How the Current Economic Climate Affects Pretty Girls

Don't tell these girls that it's time to start saving. Their animal spirits are alive and well.

Keep singing your cheery song, pretty girls


Check out the next installment of Pretty Girls: Part II: How the Current Economic Climate Affects Pretty Girls

Real GDP has contracted 6.1% in the first quarter of 2009. Personal income is down 0.3% in the month of March. The national unemployment rate has climbed to 8.9% through April, a 1.3% increase since the beginning of the calendar year. During this tumultuous time, in an epic struggle to scrape by and preserve wealth, one question rings in our ears: how is the current economic climate affecting pretty girls? (1) (2)

For the purposes of this article, a “pretty girl” can be more clearly defined:

As it turns out, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One person is not beautiful to everyone, and each person finds many different features attractive. There is a difference between being beautiful and looking like the lead in a sexual fantasy. Beauty seems to encompass the energy and spirit of a person; even the best looking “head turners” can get unbearably unattractive once they open their mouth.

“Pretty girls” are the ones who seem to be converging at a manufactured image. You know, the image that’s been bombarding them on television, in print and the internet from day one of existence. Imitating this image, one they’ve been brainwashed into thinking men find attractive (or women if you like), brings the ultimate prize: attention, relations and relationships. Sadly, there is a need to differentiate between those last two. And perhaps these girls feel the pressure to compete amongst themselves for ultimate “prettiness” superiority.

It's getting very scary in here

It's getting very scary in here

The convergence to a manufactured body type, hair style, makeup philosophy, go-to clothing, tattoos, etc., is causing me a lot of problems. Namely, when I see a group of girls out in the world, I genuinely think I know them. Let’s set the record straight: I don’t. Eliminating reincarnation from the list of probable causes, it’s because girls at quick glance (or long, awkward and darting stare) increasingly look the same! I don’t know any of the girls standing in a group to be seated at a restaurant. But it seems like I should and it’s rather maddening. They all look just like the barista who served me my house coffee this morning and the girl my friend dated last summer. This effort to individualize through body art and style has really just funneled everyone into becoming a copy of one another. At a global level, this is acculturation and homogenization. Primarily since the “breakthrough” style ideas come from TV, magazines and the web.

Do men really find this “media” image of the perfect woman attractive? Some surely do, because they’re media-fed zombies as well. While the media affects everyone’s point of view on some level, you either feed the beast or veer away from it, by making discerning choices rooted in values and humanity. Not to mention reality. Most every image we see now is a fabrication: an airbrushed, Photo-shopped morsel of reality.

Unscientific surveys have been done, FHM and Fabulous magazines are two to have done such, to uncover the ideal female body type from both a man and woman’s perspective. These would be stated preferences, which are never as good as revealed preferences (through real actions), but are still interesting to look at. As behavioral economics shows us, what people say and what people actually do can be two very different things. Men were asked to choose amongst pictures of models in an online survey. The majority of men selected the size 12 model, compared to the size 8 model women felt was the ideal. Although only stated preferences, men don’t have too much incentive to lie, given it was an anonymous response from the basement of their parent’s house. Scientific studies regarding “preferred body type” have been conducted by Massey University as well, with similar results. (3) (4)

To reiterate, there’s a difference between what men are attracted to and what men may desire in a sexual fantasy, which are mostly trite, media-driven scenarios in and of themselves. If you want relations, in a sexual fantasy sort of way, go for the size 2 you see in Glamour. If you want a boyfriend, in a stable, committed relationship, probably head towards the healthy size 12, or what is right for your body.

The “pretty girl” has a serious undertaking on her hands to attain and maintain her status. Make no mistake, being a “pretty girl” comes at a huge price, monetary and otherwise. She must make semi-weekly visits to the tanning salon, or purchase fake tan products to apply liberally (we hope). She must keep up with her nails; pedicures and manicures are in order, and a healthy supply of nail polish colors a must. She’s obligated to gain access to magazines that will tell her the “100 Ways to Please Your Man.” If necessary, she’ll order a few subscriptions to be safe. Before too long, the hair must be dealt with. This could mean extensions, coloring, or a perm for you grandmas out there, in addition to the actual cut. And who gets a haircut anymore without a chilled cosmopolitan in hand, to take the edge off? “Pretty girls” know, as they peer into their closets packed with clothes and shoes, they just don’t have anything to wear. Multiple expenditures have been gracefully left off this list. Even so, when we start tallying up a working budget for such activities, the numbers are nothing to blink at. For even the thriftiest of “pretty girls”, we’re looking at a bare minimum of $250/month.

