Sept. 8, 2021 – Early in the first episode, Sampson points to the crucial role the advertising industry has played in determing what is beautiful. The viewer is privy to a photo shoot, where we see an already very conventionally handsome male model subject to retouching. That adland has not just contributed to, but created, increasingly unattainable ideals of beauty and exported them globally is undeniable.

However, Sampson is clear: “I don’t blame advertising for what we face. I don’t blame social media, for what we face as a society. In many ways you can blame capitalism. But all those other industries, in some ways are just tools of a greater machine, and that greater machine is slowly over time changing.”  Equally as significant as the industry’s role in creating an impossible beauty ideal is the potential for ad land to dismantle that same standard.  Corporations have taken advantage of cracks in self esteem for profit. But, Sampson thinks, “over time, these organisations are growing a conscience on some level.”  That being said, when asked on whether he thinks we can ever truly dismantle beauty ideals, Sampson reflected that he’s “not certain that there’s a switch that we flick, and then that’s it, we’re off.”

Part of a solution, according to scientific research discussed in the series, is increased diversity in media.

Increased diversity, Sampson explained, “has a dramatic impact on people’s body satisfaction”.

“I know some people will be infuriated by the film. I know some people will be offended, there’ll be people on both sides, because there’s a lot and it covers a lot of issues.”

However, “I also believe as a parent, our kids live in this world, they swim in that water all the time…they’re doing it at school, they’re doing it when we’re not around.”

“You cannot change at this stage, the structures and systems [of] the matrix that exists around us, it’s not a switch.”

The solution, then? Taking a magnifying glass not just to the psychological and culture development of beauty standards, but also to the very real effects of altering our bodies. Perhaps one of the boldest decision the show makes is showing very graphic scenes of surgery, including liposuction, a BBL (Brazilian butt lift), and a face lift.


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