The stereotype has almost become conventional wisdom: women spend more than men on beauty. Indeed, who has not heard that women spend more on haircuts, on cosmetics, on body care, and on clothes? Statistically, this preconceived idea seems to hold. You ought to know, however, that this gender gap is slowly closing…and here is why.
The Quest For Beauty Is Not The Monopoly Of Women … Anymore
Last year, 2,000 British women were polled about their cosmetic expenses. The conclusions produced by the study were unbelievable: over the course of their life, British women are bound to spend around 100,000 pounds on make up! This is a whole lot of money; no one would disagree with that.
But what people don’t know is that in 2009 alone, American men spent close to 5 billion dollars on grooming products, up 50% from the 1997 figure. As far as British men are concerned, they apparently spent 66% more money on beauty treatments in 2011 than in 2010: 30% of men in the UK currently go for hair removal, 18% for nail care, and 17% for tanning!
The same comparison can be made with plastic surgery: while women still account for the vast majority of these medical interventions, the percentage occupied by men has not ceased to grow over the past years. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, men underwent 9% of all procedures in 2010, up 2% from the previous year.
The popularity of some types of intervention is actually growing more rapidly among men than women in the United States: eyelid surgery, liposuction, and soft-tissue fillers are increasing at a faster pace for men, and it should also be noted that hair transplantation, which is essentially practiced on men, was performed 13,000 times in 2010.
A Similar Trend in Clothing
The above seems to provide evidence that a sense of self-consciousness is rapidly growing among men. A survey by Superdrug seems to support this idea as it shows that British men spend 83 minutes a day on personal grooming, while women spend 79! Peter Baker, chief executive of the Men’s Health Forum, even said that there is an increasing feeling of anxiety about men’s body image that is in part due to magazines’ depictions of the perfect man. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
There is another key element which further supports this thesis: men’s clothing statistics exploded last year in the United States as sales grew faster than in the women’s clothing business! Indeed, men’s clothing sales rose 4% in comparison with a rise of 3% on the women’s side. Even though it is undeniable that women still spend more – in absolute terms – then men on garments such as coats, shoes, tops, and the likes, men seem to be slowly catching up.
It is not only that men bought more t-shirts than women in 2011. They also spent considerable amounts of money buying dress clothes, showing that they care about the image they project. Maybe men are just starting to experience a little bit of what women feel. But it should neither be taken for granted that men are exposed to a level of body image-related anxiety similar to that of women, nor that they are anywhere close to spending the same amount of money on beauty than women.
The gap may slowly be diminishing, but it seems quite clear that women are still overrepresented in cosmetics sales, beauty treatments, and plastic surgeries. Similarly, if men’s expenses on clothes in 2011 grew faster than women’s in terms of percentage, the same rationale does not hold in terms of dollars. The 2006-2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey showed that men spent $304 on clothes in 2010, while women spent $562. Since sales rose 4% for men in 2011, it means that they spent about $12 more on average; the 3% rise in women’s sales, however, equals $17 more!
Photos Are From The Microsoft Office Clip Art Collection
Guest Author Bio
Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger.
He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.