How Much Do You Pay For Beauty? Flushing Health, Wealth, and Happiness Down the Toilet

The High Cost of Beauty: Giving up Wealth, Health, and Happiness

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Friday Musings…

I believe it was 7th grade. One of my closest friends cried that she needed a nose job. “It’s way too big!” I thought she looked great. What did I know?

When I tried to persuade her not to do it, I’ll never forget what she told me; “Every time I look in the mirror, all I see is this nose. Beautiful people have little noses. Have you ever seen a model with a nose like mine?” She wound up getting one of those “model noses” for about $4000 from bridge to tip.

That year was my real initiation into the world of “beauty.” Or shall I say, “manufacturing beauty” from natural beauty. Make-up, hair, shaving (thank goodness we didn’t know much about waxing during the preteen years), tanning, “good jeans” and plastic surgery—it became apparent that play clothes and a little dirt on my face was no longer going to cut it. Admittedly, I had been a bit of a tomboy—having 2 older brothers who I wanted desperately to be like (I was convinced that I only wanted to wear pants– no skirts!)—and a tomboy wasn’t the best thing to be once you entered middle school.

We got a bit ridiculous. We’d put on our mother’s make-up and dress up like Madonna (remember those mesh ti-shirts and the lace bow in the hair?). We actually thought we looked good. We’d spend hours looking in the mirror counting pimples, pinching non-existent blubber and investigating “flaws” to complain about. We bought trinkets and bobbles and fluorescent purses (mine was pink). And we prayed that we’d grow up sooner so we drive a car, go where we wanted, and spend our own money.

I remember saving up to buy at least 50 of those rubber bracelets (my favorite was the pink “gummy one)—yes, I realize they were simply car parts and vacuum cleaner components now—but we all wanted them. I even remember my friends and myself painting ourselves with baby oil and literally lying down on tin foil to get that “natural glow.” Years later I realized that I could use the same procedure to bronze shrimp.

As bad as we were, it’s got to be worse these days. How much do girls and women spend on all those products that promise “more beauty than we could ever be born with?”

It turns out, probably more than we care to know. The YMCA released a report on the Consequences of America’s Beauty Obsession on Women and Girls to illustrate that we’ve been buying into a “Beauty at Any Costphilosophy.

Wealth pays a price:

  1. 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedure in 2007
  2. A survey of young people showed that 69% of responders, 18 or older, are in favor of cosmetic surgery.
  3. ¼ of cosmetic surgery was performed on women of color, up 13% from the previous year.
  4. Workers with “below average looks tended to earn about 9% less money than those with “above average” looks

Beauty or brains?

One full year of college tuition and fees at a public instate college is $6,185. Five years of beauty products costs $6,423

Health pays a price:

  1. 67% of women (excluding those with bulimia or anorexia) are trying to lose weight
  2. 53% of dieters are already at a healthy weight
  3. 37% of women are concerned about what they’re eating
  4. 13% of women actually smoke in order to lose weight!
  5. Smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer deaths in the US
  6. 40% of newly-diagnosed cases of eating disorders are in girls only 15-19 years old. Symptoms can start as early as kindergarten.
  7. Over ½ of teen girls engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors such as fasting, skipping meals, smoking, and taking laxative

What’s the real cost of all that stuff we put on our faces?

Several ingredients found in US cosmetics have been linked to damage to the liver and reproductive system in animals. Europe has banned these ingredients. The US has not. In fact, in Europe, substances that can be used currently in the US have been called “carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction and should be prohibited from use in cosmetic products.” –European Union Cosmetics Directive, 2003

Happiness Pays a Price

  1. Studies have found that girls who watch TV commercials with underweight models in them lost self confidence and were dissatisfied with their own bodies.
  2. Sexualization of girls have been linked with eating disorders, low self esteem, and depression.
  3. Aggressive bullying between girls has been on the rise since the 1990s.
  4. Relational aggression, a form of bullying, is related to their roles in culture. Women want to be attractive and men want to have attractive partners.

In a study of women, 80% of interviewed participants said that they competed with other women over physical appearance. These women are driven by an unhealthy belief that winning the looks competition will somehow gain them a husband, “the” career, or the self they desire.

So folks, should we dare to think about it? How much are we shelling out for beauty? How much are our girls—many of whom are going back to school—going to spend on “the right” clothes, make-up, hair, weight loss and skin to ensure that they look “their best?” And how is it that we’ve all been fooled to believe that “our best” means slathering ourselves with manufactured, unnatural products that are made in a factory?

So much for telling children and teens to just be themselves.

Please comment below. We’re really interested in what you have to say.

pics form Jupiter Images


No Wonder Girls Are Confused: Body Image and Jennifer Love Hewitt

Why Girls are Confused…again: Body Size Messages

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

We know we’re constantly bombarded with photos indirectly suggesting to women and girls that “thin is in and thin is beautiful (and fat is NOT).” Messages accompany these photos that tell us 51 ways to lose weight, tone up, get rid of cellulite, and be attractive. No wonder why so many girls (and boys) suffer from poor body image, eating disorders, scary eating practices, too much pressure, and low self confidence.

