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The uncontrollable cost of beauty

I used to peruse the makeup section every time I entered a pharmacy. The rows of products would stare at me when I walked in, glinting and sparkling, until I would give in and buy an unneeded new mascara or my bajillionth bottle of nail polish. I didn’t even wear makeup most days! But I had been trained to see these products and automatically think, “This will make me pretty!”

According to the personal-finance site, Mint, the average woman will spend $15,000 on cosmetics in her lifetime. For some women, $15,000 is the equivalent of a handful of luxurious vacations. For others, $15,000 is more than a year’s salary. And this hard-earned money goes toward the ridiculous $60 billion dollar annual revenue of the industry.

Not only are the beauty ideals that the media shoves at us unattainable by the average woman, the costs of the products that we are supposed to buy in order to look “beautiful” are prohibitive. The beauty industry constructs its standards to make us feel less-than, persuading us to make purchases that will “fix” us. We need to take the focus off of silky-smooth skin, the perfect smokey eye, and kissable lips because not all women can afford to buy into this made-up ideal. Literally.

We know it’s not healthy for women to equate our worth with the reflection we see in the mirror. We are so much more than that. But it’s not just a body image issue. It’s a class issue. We need to stop judging a woman’s value on the products she can afford.

Gabriella is a positive body image enthusiast, an actor, and a singer. She currently lives in New York City and works at HIAS, the Jewish non-profit for the resettlement and protection of refugees.

2 thoughts on “The uncontrollable cost of beauty

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  1. I too am guilty of pursing cosmetic counters when I enter stores… all the “miracle” products they shelve is hard for many women to resist. However, like you said you were “trained” to believe that these products would make you more beautiful even though you probably already had a very similar product at home. It really is incredible what media and advertisements are able to accomplish by constantly pushing wonder products with wild claims upon consumers. Obviously successfully so, I had no idea that the average woman spent about $15,000 on cosmetics in her lifetime! All of that money is used to buy product to fit an ideal created by the industry which is profiting from it. No wonder the ideals and images represented are unattainable, if they were not we would have no reason to believe we needed the product. I also really like that you brought up the fact that it is more than an image issue but a class issue, this is something I had never thought of before but definitely part of the problem in the fashion and beauty industries.

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