The nonprofit YWCA in the US said women and girls are spending increasing amounts of money in their bid to look like idealized, air-brushed magazine models.
The report, Beauty at any Cost, noted US women spent some $US7 billion ($8 billion) a year, or an average of about $US100 each, on cosmetics and beauty products.
That $US100 a month, if saved and invested for five years, would pay for a full year of tuition and fees at a public college, the report calculated.
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"We believe that the obsession with idealized beauty and body image is a lifelong burden that takes a terrible toll on all young girls and women in this country," said YWCA USA chief executive, Lorraine Cole.
"What's really new here is the sheer extent to which women and girls are now willing to go...to be 'beautiful,' according to standards perpetuated by a youth-obsessed media culture with literally thousands of messages, 24 hours a day," she said.
Nearly 11.7 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the US in 2007 -- a 446 per cent increase in 10 years, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Surgery.
Botox injections and liposuction are the most popular nonsurgical and surgical procedures.
The report cites other research linking smoking to attempts by women and girls to control their weight. It notes that some ingredients in US cosmetics, such as hair sprays and nail polishes, contain phthalates that have been shown to cause liver and reproductive system damage in animals.
The YWCA teamed up with the makers of a new documentary on the issue, "America the Beautiful", in a bid to alert the 2.5 million women and girls the YWCA serves in the United States