We’re always thrilled to see examples of positive role models and celebrities telling us that it’s all a bunch of phony baloney and yet, they’re often smooshed between the one celebrity who has lost another 14 pounds and another top model’s diet plan.

Of course we still try to tell girls and women that they are beautiful the way they are…which can be confusing given the overwhelming proof otherwise.

Well, here’s just one more reason why our girls (and their Mothers) can get confused:

On the beach as compared to her Hanes Ad

On the beach as compared to her Hanes Ad

(1) Jennifer Love Hewitt made quite a statement on behalf of curvy women everywhere last December when she was criticized for her “Oh So NOT size 0 body” while away celebrating with her fiancé in Hawaii. She was a size 2. Yes, that’s right…very “fat.”

“This is the last time I will address this subject. “I’ve sat by in silence for a long time now about the way women’s bodies are constantly scrutinized. “To set the record straight, I’m not upset for me, but for all of the girls out there that are struggling with their body image. “A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be. And being a size 0 doesn’t make you beautiful. I know what I look like, and so do my friends and family. “And like all women out there should, I love my body.”To all girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist, put on a bikini – put it on and stay strong

However, what was the headline on the latest Us Weekly?

Jennifer Love Hewitt Exclusive: Her Exact Diet and Workout Plan 18 Pounds in Ten Weeks!

Hmmmm. This is definitely NOT the same message, is it?

Message 1 says: People are critical of girls who are not a size 0, even if they’re just a size 2. If you put on any weight at all, people will take pictures of you, make fun of you, talk about you, and criticize your self control and appearance. But Jennifer Love Hewitt is lashing out and telling these nasty people what she thinks of them…so girls who deviate from the perceived “ideal” size 0 are OK but…

Message #2 says: Not so fast. Maybe a size 2 was too big? If a size 2 woman “needs to” lose 18 pounds…how much do other girls and women need to lose? Do I need lipo?

Us Weekly "Weight Winner" feels great now that she

Us Weekly "Weight Winner" feels great now that she's lost 18 pounds off her 5'3" frame despite having said that she didn't need to lose weight in December

Folks, please use this story as a jumping off point to talk about body image and body confidence with any children, teens, or young adults you love. In addition, in order to keep them from getting confused:

  1. Ensure them that people come in all shapes and sizes: What’s important is that we make healthy choices, not that we’re a size 0.

  2. Don’t allow the media to tell you or your family what they’re supposed to look like: Help your children redefine attractiveness in your home. Expose them to role models of all shapes and sizes.

  3. Regulate the media that enters your home: Turn on the TV, open a magazine, put connect to the internet , your family will be bombarded with images of impossible thin girls and women. Filter some of the negative stuff out as best you can and be sure to talk about what you see when it finds it’s way into your living room. It’s not about “blocking” everything out but rather, teaching your children how to process the information responsibly and with perspective.

  4. Stop the comparisons with thin celebs: What you and your family sees on TV or in the magazines is not the “real world” and often is simply…”not real.” To compare your body type and size with Paris Hilton is about as scientific as comparing it with Strawberry Shortcake.

  5. Convey your values and pump up their body-loving activities: Be sure that your children know your that your values have more to do with respect, tolerance, gratitude, and citizenship than surface looks and liposuction. Surround your children with like-minded individuals and have them engage in activities that help them see the fun of moving a healthy body not obsessing with how it looks in a pair of jeans.

  6. Walk Your Bosy Positive Talk: As parents, we can’t just talk about the importance of a healthy body image, we must have on ourselves. Catch yourself when you start to berate your own body or make comments about your spouse or friends. Your children are listening and always affected by how you perceive yourself and your body.

    Have a Powerful Weekend!

Can Dropping Acid Increase Girls’ Self Esteem? Selma Blair Wants to Give It a Try

Can Dropping Acid Can Help Girls Feel Good About Themselves? Selma Blair has the Answer

and…everything you want to know about LSD

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Well folks, it looks I could be out of work—I mean, who needs a body image expert to help teens when all we need is to tell girls to take some acid to feel better about themselves? Selma Blair, star of Hellboy, cracked the code with the help of filmmaker, Guillermo Del Toro.

Selma Blair has admitted in the past that the only thing she likes about her body is her hands. Giillermo Del Toro suggested some acid would do the trick! Yes, of course it may make her well-loved hands look like enormous oven mitts, but Selma believes it’s worth a try.

“You know what Guillermo thinks? That I should go to Amsterdam and take an acid trip and it would fix my head. I think he could be right you know. You know, I’ve done some things to excess but I hate pot and I’ve never done acid or ecstasy. But if I was in the right frame of mind, in a pleasant, creative, chilled-out space, with just the right amount delivered by an Amsterdam technician, that would be incredible.”

So what does Selma Blair say about the future? It looks bright!

“I’ll be happy and say something nice about myself for a change, I’ll have gone to Amsterdam, done acid, done some amazing theatre in London. Beautiful!

Just for the record:

What’s acid?

Full Name: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

Characteristics: LSD is a semi-synthetic drug made of lysergic acid. It has no color, taste, or odor. It’s a crystalline substance that is soluble in water or alcohol. It comes in different forms such as blotter paper, microdots, capsules, and gel sheets.

Type of Drug: Hallucinogen; which means that it distorts the user’s sense of reality. The user sees images, hears sounds, and perceives sensations that aren’t really in existence.

How is it usually taken? LSD is usually taken by ingesting small tabs of paper, often placed under the tongue but can also be taken as a liquid, gelatin, or tablet. Sometimes it’s soaked into a sugar cube.

Why it looks so attractive to kids and teens: LSD tabs are often decorated with colorful kid-friendly designs and cartoon characters….yes, seriously.

Other names: Acid, microdot, tabs, doses, trips, hits, sugar cubes.

Effects: Elevated body temperature and blood pressure, suppressed appetite, sleeplessness, tremors, increased heart rate, nausea, chills, irregular breathing patterns, changes in perception of light, sound, touch, smell, and time, chronic recurring hallucinations and extreme changes in behavior

Risks: The most common dangers of LSD result from bad trips, including terrifying thoughts and feelings, despair, fear of losing control, and fear of death. These problems are especially common and severe in people with underlying mental problems like severe depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disease. Some fatal accidents have also occurred among users who could not perceive the reality of their situation.

How long do the effects last? 30 minutes- 12 hours. It can be diffucult to sleep if LSD has been taken in the last 6 hours.

What does this have to do with self-esteem? LSD causes an inflation of the ego which, at least in Selma Blair’s eyes, may be an effective antidote for low self-esteem.

Yes, sometimes famous people say really stupid things. And yes, it’s LSD is illegal.

Keira Knightley Says No To Digital Breast Enhancement

Is anyone “Perfect” enough? Kiera Knightley says no to digital enhancement

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Keira Knightley has been pegged as a waifish “it” girl for her lean body and beautiful face. But even she has had to deal with people wanting to enhance her photos by changing her A-cup breasts to C-cups. She doesn’t feel that she needs cleavage to be sexy and has insisted that she be portrayed as she is despite the desires of those in charge of publicity for her new film, “Dutchess.”

‘She has insisted that her figure stay in its natural state,’ says a source.

‘She is proud of her body and doesn’t want it altered.’

We all must remember when Kate Winslet balked at her slim-down on GQs cover—claiming that they must have reduced her thighs by a third. She has refused later involvement with airbrushing and makes certain that others know it.

It’s rumored that every star—from Nicole Kidman to Mariah Carey gets the same treatment—thinned out, puffed up, brightened, buffed and shined (or made unshiny, as the case may be). I mean, is it really that bad to have pores? And aren’t we airbrushing them to the point that they barely look like themselves? I mean, let’s take a look at this shot of soulful singer, Diana Ross, 60, who is advertising MAC make-up– but maybe should simply be advertising the art of photo-shopping and retouching. MAC make-up may be good– but is it…that good?


Pictures: PA/MAC

I sometimes wonder what these celebrities think when they look at themselves on the covers of these magazines or on the posters promoting their movies. They know they don’t look like that. Do they wonder if they’ll ever be “good enough,” just like many of us do? Do they say to themselves; “I guess the real thing must look pretty bad for them to have to change my appearance this much!”

And if the most “perfect” seeming women are having parts erased, re-engineered, or reworked through the magic of photoshop, what are we really striving for? What is perfect? All our girls look at these magazines and say to themselves, “I want to look like her,” and yet, that person doesn’t exist.

In the following video, the photo retoucher says;

“When you talk about Hollywood types…they have personal retouchers that do this all day long. Not one picture is released without their permission. It’s just the way they want to be viewed by the world. They want to have this perfection…which isn’t possible.”

Many scoff and laugh when they see “real” photos of celebrities on the pages of gossip magazines. Pictures with highlighted cellulite, wrinkles, and bulges in all the “wrong” places?

Some celebrities are known to embrace their “flaws.” Are they really flaws—I mean, don’t we all have this stuff..which would make it…shall I say, normal? And without it, might I say, would actually be a flaw? But I digress.

“I am covered in stretch marks and celllulite but it doesn’t bother me at all. My body will never be the same again but I really don’t care,” Reese Witherspoon; New! Magazine.

“We all have cellulite. So do supermodels! I’ve been to the shows, and I go, ‘Stick figure has some cellulite!’ It’s nature. Without it, you’re not human.” Sandra Bullock, InStyle

So, where are we with all of this? Have the media gone too far with photo-shopping and retouching? Or, are we the culprits—always looking for perfection? If people didn’t laugh, point, or gossip when we saw real celebrity bodies on magazine covers, would we all be in a different place on this topic?

Your thoughts are welcome!