When Ashton Garrison was just seven years old, she asked her mom for liposuction.
She recalls being gifted waist trainers and even buying some herself – all before she even started high school.
And she also remembers the impact of seeing ads about weight loss products in her social media feed.
“I would cry to myself wondering why I couldn’t just take a pair of scissors and cut away my fat,” Garrison says.
Now, at age 14, Garrison can identify that harmful beauty ideals, like associating beauty with thin, white girls for example, were introduced to her in movies, magazines and television shows.
Her peers, who learned the same standards, bullied her for her size and treated her differently because of her coarser hair texture and darker complexion.
Garrison, like many Americans, suffered the mental health effects of not feeling good enough and turned to products like shapewear for recourse.
“I used to wear a waist trainer all the time, and I don’t anymore,” she says.
Thankfully, present-day, she is much more accepting of herself, but the same cannot be said for many in the U.S.
The cost of harmful beauty standards
Beauty standards cost Americans over $300 billion in 2019, according to Dove’s “The Real Cost of Beauty Ideals” report.
This number includes costs for treatments like skin bleaching and chemical hair straightening.
Dove commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to compile the report that dives into the economic and social cost of unhealthy beauty standards on Americans ages 10 and older.
Unhealthy beauty ideals, as defined by the report, are beauty norms that are narrow and unrealistic.
They’re typically only reflective of white standards and lack diversity of all sizes, ages, skin shades, hair types and body shapes.
“It [the report] estimates the number of people who were affected by body dissatisfaction and appearance-based discrimination, and then we look at all the impacts,” says Simone Cheung, partner at Deloitte Access Economics who leads the Health Economics and Social Policy team in Sydney, Australia.
“Then, what we do is, [we estimate] the costs of each of those impacts individually.”
According to the report, 16% of the U.S. population aged 10 years or older – 45 million people – experienced body dissatisfaction.
And across the board, women bore the highest financial costs of body dissatisfaction and appearance-based discrimination.
“Body dissatisfaction really gets to the core of how …….