Would the American Economy Collapse if Women Stopped Hating Their Natural Appearance? A Look at Makeup

9 years ago

Last week, I mentioned how pleased I was that douche no longer seems to be a mainstream product in the United States. I thought that this might be a sign of progress: women are no longer accepting that their natural vaginal scent is something to be covered by perfume. A comment from Julie Artz of Chezartz.com stopped me in my tracks. She asked:

How many companies rely on us feeling crappy about our bodies to sell more product? If we all loved our bodies the way they are, douche companies wouldn't be the only ones going out of business--the diet, health & beauty, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic surgery industries would suffer as well!

Think of the money we could save if we loved ourselves and accepted our bodies in their natural state.

Consider some basic statistics:

• The cosmetics industry is a $30 billion industry with an annual growth rate of 20%
• Cosmetics are recession-proof
• They are an affordable indulgence. And a necessity for some!
• Cosmetics are a high-margin product
(Sources: Franching.com; a PBS American Experience documentary on the Miss American pageant notes that the American cosmetics industry was $25 billion in 1999.)

What makes me nervous about the facts listed above is how it makes women look like suckers. Here we are foolishly throwing money away during recessions because we think of makeup like food: it's a basic necessity. Given that women continue to earn approximately 78 cents to every dollar a man makes for doing the same job, every penny of ours counts.

I tried to find reliable statistics on how much the average American woman spends on makeup per year, but the best I could find were estimates ranging from $200 - $5,000. Cosmeticsdesign.com reported that a survey of British women by New Woman magazine found that the average amount spent on cosmetics is "a whopping £3,000 (€4,300) a year" (including hair products).

Is it really worth it to spend our hard earned money on things that make us look stereotypically beautiful? Many would argue that makeup is, in fact, a bargain. Helen Johnson, the editor of New Woman magazine, explained the survey results by noting that, "Just buying make-up and anticipating putting it on makes women feel good." What's the harm in spending a couple of hundred bucks a year to make ourselves feel good? It certainly is cheaper than therapy!

Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life explored whether she should begin wearing makeup, which would cost her about $356 per year:

…should I upgrade my appearance or should I continue to scrimp on cosmetics and clothes? It’s the age old question for women: how much should I fork over to make myself look attractive?… I’m happy to say that I’m content about how I present myself to the public, and for the most part, I haven’t offended the public yet either, so I guess that’s all that matters. For now, I’ve decided to invest my money elsewhere but who knows, the time may come when my female vanity rears its dormant head; and given how fast time flies, that moment may just be around the corner!

In her article "Why Vanity Keeps Us Poor" at Sirens Magazine, Molly Faulkner-Bond writes:

Seriously, I could be rich (or at least get richer faster) if I gave up my beauty routine. Currently, my daily self-prepping involves the following: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, toothpaste, body lotion, face moisturizer, blusher, a bit of glimmer for my cheeks, eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss, and perfume. And I’m a basics kind of gal. Most American women also add in regular salon and spa stuff like spray tanning, waxing, highlights, haircuts, manis, pedis, microdermabrasion and Botox.

At any rate, if women collectively decided that we were fine with our faces without makeup enhancing them, it would certainly cost the American economy an enormous amount of money and thousands of jobs would be lost. It is disheartening to think about how much the economy relies on us to hate our natural appearances (only 3% of women in the British survey felt that they were naturally beautiful).

Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and usually looks like a slob because she's too cheap and lazy to wear makeup

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