The Pink Tax: What it costs and how to fight it
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It costs a lot of money to be a woman today.
The wage gap is still pervasive, and the United States is also the only industrialized nation to not offer paid maternity leave.
These financial issues are being discussed and debated more commonly, but there’s a price to being female that many people overlook.
It’s known as the pink tax. It’s small, but this everyday penalty makes it cost just a little bit more to be a woman.
Read on to find out exactly what the pink tax is, what it's costing you, and how we can work to combat it.
What is the Pink Tax?
Several years ago, Bic launched a line of pens exclusively for women.
Almost immediately, the company was thoroughly mocked by commenters on Amazon, on The Ellen Show, and in offices around the world.
It’s easy to dismiss Bic Pens for Her as an ill-conceived marketing attempt or even a publicity stunt. After all, it got everyone talking about pens.
However, the truth is there is a real issue here. Specifically, companies are levying a pink tax and it’s costing women a pretty penny.
The pink tax is the amount of additional money women pay for everyday things. From deodorant and shampoo to baby bassinets and adult diapers, brands often charge extra for a similar–if not identical–product marketed to girls and women.
Is it Real?
It might seem hard to believe at first, but the pink tax is real.
In 2015, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released an eye-opening study. It found nearly 100 brands engaged in gender-based pricing.
Across those brands, there were 794 comparable products for sale in New York City that cost women more money.
The study breaks down products into various categories, such as personal care, toys, and home health care products. Out of the 35 different product categories in the study, 30 of them were charging more for products aimed at girls and women.
But you don’t have to take an official report’s word for it. Take a look at the end caps and displays the next time you’re at a drugstore or supermarket. The numbers might surprise you, but they don’t lie.
The pink tax is real, and once you know to look for it, you’ll see it in many places.
What Does the Pink Tax Cost Me?
The pink tax is real, but what does it really cost?
Pink tax numbers might only seem like a few cents here and a few dollars there, but gender-based pricing adds up over time.
Current estimates figure that women pay an additional $1,400 per year due to the pink tax. That number is jaw-dropping.
Paying an extra dollar or two for a bottle of shampoo doesn’t seem significant at first. But gender-based pricing is so pervasive, women are often paying more for so many things, like the dry-cleaning of a button-down shirt simply because the buttons fasten on the opposite side.
If you pay an extra few dollars on each shopping trip you make, it’s much easier to see how fast this pink tax adds up.
To see an estimate of what the pink tax costs you, enter your birthday into the pink tax calculator from Ax The Pink Tax.
In addition to these small additional costs for berry blossom deodorant–you know, in comparison to the man cave mountain alternative–there’s another tax women pay. This one is an actual tax, and it’s known informally as the tampon tax.
Basically, luxury items are taxed at a different rate than non-luxury items. That means goods with a classification as either groceries or prescriptions have less tax or are even tax-exempt.
Despite the fact that most women consider feminine hygiene products as a necessity, 32 states currently tax tampons, pads, and other feminine hygiene products as luxury items.
Now, women are paying extra every time they buy a box of feminine hygiene products. The additional tax on 1-2 boxes per month multiplied by 12 for an average of 40 years is no small cost.
How Can We Fight the Pink Tax?
The pink tax is perfectly legal. There is no federal legislation prohibiting gender-based pricing.
As more people become aware of the pink tax, they are looking for ways to fight it. From speaking up to shopping differently, these are some of the most effective ways to combat the pink tax on individual and broader scales.
Ax The Pink Tax with Information
Sites like AxThePinkTax and TaxFreePeriod are working hard to spread awareness about the issue. Accessing information on their sites goes a long way to support their initiatives.
Additionally, promoting awareness of the issue is also a huge step. When consumers are more informed, they can make better decisions.
Using the hashtags #axthepinktax and #pinktax on social media can let your friends, family, and social media followers know that gender-based pricing is real.
Remember to Vote with Your Dollars
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to fighting the pink tax is that every dollar we spend is much like casting a vote.
It’s essentially telling a company that we approve of them, their products, and their practices.
Companies need consumer bases to thrive, which is why it’s important to be mindful of what we buy and who we buy it from.
Shop and Swap Strategically
One way to avoid the pink tax is to shop strategically.
If you notice a price discrepancy between products marketed to men and those marketed toward women, investigate other brands.
You might also consider switching to the male-marketed product. It might sound silly at first, but more and more women are jumping on board. Look at this Dollar Shave Club review as an example!
You might also consider other product lines, like the much-buzzed-about Trader Joe’s toiletries, that are more gender-neutral.
Of course, before making the switch to any new item, it’s vital you do your due diligence, exploring ingredients and instructions for use.
As far as items like children’s clothing, toddler toys, and baby items, another way to dodge the pink tax is to look into secondhand markets. Or consider purchasing gender-neutral items.
It’s worth noting that, as more young families seem to favor earth tones and grays, some companies are now starting to mark up those items.
Support Change in Legislation
If you’ve ever followed the news as a piece of legislation navigates the labyrinth of bureaucracy, it might seem that legislative change is lifetimes away.
The truth is, though, that many policies can change faster than we might imagine. That’s especially true at state and local levels.
The tampon tax is one example.
Over the past five years, as people have started to voice their concerns about this tax, states are starting to act. In fact, Illinois repealed their tampon tax in 2016, and Florida did away with theirs in 2018.
If your state currently charges a tampon tax, you can sign a legal declaration to remove it in just a few clicks.
Final Thoughts on Fighting the Cost of the Pink Tax
The pink tax is real, and it’s just one additional way that it costs more to be a woman.
There’s good news, though. We don’t have to wait for companies or federal legislation to end the pink tax.
Taking action by speaking up and shopping strategically means we can all start to fight the pink tax today.
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Article written by Penny