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The Real Cost of Beauty: I miss your face

Beauty and supposed self-care can be a form of imprisonment. Twice this week I had a client share that she didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house without her make up on.

Note this doesn’t just apply to women. Men have their fair share of beauty obligations. Did you know that men are now required to have beards, man buns and hairless chests? Get that hair in the right place!

Current beauty trends have moved beyond just make up into the world of permanent and semi-permanent fixtures. Including old and new:

  • Gel nails – must get filled every 2-3 weeks at $35

  • Tattooed eyebrows - $350-$800

  • Fake eyelashes – get refilled every 2-4 weeks; initial cost $150-$200 and refills are $55

  • Hair dye - $150, with touchups every 6 weeks

  • Tattooed eye liner – at least $250, with touch ups in 3-5 years

  • Waxing/sugaring - $55 every 6 weeks

  • Want to get rid of hair permanently?! Electrolysis is about $75 an hour with appointments every 6 weeks until you’ve covered the entire area. Usually totals about $1,200.

We haven’t even started talking about the regular make up bag: foundation, concealer, powder, eye liner, mascara, eye shadow, lip liner, lip stick, multiples of all the colors.

Or the really pricey stuff like Botox or medical grade skin lightening lotions or high-end facials. One local Seattle spa charges $499 for a facial!

How much time, attention, effort and money are going into this on a daily basis? It adds up fast. Include all the time spent making the appointments, driving, parking! What about all the time spent hating or judging yourself for not being all done up?

What I’m mostly concerned about is the message we are sending to young girls. They need to see a diverse range of what is ok. They need to see what a face looks like without any enhancements. Otherwise they will grow up thinking this stuff is required.

Make up should be fun, not a requirement in order to feel good.

I remember a close friend of mine always felt very self-conscious about her breast size, especially compared to her mom who was well endowed. When she was an adult, she opted to have breast enlargement surgery and it helped her self-esteem. Only then did she learn that her mother had had the same surgery decades earlier but never told her daughter. Daughter grew up comparing herself to mom and feeling not good enough. This type of thing happens all the time!

People deserve options and they deserve to have fun with their choices! They get to choose what beauty routines feel good. I’m not here to shame you for your choices. I’m reminding you that you HAVE a CHOICE. People have been wearing eye liner since before Cleopatra. I’m not suggesting we turn into hairy frumpy plain janes.

I do think we need to take a long hard look at what we are doing to ourselves and how we are spending our time and attention. Besides, some of this shit is toxic!!!

Facebook recently showed me a memory picture from Thanksgiving 2011. My initial reaction was, “My eyes look so plain!” We’re all deeply embedded in concepts of beauty. Like a fish in water – it’s hard to see the assumptions we are swimming in.

Julia Roberts got trolled hard for posting this no makeup picture.

Women will feel adamant and defensive about their beauty choices. Defending them as a right to self-care. There is some kernel of truth to that – but real self-care looks different. The college student that scrounges up $100 a month for eye lashes wouldn’t consider spending $100 on a massage. A massage is too indulgent and excessive. A massage is real self-care.

I invite you to take a look at your routines, your time, money and attention. I invite you to consider giving yourself a wider range of looks that also includes a fresh face. I invite you to explore what self-care really means to you. I’m asking you to think about the message you are sending to other women, to men and to young girls.

How many hours and dollars do you spend a month on beauty? Multiply that by all the women around you. Think of the power of this investment. Could it be more beneficial spent otherwise?

We’re also sending mixed messages. A woman gets her hair and make-up done to look good and attract a person. But then “don’t kiss me and mess up my makeup, don’t mess up my hair.” Come close, go away!

Another note – high heels cause pain and an incorrect gait. You don’t look strong and stable when you are hobbling down the street. It reinforces the myth that woman are weak and unstable.


This is not a disclaimer. I’ve worked for the last 11 years in the world of eating disorders. I see first-hand how body image and self-esteem can threaten a person’s life. I’m biased and I have an opinion. People I love participate in all of the things above, myself included! Its complex and it deserves talking about.

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