Does Vanity Keep You Poor?

Molly Faulker-Bond, the author of Why Vanity Keeps You Poor, puts forth the idea that women spend so much on beauty products and treatments that we leave ourselves in the dust behind men financially. According to this article, U.S. women spend between $12,000 and $15,000 each year on beauty and maintenance. (The link from her article no longer lands directly on the source of that number, so I am not sure where it came from.)

No doubt women spend too damn much on frivolous and basically gratuitous luxuries that can in no way be deemed necessities. I am guilty of it at times, purchasing yet another pink lipstick or splurging on an experimental hair color.

However, where I part ways with Ms. Faulkner-Bond is the assumption that this is strictly a female behavior. Who has ever gone grocery shopping with a member of the male persuasion of any age? Can it be denied that they are flagrant wasters of money? How much higher is your cart piled when you shop with a male who “must” have sugary cereal, this, that, some of that…I rest my case. Fast forward to video games, fishing gear, nerd props (can you say Star Trek?), or hell, beer. Yes, all of these are based on rampant stereotypes, but so is the concept that all women mindlessly shell out major bucks for highlights and pedicures.

Let’s remember that women typically do not make a comparable salary as men, simply by being women (one source of many: The Wage Gap, by Gender and Race). Perhaps unfairly starting behind the eight ball is a more significant factor than we care to acknowledge.

I have a retirement account, a savings account, and I draw the line on what I will spend on beauty items. I recognize them as fun but not by any means necessary. Apparently this makes me a bit of an oddball for a woman, according to this article. How about you?

The average American household carries $8000 in credit card debt (source: Money Central). Clearly, neither men nor women should be proudly boasting about their spending habits. I agree that far too much emphasis, downright phobic and manic, is placed on women’s appearance, and that priority needs to shift. However, the claim that women simply can’t manage money is far too simplistic for me, and doesn’t address the real underlying problems: devaluing women for anything but looks, and consumerism, to name only two.

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