An illustration of perfume, lotion, and other women’s products.
Money Things

What is the Pink Tax?

Money Things

What is the Pink Tax?

Why do women pay more for everyday items?

If you ever received a fast-food kids toy, you probably noticed two categories: boy toys and girl toys. Boy toys are often in primary colors and tend to be more action-oriented. Girl toys, however, may feature more pastel colors, such as pink or purple.

For many, toys can be an introduction to gender biases. And these influences follow us through to adulthood. But it’s more than just bias. Products gendered for women and girls are often priced higher than their for-men counterparts. And sometimes the only difference is that the product is colored pink. This is called the “Pink Tax,” a system of discriminatory pricing practices businesses and companies use. Read on to learn more about what the Pink Tax is, where it comes from, and ways you can avoid it.

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  1. What is the Pink Tax?
  2. What about menstrual products?
  3. What options are there to avoid the Pink Tax?

What is the Pink Tax?

First off, the Pink Tax isn’t an actual “tax.” It’s the process of charging more for consumer products and services based on gender. It’s called the Pink Tax because it costs women more for the same goods. And according to JP Morgan, the Pink Tax costs women approx. $1300 annually.

A graphic showing two toys: a masculine action figure "for boys" and a pretty doll "for girls". There are dollars signs under each toy depicting that the boy's toy costs less than the girl's toy that should be of the same value.
Bankrate article, “The Pink Tax: How women pay more for pink,” January 2021.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released a study in 2015 which found that women’s products in New York City cost 7% more than similar men’s products. Personal care products such as lotions or soaps could cost 13% more on average for women. This extends to services as well. From dry cleaners to mechanics, women are often charged more than men for the same services.

What about menstrual products?

The costs for menstrual and other hygiene products can be just as exorbitant. That’s even without a man-centered counterpart! 35 States classify tampons as luxury goods. Therefore, you can’t buy them with food stamps or health insurance spending. And a study published in 2021 showed that 2 in 5 people struggled to buy period products. That’s up 35% from a similar survey in 2018.

People who have periods are still charged more for essential healthcare products. Even in 2022, these products are still not readily accessible in many places such as public restrooms. Work is being done, but we still have a long way to go.

What options are there to avoid the Pink Tax?

If you want to get rid of the Pink Tax, there is some good news. For example, after the 2015 study, New York City put a “ban” on the Pink Tax back in 2020. This “ban” prohibits retailers or sellers from charging a different price for two similar goods or products.

And there are various companies doing the work to get around the Pink Tax. Businesses like the Black-owned Rock Your Month or Thinx, provide menstrual care essentials. Boxed, an online wholesale retailer, sells name-brand menstrual products at a discounted rate. And there’s a lot more! Check this map on 95+ companies shaping the future of women’s health

For the smart shoppers, there are savvy methods you can try. You can:

  • Compare prices before heading out to the store
  • Buy gender-neutral products (deodorants, shampoos, razors)
  • Support businesses & companies tackling the Pink Tax head-on
  • Contact your local representatives & businesses to call out the Pink Tax

So, you’ve learned a little bit about what the Pink Tax is. To some, it may seem insignificant. But injustice can add up. So, at the end of the day, it’s up to us to empower ourselves and each other. Whether it’s sharing what you’ve learned or making your voice heard, you have the power to make a difference.

The opinions we expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations.