The True Cost of Looking Good

Thursday 22 August 2013

How much of our lives are we spending on looking good?

Well, according to this news article, 244 days of our lifetimes and £166,495 on average!

That is an awful lot of time spent preening, and some might question whether it’s the best use of just shy of a year. But I think people often grossly underestimate the importance physical appearance plays in our lives, even if we don’t want to admit it.

Due to the way the human brain is structured, and the way its set up to process large volumes of information and interpret that quickly, not taking care of your looks can cost you dearly.

However evolved and enlightened we like to think we are, there are instinctive, animal parts of the brain that still associate beauty with virtue. Studies have shown that women who tend to their appearance are more likely to be promoted at work and even to be given a lighter sentence in a court of law, not to mention all the innumerable small forms of preferential treatment you can amass during a day.

And although most intelligent women would protest that they don’t use their looks to get ahead, who can honestly say they’ve never tried to bat a mascara’ed lash to get out of a parking ticket, or tugged down their neckline to get served first at the bar? Our appearances are intrinsically linked to who we are and how the world interacts with us, however much we’d all like to deny it. And the figures back this up:

On average over a lifetime, a woman will :

    Try 572 new hair and make-up styles
    Have 298 wardrobe overhauls
    Attempt an average of 1,503 exercise regimes and 228 new diets

What you will spend on average on ‘self-improvement’ in a lifetime:

    Under 25 -£165,607
    25-34 - £131,829
    35- 44 - £109,401
    45-54 - £93,109

It is encouraging to note that self-improvement hasn’t just been classed as image related here -  the figures above also include 17 days of training courses, and £5967 or 16 days learning new skills or broadening cultural horizons.

And geography also plays its part – women in the East Midlands (coincidentially, this is where I live), spend the most on self-improvement at an average of £150,660 followed by ladies in London £143,807, while the least spend goes to girls in the South West (trailing behind at an average of £75,466).

So what do you think? Is the investment in money and time worth it? Should we all be aiming for perfection or do we need to learn to relax and accept ourselves as we are?

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