What Do We Really Need?
May 13, 2017

Is Beauty Expensive?

Beauty is all around us. It is present in nature and is often enjoyed at the beach, in the mountains, or on a golf course. Some people say they enjoy the beauty of golf course settings more than playing the game. Beauty can be found in solitude, with the opportunity to connect with oneself without distractions. Also, most people think of their infants and children as beautiful, even if that impression is not shared by others! Additionally, most people would say that the Wonders of the World are beautiful. These are all examples of beauty that most or at least many people would agree on. It becomes more complicated when we talk about the beauty of things, or stuff.

Beauty can be found in things, although our definition of things that are beautiful probably varies more than the other examples of beauty. An example of this is the different opinions about design and decorating. While some prefer contemporary furnishings, others prefer period English or French design, and those preferences determine the perception of beauty.  Some people prefer clean and minimalistic décor, while other find this style far from beautiful.

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Is beauty expensive? Yes and no. There is no cost at all to take advantage of much of the beauty found in nature. The same is true for the beauty found in solitude. Considering the cost of raising a child, the case can be made that the beauty found in children is quite expensive! But that refers to the broader context, not the beauty of an angelic face.

Whether beauty of things is expensive is somewhat more complicated. Since people differ in the perception of the beauty of things, it makes sense that there is great variety in the cost of those things. An original painting of one of the masters would be quite expensive, while a copy not necessarily so. And of course, what one determines as expensive also varies and is tied to one’s socioeconomic status.

What is the relationship between money and beauty? I googled the question, “What is the correlation between beauty and money?” I was surprised with the results. The focus of my question was the connection between the cost of items considered beautiful. Most of the google writings were focused on a woman’s beauty, basically stating that beautiful women marry better and are happier. One study found this true for both men and women. Interesting, but not quite relevant to my focus. Or maybe it is, for it seems that beautiful women are quite expensive!

Perhaps a better question is the correlation between quality and cost, and their relationship to beauty. Are items that cost more of better quality? Are they more beautiful?

The cosmetics industry is a good place to dig deeper into this question of cost, quality, and beauty. Certainly, the more expensive the item, the more cost is involved in its packaging.  I believe this is also true about its aesthetic qualities. While these differences may result in the item being more beautiful and more desirable to those who can afford it, that cost does not necessarily equate to the quality of the product. I recall an article written by a woman who lost her fortune and her retirement in the Bernie Madoff scheme. She listed designer cosmetics as one thing she could no longer afford that she missed the most. No mention was made of the difference in quality of the products she had used and was now using. Perhaps the difference is more in perception and habit than quality.

I will leave cosmetics behind in this discussion, since I cannot substantiate a relationship between quality and cost in those products, although I imagine this has been an area of research. I will use the example of clothes to consider this further.

There does seem to be a relationship between quality and cost in apparel, although not at the upper ends of fashion. With the most expensive clothing, the quality can be assumed, and the differentiator is fashion. On the other end of the clothing spectrum is what is now called “Fast Fashion,” where the garments are not expected to last past several wearings. So, quality related to durability is lacking, but fashion is present, and the cost of the fashion is less.  Does this mean that there is a connection between quality and cost? I suppose your answer to that question is determined, at least in part, to your level of purchasing power, as well as your perception of these variables.

Which brings us back to the question, is there a connection between cost, quality, and beauty?  It seems that the most accurate answer to this question is, “It depends!”

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