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Interview with Maybelline New York's Jessie Feinstein on Advocating for Gen Z

Generation Z has grown up in an age of high stress and anxiety, with around 70% of teens across all identity intersections saying that anxiety and depression is a significant problem for them and their friends. While it may feel like a disheartening statistic, there is a silver lining: Gen Z are also more willing to talk (and write) about it.

For the second year in a row, Wattpad and Maybelline have teamed up under the #BraveTogether initiative, inviting Wattpad’s Gen Z community to elevate and celebrate stories of bravery, empathy, and support in the face of mental health issues.  

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This year, Wattpad shared weekly writing prompts during the month of May, encouraging Wattpadders to hone in on their writing craft and dig deep into their vulnerability. They answered questions about how they deal with their own mental health struggles, how they help their loved ones, and how writing on Wattpad helps them to keep pushing forward. For every story submitted, we’ll donate $1 (up to $40,000 collectively) to four leading mental health organizations including Sad Girls Club, The Loveland Foundation, Ali Forney Center, and The JED foundation. 

To understand more about Gen Z and mental health, we chatted with Jessie Feinstein, Maybelline New York’s SVP of Marketing, about the #BraveTogether initiative, what brands are responsible for when it comes to mental health stigma, and how to provide safe spaces for Gen Z.


Wattpad Brand Partnerships (WBP): Why was it important for Maybelline to launch the #BraveTogether initiative?

Jessie Feinstein (JF): When we set out to launch Brave Together a few years ago, we realized that anxiety and depression affects more than 548 million people worldwide and that half of all mental health conditions develop by age 14. We knew we needed to use our global footprint to address this topic that directly affects our community and take action.

In doing so, we’ve facilitated extensive research to ensure our work has a positive impact. We found that early intervention, paired with the right resources and access to 1:1 support, can make all the difference in a young person’s life. With that, we built a program that proactively provides resources and support to those dealing with anxiety and depression.


63% of Gen Z believe that brands can create real change where they incorporate social causes in their marketing and business strategies More than 50% of them believe that brands have the responsibility to do so (2)


WBP: How do you think brands can create safe spaces for their audiences?

JF: Women are disproportionately impacted by anxiety and depression, as one in five are affected. With the beauty industry being predominantly fueled by women, we have a community who has the power to create change and shift the conversation—which is exactly what we need to help de-stigmatize and normalize talking about anxiety and depression. 


WBP: What practices would you recommend to brands looking to support Gen Z through their corporate social initiatives?

pexels-cottonbro-7321032JF: We’re committed to creating change by consistently offering easily accessible expert advice through our Brave Together website and social channels. We also are partnering with Crisis Text Line on a co-branded text line (text TOGETHER to 741741), which provides free access to a crisis counselor 24/7. We’ve committed to donating $10 million by 2025 to global and local mental health organizations, and are working with Dr. Kathleen Pike, a psychologist at Columbia University, to compile a global report focused on the key factors that play a role in anxiety and mood among Gen Z women. We’re also launching our podcast, “I’m Fine, You” on June 16, 2022 that will feature conversations about mental health with host, writer and brand consultant Chrissy Rutherford.


To find out more about how brands and marketers can help Gen Z women find empowerment, read more here.