This article frightens me terribly. "By conservative estimates, 50% of South Korean women in their 20s have had some form of cosmetic surgery." And what percentage will have had cosmetic surgery by the time they're older? "A woman's magazine recently advised its readers to spend 30% of their incomes on looking good." Um, I tried really hard to think of every cent I ever spend that could possibly be classified as even vaguely appearance-related. Here's what I came up with.
I have nightmarishly awful dandruff that can only be stopped from disintegrating my entire scalp by the use of the most expensive shampoo ever - I think they must manufacture my shampoo out of liquid gold or something. So, each bottle of shampoo costs me $15. I don't think I use up nearly one bottle per month, but for the sake of being very sure not to underestimate, let's say that I do.
I do not own a comb or a brush or a razor or makeup, so I spend no money on any of those things. (My hair doesn't react well to combs and brushes - all they do is split all the ends and fill it with static electricity. It looks much better if I just detangle it with my fingers whenever it needs detangling.)
I spend money on acne-control products. I used to spend more than I do now, back when my acne was worse, although back then my dandruff was still able to be controlled by a shampoo only half as outrageously expensive, so the total amount of money spent on skin and hair care was very similar. These days I use a lot of hydrogen peroxide on my skin, which is very cheap so at most it costs me perhaps $5 per month. I also buy occasional astringents and other antibacterial products, totalling perhaps another $5 per month. In the past three years I've developed a mild case of chronic psoriasis on my cheeks (this is essentially "dandruff of the face" and stands as further proof of just how bad my dandruff problem is), so now the only way to prevent my cheeks from developing painfully dry, cracked, rock-hard scales is to spend money on medications for that. Aloe Vera is the only thing I've found that seems to help. Aloe Vera is cheap and lasts a really long time, so the amount I spend on it is quite negligible, but I also spend more money on lip balms for my chronically chapped lips, so let's say my total expenditure for lip balms and Aloe Vera combined is around $5 per month.
I have inherited a susceptibility to canker sores, in which my immune system goes crazy and starts attacking random spots on my tongue or the insides of my cheeks as though they were invading aliens. (Canker sores happen more often to women than to men because female hormones area major contributing cause of them, but both of my parents have them, not just my mother, so I think I inherited a more severe susceptibility to them than most women have to cope with.) Unfortunately my immune system is very effective indeed at killing off my tongue. Anyway, there's an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate in most toothpastes that tends to severely aggravate canker sores, and the only toothpaste on the market that I know of that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate is an outrageously expensive form of Rembrandt toothpaste marketed "especially for canker sore sufferers." This costs me $7 per tube. For the sake of simplicity, let's say I use one tube of toothpaste per month, and let's say I might spend another up to $2 or so per month on toothbrushes and dental floss and the like.
The only brand of deodorant that I'm not allergic to is Suave. It costs about $4 per stick. How many sticks of deodorant can one use in a month? In the interest of erring on the side of overestimating again, let's imagine I use two.
It is a rare month that I buy any clothes at all, but again for the purpose of begin very sure not to underestimate, let's imagine I spend as much as $40 per month on clothes (including shoes, hair ties, purses, sewing machines, thread, and other things that one might not at first think of to count as "clothes").
I believe that's all of my expenses that have any impact whatsoever upon my physical appearance. A maximum of $15 shampoo + $10 acne care + $5 psoriasis/dry skin care +
$7 toothpaste + $2 other dental products + $8 deodorant + $40 clothes = a maximum of $87 per month spent on appearance-related items. This adds up to barely 5% of my net salary (after taxes) at my old job, and only a bit over 3% of my net salary at my new job. In order for $87 per month to constitute the 30% of my salary that this Korean magazine recommended, I would have to earn only $290 per month, which would add up to $3,480 per year annual salary, or $1.67 per hour if working a 40-hour work week.
In order to spend 30% of even a $12,000 per year annual salary on appearance-related items, one would have to spend $300 per month, every single month. WHO THE HELL SPENDS $300 PER MONTH ON THEIR APPEARANCE???? What can you even buy that would cost that much? A whole lot of plastic surgery, I guess. Because it just makes so much sense for a society to define attractiveness in such a way that one has to spend 30% of their income on painful surgeries to achieve it.