that I’m so blessed to have, can still struggle and find a lot of stress and anxiety with it. And so, I think the more I talk about it... [and] just openly show what I struggle with, I think that can help so much more in an authentic, genuine way.”

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.