How Unrealistic Beauty Standards Are Costing You Money

Is the cost of beauty worth our time and money?

I never even cared or thought about my appearance until other people started to point things out to me. Even when I was very young, relatives would tell me my face was very round, and my skin was dark.

In a Korean household, it’s very culturally acceptable to make comments about physical appearances. They may not have meant these comments to be criticisms, but I started to become insecure about the way I looked.

Brushing teeth

In my late teens and early 20s, I had severe acne. I was pushed to try all different kinds of creams, ointments, and treatments. That’s when I started to feel insecure.

According to Korean beauty standards, your physical appearance is considered a reflection of how successful you will be in life. Beauty standards become relevant to your social standing, your job, and your life.

Without realizing we end up subscribing to beauty standards that are portrayed online, in social media, or just comments from friends and family. This all weighed heavily on my self-esteem. It began to distort my own values and self-image.

Window shopping

Beauty standards can vary based on geographical location, culture, and even historical context.

Here in the West, we have our own set of beauty standards, and now that I’m in my 30s, I am constantly being pushed anti-aging products and different types of skincare and makeup products.

It’s not a coincidence that the beauty industry is estimated to be worth 532 billion dollars and is growing faster than ever before. Beauty and money have become inextricably linked.

Dress on display

Back in the day, traditional media used models like celebrities and public figures to set trends. It was clear to most of us that the images we saw in magazines were heavily edited and unrealistic, and it felt unrelatable.

Now we have social media and influencers to promote the beauty industry, and it was appealing that the message seemed more authentic, coming from our peers.

Influencer marketing became so powerful because the public felt they could identify with those creating the advertising. The problem is that with social media we all have access to apps and filters that can drastically alter our appearances.

The lines between traditional ads and the ones we see on social media are becoming blurred. Both are perpetuating an unrealistic image of beauty.

Taking selfie

We can smooth out wrinkles, alter the size and shape of our bodies, and even change facial features all with the click of a button. This can be misleading when holding a product as if that product will give you the beauty portrayed in the image.

Studies show that there are mental health implications when using social media, especially among young girls. It can cause anxiety, low self-esteem, and even body dysmorphia.

The media we’re comparing ourselves to is not real at all. These are unnatural, curated images. The beauty we are seeing is a result of heavy photo editing. The bar keeps getting set higher and higher and the beauty and wellness industries are the ones making a profit off of our insecurities.

An ideal beauty standard is a product that’s being sold to us. If we all felt completely satisfied with ourselves, these industries would lose money. Companies would go out of business. I, for one, spent a great deal of money buying products that spoke to my specific insecurities.

Walking on beach

I let others set my standard of beauty for me. I was perfectly happy until these industries convinced me that I needed certain things to conform to this uniform standard of beauty.

I spent a lot of money to eventually come to the realization that I don’t need these things at all.

Drying hair

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with wanting to be beautiful or buying skincare and makeup products. Everyone is entitled to spend their money however they want.

But in this materialistic, judgmental world, I do think we should be kinder to our bodies, ourselves, and each other. It’s okay not to fit into this one idea of beauty because nobody does.

The cost of beauty

Consumers have demanded that brands and companies use different models to represent different demographics and body types. Now it’s our turn to reflect the types of changes we want to see on social media.

That’s why, as an influencer, I do my best to be honest and project my most authentic self. My hope is that we can empower each other and advocate for authenticity.

I have grown to love my round face, and even love the wrinkles forming around my eyes. I’m just grateful to be healthy and strong. That is a beauty standard that will never go out of style.

How do you feel about the cost of beauty? What are you doing to maintain your personal standard of beauty? Leave me a comment so we can discuss it.

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2 of 3 comments
  • Dennycakes Dennycakes on Jan 21, 2024
    Good for you for putting this out there !!! We all need to reminded that we are all beautiful and need to focus on health - I decided to not wear makeup anymore and it was so freeing !! I don’t need it and don’t want it and want to spend my money on other things - we all need to do what’s right for our spirits - maybe that’s wearing makeup !! Maybe it’s not !! But we all need to be kinder to ourselves for sure - good for you for not letting other opinions define who you are 💜💜💜
  • Jennifer Baker Jennifer Baker on Jun 12, 2024
    I don't wear makeup at all or skin creams. I've never really felt pressured to invest in that stuff. I plan on aging gracefully, accepting what is to come. I agree that marketing pushes unnatural and unnecessary products by preying on people's insecurities with how they look.