The Illusionists: Body-Shaming and Self-Hate Are the New Marketing Strategies

Have you ever felt so uncomfortable and unhappy in your own skin that you decided to do something about it by buying particular products? For instance, perhaps you felt like your skin was too dry, dark or old-looking so you went out to buy moisturizers, skin whiteners and anti-ageing creams. Or perhaps you decided that your lips are too thin and your eyes too small so you splurged on makeup products to give you a sexy pout and smoky eyes. Or let’s say that you’ve always struggled with your weight and are now at the point where you would try any pill, beverage or crash diet that works. Then let’s assume that after spending money on all these cosmetics, makeup and weight loss products, you still remain unsatisfied and depressed. This is the point where you begin to consider cosmetic surgery to finally give you the face and body you’ve always wanted.

Perhaps you’ll agree that this sounds like a serious and struggle-filled journey to chase impossible perfection. And perhaps you can even relate to it. This is the struggle that the documentary film, The Illusionists, seeks to explore. The film brings audiences to several corners of the world, including the United States, France, United Kingdom and even as far as Tokyo, Lebanon and India.

The film seeks to examine how fashion and beauty-related industries are using advertising and mass media to promote a standard concept of beauty—which is often Westernized in orientation. For instance, Indian and African-American women are seeking to lighten their skin while women in countries such as Korea or Japan are looking to enhance their breast size or change the shape of their noses or eyes. And everywhere in the world, people are struggling to achieve that perfect weight—regardless of how healthy that weight is.

In The Illusionists, we will learn that this drive to look perfect and modern is in fact a strategy for industries to gain more profits. By bombarding consumers with images that make them feel “too ugly”, “too fat”, “too old” or physically lacking in some other way, consumers begin to feel bad and dissatisfied with themselves. And the more dissatisfied they feel, the more willing they are to purchase products that promise to help them achieve this impossible “beauty”.

As you will learn from the film, this body-shaming and dissatisfaction-promoting campaign is no longer just targeting women. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see men undergoing plastic surgery or little children working out to become more physically fit.

What are your thoughts on the film’s subject matter? There is essentially nothing wrong with desiring to be more attractive and it has always been in fact part of human nature, but what do you think went wrong? What can you say about the lengths that our society will go to today to achieve physical perfection? Feel free to sound out in the comments’ section below!

Be sure to check out the official page of The Illusionists as well to learn more about the film.