We started the unit on the Beauty Industry, Cosmetic Surgery, and Body Image in Body Image class last week. This is always one of my very favorite units, partially because it is so fascinating to talk about and there is so much nuance to these issues but also because some of these statistics simply blow my mind. Even if I have taught this class 8 times now, I am still blown away by the above statistic (and its update each year). Americans spent $17 billion on our appearance last year (and this doesn’t count things like clothing). To put that in perspective, the entire economy of Ethiopia in 2009 was just under $34 billion dollars. We spent half of Ethiopia’s economy on beauty.
And I don’t need or mean to sound sanctimonious about that figure because I certainly invest in beauty, too. But I have decided to be more aware of it. A few years ago, I tracked all of my bookstore spending and found that I spent thousands on books and magazines in a year. It was an easy thing to do as a writer (especially when books and magazines were a work expense!), but, at the end of that year, I was just aghast at my spending and decided to drastically curtail it. I became an enthusiastic library user and am a more conscientious book buyer- I still buy books, but I am much more careful about what I buy. I also let most of my magazine subscriptions go.
I’ve decided to give my beauty regimen the same treatment. For the next few months, I am going to track my beauty spending. Just how much do I spend on beauty in any given period is a question that I couldn’t quantify if asked and, yet, given the work I do and my constant quest for awareness, I should probably know. While I don’t mean for the tracking to result in new behavior yet, I do realize that just by having to track my spending, I will probably curtail some of my beauty buying. Hence, the number I come up with in a few months will be even less than what it would have been without the awareness of tracking. At the end of this little project, I’ll decide what to do about it, if anything. For now, I just want to know.
The tracking started with Saturday’s shopping:
Curling Iron $12.89.
Have you ever thought about how much you spend on beauty? Are you up for tracking your own price of beauty? Want to join in?