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Dove Social media and body image

The Real Cost of Beauty Ideals: The Stats

New research from Dove reveals appearance hate and discrimination caused by toxic beauty standards costs Americans more than $500 billion per year – and young people pay the biggest price.

Discover the real cost of body dissatisfaction and appearance-based discrimination in the ‘Real Cost of Beaty Ideals’, a groundbreaking new report from Dove.* And learn why we must end appearance hate together.

What is the cost of body dissatisfaction?

$84 billion

The annual economic cost of body dissatisfaction.*

$221 billion

The annual well-being cost of body dissatisfaction.*

+45 million

16% of people in the US experience body dissatisfaction yearly.*

Total: $305 billion

First, let’s define body dissatisfaction. It means having a severe or persistent negative attitude towards your physical appearance, which can be caused by the toxic beauty standards that are prevalent on social media and in all of society. Our report estimates that 16% of people in the US aged 10 or older were severely affected by body dissatisfaction in 2019, with Black women suffering most when it comes to low body confidence.*

Annually, body dissatisfaction costs the economy $305 billion – and it’s women and girls who pay 58% of that cost at $177 billion.* But that’s not all. While our research shows there are huge societal and economic costs to the health system, employers, families and most of all individuals, the cost of people’s well-being is almost 3x that at $221 billion.* This figure is the price of depression, anxiety, smoking, eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide.*

Tragically, our report proves that body dissatisfaction doesn’t just disproportionately cost women and girls their health and happiness – it can also cost them their lives.

Dove EndBodyHate Now


What is the cost of appearance-based discrimination?

$269 billion 

The annual economic cost of appearance-based discrimination.*

$233 billion 

The annual well-being cost of appearance-based discrimination.*

+66 million

18% of people in the US experience appearance-based discrimination yearly.*

Total: $501 billion

Appearance-based discrimination is the unjust, prejudicial treatment of somebody purely on the basis of their appearance. And this discrimination can come in many forms, including discrimination against weight and skin tone. Annually, it costs the US economy $501 billion and, again, it’s women and girls who pay the highest price at $317 billion – the equivalent to 1.3% of US GDP in 2019.*

Our report shows that weight discrimination affects 34 million people across the US and costs $206 billion every year, while skin shade discrimination affects 27 million and costs $63 billion.* There is also natural hair discrimination which affects 5 million people, with Black women being 3.4x more likely to be viewed as ‘unprofessional’ because of their hair compared to non-Black women.**

In 2019, 18% of the US population experienced appearance-based discrimination, which increases their risk of poor health care, depression, anxiety, obesity, incarceration, drug abuse and premature mortality.*

When almost 1 in 5 people suffer from discrimination caused by toxic beauty standards and ideals, we need to demand change. Because together, we have the power to make beauty a positive experience for everybody.

How can I help end appearance hate?

The Dove Self-Esteem Project is working alongside likeminded people, experts and organizations to combat the influences that lead to body dissatisfaction and appearance-based discrimination – including a lack of anti-discrimination statutes and appearance bias training, digital distortion on social media, and the need for more appearance diversity in the advertising and beauty industries. But we cannot reverse the devastating cost of toxic beauty standards alone.

Download the full Real Cost of Beauty Ideals Report. And join our mission today to help end appearance hate for good.

*Discover the real cost of body dissatisfaction and appearance-based discrimination in The Real Cost of Beauty Ideals Report - a study conducted by Dove, in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics, and researchers from the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders: A Public Health Incubator (STRIPED) at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Together we can end appearance hate.

**Dove CROWN Research Study, 2019. Based on research identifying the magnitude of racial discrimination experienced by women in the workplace. Statistic not included in annual costs due to appearance-based discrimination.

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