The Pink Tax, while a clever name, is a reality all women have faced at some point in their lives. At its most basic level, this phrase describes when women pay more for a product or service identical to the men’s version in every aspect except for the fact it is marketed towards women specifically. It has been documented in countless departments; from medicine to baby clothes women are paying nearly $1300 more a year for the same products as men. This seriously f*cked up occurrence affects girls before they can even walk. You can find endless examples across the internet but I’ve included some of the most ‘how did we ever put up with this’ examples at the bottom of this article.
Something as simple as buying children’s toothpaste, razors, or clothes ends up costing women 42% more than men. It’s especially enraging considering women have already been told their entire lives they need to invest in quality makeup, keep up with every fashion trend, and groom their bodies to unnatural standards. And I get it, I don’t need a 10-step skincare routine or buy a new wardrobe every season, but I’d like to pay the same price for the necessities that my brother or dad buys.
Being a woman should come with a warning label. Warning: being a woman will bleed you dry - financially that is. This is something women everywhere realized when all the world shut down suddenly and we no longer had to spend $50 for a decent manicure or $150 for a cut and color. All of these services add up to an obscene amount of money and yet women continue to do them because in many situations it’s necessary (hello being a teacher and having your manicure be on display 24/7 or a female executive having to dress to the 9s every day just to earn some respect). Whether women are spending money on skincare to feel more confident in their skin or simply buying tampons so they can go to the pool on their period, we should never have to pay more than men. Period.
Speaking of necessities… Let's talk about tampons. The ‘Tampon Tax’ is a subsection of the Pink Tax and one that is still heavily prevalent. Tampons and sanitary pads are without a doubt a recurring necessity for the high majority of women across the globe. They are something girls start using as early as 8 years old and use up until their 40s or 50s. That’s an average of 4 decades of use! One might begin to wonder then, why tampons are still taxed as luxury goods? In fact, 60% of states in the US tax tampons and pads as luxury goods. Menstrual products in these states are not classified the same as other medical necessities or supplies which means their tax percentage is higher. Products like ChapStick, Viagra, and dandruff shampoo, however, are tax-exempt in many US states. Discrimination against women takes many forms, but it feels oddly personal when something I use because I’m PMSing (so I can go to work and make less) is classified as a “luxury”.
The Pink Tax is not a new concept, and thankfully, some governments have started to rectify this sexist phenomenon. Kenya was the first to abolish any “luxury” taxes on feminine products. Since then, Australia, Uganda, Canada, India, Nicaragua, Malaysia, and Lebanon have followed suit. The U.K was the most recent country to abolish the “luxury” tax starting the first of this year. All of these legislative advancements are certainly exciting and hopefully indicative of a pattern. Scotland, however, has gone one step further by providing its female citizens with pads and tampons free of charge. This type of advancement on an international level leaves me with only one question: when is the US gonna get the memo?
Author || McKenna Robertson