Imagine that you’re shopping for clothes and you try on a pair of high waisted pants. They look really, really good — mysteriously fantastic. However, your friends do not agree; they tell you it’s a bad move to purchase them. But you think your friends are just jealous. In fact, you look so good in those jeans, slimmer than ever.
It may all just be smoke and mirrors — literally.
Meet the Skinny Mirror, created by Belinda Jasmine. It’s been around since 2013, and has a fun-house quality: it makes you look five to ten pounds thinner.
The heart of company’s pitch is that it boosts women’s confidences. By viewing yourself as thinner, then you’ll feel better about yourself. Here’s what Skinny Mirror writes on its website:
“The Skinny Mirror offers a subtle and believable slimming reflection (5-10 lbs) that works on the psyche over time. It gives users the instant visual gratification of a ‘slimmer you’ while educating that how you choose to feel about your body has nothing to do with your actual shape, size or weight. Studies show that our self-image is directly tied to energy levels, feelings of competence, and ‘perceived’ attractiveness. Whether it be conscious or subconscious, you may be one of many struggling to live up to the media ideal that ‘thin’ is beautiful — The Skinny Mirror helps you combat that false ideal. See YOURSELF as beautiful and the world around you will agree.”
While the rest of the world will agree with your inaccurate perception of yourself is up for debate, what’s pretty apparently is that Skinny Mirror’s pitch is convoluted. A mirror that sells itself on the idea that it will make you appear thinner cannot, as the website claims, “combat that false ideal” of thinness equating with beauty. It simply perpetuates it, and preys on the idea that being skinny inherently boosts confidence.
The Skinny Mirror informed Today that it’s not out to dupe women, and that it has a sticker on it that reminds women that what they’re seeing isn’t real.
But the Skinny Mirror’s pitch isn’t entirely new, Today notes. In fact, retailers sometimes use flattering mirrors to boost sales.
“Retailers will use skinny mirrors to deceive customers into looking a certain way when they try on their clothing,” retail expert Andrea Woroch told Today. “The better they look, the more likely they are to buy something.” (Like the aforementioned ill-fitting high waisted pants example.)
Skinny Mirror executed a study in 2014 of 86 shoppers at a lingerie store in Sweden to prove this. The study revealed that people who used a dressing room with a Skinny Mirror reporter greater body satisfaction than those who used a regular mirror. Shoppers who used Skinny Mirrors also made purchases.
88% of customers who used the Skinny Mirror made a purchase, compared to 73% of customers who used a regular mirror. the study found. Overall, the Skinny Mirror group contributed to 54% of total sales.
While retailers might resort to all sorts of tactics given the current tumultuous state of the apparel industry, lying might not be the best move — especially given the rise of body positivity and companies like Aerie that remind women that they’re beautiful as they are.
And Skinny Mirror might be wise to know that since society feels better about themselves, the dieting industry is struggling as a whole — so the market for elongating mirrors might not be so hot, either.
Hayley Peterson contributed to an earlier version of this story.
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