During tough economic times, when everyone inevitably tightens their belt (except the Federal government), what is a “pretty girl” supposed to do? She can choose a trip to Costco over tanning, but then her skin will no longer have that orange glow, a radiant light to be especially missed during the winter months. She may decide that it’s time to pursue health insurance, but how could she give up perfect toe nails with ladybug designs painted on? She may grow tired of her chin-length hair and long for extensions, but money needs to be allocated for the car service bill this month.

I would have expected many of these vanity-driven, superfluous expenses to be cast aside in our current economic climate. Beyond the contraction in the economy and personal income, the increased unemployment and the disappearance of stock and real estate wealth, I thought people would want to begin accumulating a savings account for the future. But I still see just as many “pretty girls” out and about. They’re either cutting costs and it’s not impacting their appearance, or they’re electing to continue shelling out the dough for “pretty girl” upkeep. What’s even more likely is the last of their available credit is being used to pay for these expenditures. This falls in line with my prediction that the next two major areas of the economy to crumble will be: 1) credit card companies who loaned money to consumers who won’t be able to make good, and 2) commercial real estate.

Who wouldn't live in this bad boy down by the river?

Who wouldn't live in this bad boy down by the river?

For those not exhausting their available credit, the women still spending hundreds of dollars a month for “pretty girl” activities must be doing so at the sacrifice of basic needs. Are “pretty girls” living in tents down by the river? Are they showing up in soup lines Saturday mornings?

One thing is for sure: I saw one earlier today and I recognized her…falsely.


Check out the next installment of Pretty Girls: Part II: How the Current Economic Climate Affects Pretty Girls

(1) Bureau of Economic Analysis Data

(2) Bureau of Labor Statistics

(3) The Perfect Body

(4) Fabulous Body Survey 2008: The Results


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  • Stevi

    I saw a pack (herd, maybe) of pretty girls carrying little dogs and starbucks yesterday and laughed at how they all seem to be characters rather than real people. I do enjoy reading about these ‘characters’ and to see what sort of creature is made out of pure media influence. I would love to see more articles on these ‘pretty girls’ maybe about their other other money options or last resorts such as credit card debt or jobs at hooters.
    I loved this article!

  • Georgie

    What this article fails to notice is that the “pretty girl” has way more on her mind than what the male thinks, or what anyone thinks. It’s something a girl does for herself. Being pretty, yes, it is pushed on girls from the second they enter school to the second they’re put in a casket. Being pretty makes a girl feel good about herself. Whether anyone else thinks she’s pretty or not, it’s the fact that a girl accepts herself. When you see an “ugly girl” sometimes you notice that she thinks she’s beautiful even when it’s apparent that she isn’t. It’s all about perception of ones self. If you feel pretty, then you usually are. There’s nothing wrong with that, we don’t do it for the men or women if you prefer, we do it for the cause and for ourselves.

  • chester

    Just a quick note regarding your comparison of Size 2 vs Size 12.

    The studies mentioned were based on different clothing size standards. So, the 12 is actually a UK/NZ 12, which is equivalent to a US size 10. The US size 2 is UK size 4. So for a US based readership, the comparison should be size 2 and size 10.

    Regarding men’s preference for UK size 12/US size 10, that’s exactly where “Perfect 10″ comes from. It’s no surprise men like it.

  • teagan pedersen

    hey guys add me on facebook Teagan Pedersen or email me

  • mehr

    This is very nice.

  • adam

    Well. for starters I found none of the above to be pretty at all. Lame is the term I would use. Give me a full figured girl with curves that would make a Ferrari cry in shame and a pretty face anytime! I am not about dress size or weight or socioeconomic demographic to decide if girl is attractive. A lot of modern life is all about how Dolly or Cleo says your supposed to look in the way of the advertisers who love Photoshop, pay the magazine to portray. I use Photoshop as a hobby and can give my 7 yr old muscels to make most blokes envious.
    Get over it. Having being teased my entire school life as being this or that has made me a very strong and persistant person who now walks all over you ‘beautiful’ people.

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