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In My Opinion: Market Smart to Special Needs

By: Nadine Vogel
Posted: May 3, 2007, from the May 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.
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Would it surprise you to learn that 20% of our adult population reports having a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau? Let’s bring that figure into focus: imagine 54 million adults with various disabilities—28 million of them women—spending, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly $200 billion every year on discretionary items such as health and beauty products. Would it further surprise you to know that this figure represents two times the spending power of teens, a segment heavily marketed to by the beauty industry? If those figures are not staggering enough, add to them the millions of teenage girls out there who also have disabilities and whose parents, who typically pay for these items, have the same income and assets as the general population.

I should know. I have a teenager and a younger daughter who have special needs.

Every year millions of dollars are spent on cosmetics, physical fitness, clothing and hairstylists, in an attempt to look like the “ideal women” we see portrayed in the media. Though perception varies from person to person, most of us find that there is a gap between what we perceive as ideal and what we know is real, yet we continue to strive for the former. Women and teens with disabilities are affected by this discrepancy even more and strive that much harder to reach what is considered ideal.

Improving Self Esteem
Every woman I know uses cosmetics to camouflage imperfections, to draw attention away from problem areas in one form or another, but psychological studies have shown that makeup in particular can act as more than just cosmetic; its effects appear to go way beyond face value. It can improve self confidence and self esteem, and enhance the emotional well-being of its wearers. It can also affect the attitudes of others in terms of how they view the person wearing the makeup. Certainly everyone can benefit in some way from this “miracle,” but those who stand to benefit the most are the teens and women who have disabilities, especially those with any type of facial deformity.