The high cost of big beauty

Lauren Piro

The life of any college student is filled with visual stimulation designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Your eye catches a student’s glimmering blonde highlights against the autumn sunlight. She clutches a lavish leather bag in one hand and the arm of her broad-shouldered boyfriend in the other. The campus is a sea of technicolor flip flops and painted toes to match. Idle channel surfing during a rare break in the day brings more of the same: Toothpaste ad. Bowflex commercial. Woman on a fashion makeover show that has tattooed on her eyeliner… Um, ouch.

As mere members of the human race, we’ve heard it all before. The media forces upon us impossible standards of beauty as the pressure of our peers does the same, and suddenly males and females alike find themselves on the slippery slope that can only lead to eating disorders and cosmetic surgery horror stories … blah, blah, blah. Not that these aren’t serious issues – they are. But to go on about them would be like preaching to the choir. Everyone knows the tangled web of beauty into which we’ve been woven, and many enjoy being there. However, it never hurts to be reminded of the hits the mind, body and wallet take when it comes to the cost of being beautiful.

Digging Deep A quick perusal of any salon’s price list is the perfect starting point in analyzing the cost one pays for looking his or her “best.” A visit to a mid-line shop (not exactly Frederic Fekkai, but not SuperCuts either) can run you $30-$50 for a simple haircut, $30 more to add color, upwards of $20 for a manicure and anywhere from $10-$50 dollars for a wax, depending on the degree of hairlessness you’re aiming for. Tack on some makeup, skin care and all those beauty magazines that are directing you to the salon in the first place, and you’ve pretty much spent the wealth earned during your summer scooping ice cream. Girls may drool over the enticing packaging and pretty colors that grace the shelves of Sephora, but realize that it does indeed cost a pretty penny.”If you buy anything half-decent, it’s really expensive,” says freshman Erica Sciulli, recounting how a recent trip left her buying only a small tube of lip gloss.

Pressure on guys Girls aren’t the only ones feeling the expense of looking good. With the rise of the so-called “metrosexual” male, guys too know what it’s like to pay a price to be handsome. Cost adds up when you have a gym membership, hair products and muscle-man protein shakes to worry about (oh, but you’re not using that, right?).Junior Will Luciani, who describes himself as the “runner-up in the sexiest man alive contest,” knows how taxing holding that title can be. “Being good-looking is like a job,” he says, half-serious, half-joking. “You don’t get this way by being lazy. You have to go to the gym, drink water, watch what you eat. It’s time-expensive.”

Life-threatening costBringing up another good point, beauty can have more than just a monetary cost. The body takes a toll with the amount of stress a college student can inflict on it. Hair is fried from daily blow-drying, skin is left red from having the hair ripped out of it and toes become virtually deformed from hours in stilettos. Perhaps one of the most notorious beauty regiments popular with college students today is tanning. While that sun-kissed glow seems to be what everyone is attracted to, long-term effects have proven to be grave. Aside from speeding up the appearance of wrinkles or age spots, the American Cancer Society strongly warns about the dangers of skin cancer that have been linked with tanning beds or even just too much sun exposure. Its prediction of 59,940 new diagnoses of melanoma this year definitely puts tanning salons off the list for potential MasterCard commercials. Looking like you’ve spent a week at the beach? Priceless, seemingly. Sunburn, wrinkles and a life-threatening skin disease? Not so much.

Keeping up For many, being beautiful walks a fine line between happiness and confidence in the way one looks and too much stress from the pressure to keep up with ones appearance. Most try to follow a few simple strategies to keep themselves sane against others who may offer unneeded influence on one’s personal image.”I try to steer clear of those people,” says sophomore Michelle Altura, noting how she does what feels best for her when it come to her appearance.Sciulli agrees, saying how she doesn’t wear much makeup but is always sure to put on sunscreen. Tips like this seem to be the perfect way to find a balance in the beauty world. Sunscreen will keep your skin looking great and protect it from dangers down the road. Shopping places other than designer stores will save you money and allow you to buy unique pieces to express your own idea of beauty. Doing your own nails can be fun and a way to take a break during the day to do something nice for yourself. No one’s saying you can’t enjoy looking your best. Just save yourself some strain and some cash.Sophomore Emily Quadrino is happy with the balance she’s found when it comes to her appearance.”I don’t do this for other people; I do it for myself,” she says.