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Dove: Beauty Standards Cost Economy $501 Billion

A new report from the mass-market giant outlines the cost of beauty standards on the U.S. economy.

A new report from Dove has quantified beauty ideals’ weight on the economy, to the tune of $806 billion.

According to the report, released Tuesday, appearance-based discrimination (an umbrella term for skin shade and body size) cost the U.S. $501 billion in 2019, and body dissatisfaction set the economy back $305 billion during the same time period. They each affect a respective 66 million and 45 million individuals.

Dove relied on S. Bryn Austin, a researcher at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as a team of economists from Deloitte Access Economics.

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The report detailed a $501 billion cost to the economy as a direct result of appearance-based discrimination, $269 billion of that coming from economic costs like health outcomes, labor market outcomes or other life outcomes. The remaining $233 billion was a result of anxiety, depression, drug abuse, smoking and hypertension. Women and girls accounted for 63 percent of those costs, despite only making up 51 percent of the population.

Weight discrimination and skin shade discrimination tallied $206 billion and $63 billion, respectively. Natural hair discrimination — which the brand is aiming to outlaw via the CROWN Act, now law in 19 states — touched 5 million people, per the report.

Body dissatisfaction (as defined as, “a severe and persistent negative attitude toward one’s own physical appearance,”) accounted for $84 billion in the health system, productivity, government, employer, family, individual and societal costs. Loss of well-being, as described as depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, smoking, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse, set the economy back $221 billion. Women and girls comprised 58 percent of those costs.