Pink Tax and the Price Women Pay for Being an Ordinary Female Consumer

That sanitary pad and tampon, a pink razor, toys for girls, and even “women’s haircuts”, women all over the world are paying more for products marketed for women. To make things worse, menstrual products are one of many items that have an exorbitant amount of tax on them and are branded as luxury products; as if women have the choice to have their periods or not. Ask any woman anywhere in the world and she’ll tell you the importance of pads and tampons which are needed every month.

Women pay at least 7% more than men for the same product

A study reported in The Hindu Business Line and conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Amritsar, revealed that women have to pay anything from 20 rupees to 3,000 rupees more than men for the same product, anything from jeans, and even accessories. Similarly, The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs also recently stated that products for girls and women cost 7 percent more than the same products for boys and men. While women may think that the pink tax is applicable only to adult women’s products, the truth is that this dirty pink tax actually starts at birth as they cost 13 percent more than items for little boys.

While many women know about the gender wage gap, many have no idea that they are paying so much more for so many items like those found in the personal care aisle and in the clothing section for example. Half of the population is made up of women, yet how many know about this? 

Women’s clothes cost 20% more than men’s clothes

If you’re a woman, then you are already a victim of the pink tax, think about the last haircut you had and how much you paid; now compare it to how much a man pays for a haircut. From services like these to products, women are paying more and are not earning enough; the number of working women in Indian is only at a measly 27 percent. Priyam Sinha, a research scholar in women studies at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, said that ‘women earn only 80 percent as much as men on an average for the same amount of work.’ While Dr. Bharati Lavekar, MLA from Mumbai said that “Women’s clothes cost approx­imately four to 20 percent more than men’s clothes. It’s seven percent for accessories such as tote bags and watches, eight percent more for clothing and 13 percent more for personal care products. Products marketed specifically for women are generally more exp­ensive than those marketed for men.”

Women’s advertisements show unattainable beauty ideals

While most women laugh this off as they are charged more, the fact is that we really need to get to the bottom of this problem because, at the end of the day, it is gender discrimination. This issue goes beyond the amount of money spent, but it also shows how the market views women consumers and how women are being fleeced on a daily basis. First of all, women are conditioned to look a certain way to ensure they fit into the norms of femininity and as a result, they need to use certain products and avail certain services in order to maintain their looks. Just think of the countless jokes about how women need to use certain products to look presentable and the amount of time they take to get themselves ready to face the day every day. That is why many women’s advertisements show India’s unattainable beauty ideals, which by and large means very fair skin and coxes women consumers to spend more in order to achieve the same ideal.

The pink version of products makes women want to buy them

In addition to this, one will also notice how the color pink makes its presence felt in women’s products; this prevents men from buying them and it also shouts the “need” for women to own them. More often than not consumers pay more for the packaging than the actual contents of the product and if the product is imported, then the price will only be steeper. Therefore, if the perceived value is higher than the real value of the item, it will also cost higher. 

Most women have no idea about the pink tax

Author Sumana Roy finds it shocking that women had no idea they were being taxed so much for all these years, saying, “I am not sure about the nomenclature though, as it only reinforces stereotypes about the color pink and its relation to gender.” Though businesses and marketing companies need to held responsible such a daylight robbery, women need to collectively act on this problem. From refusing to buy products that are overpriced only for women to promoting products that are truly valued for money, women must first begin with investing in themselves rather than products. So how can women invest in themselves? Self-love rather than brand love, you know what we are talking about; brand-loving women are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the pink tax more than others.

Choose gender-neutral products to ensure a fairer price

The next step is to make oneself aware of the products that come under the pink tax and then name and shame them. Remember when product awareness and protests led to the government scrapping the tax on sanitary napkins and tampons. Also, women should choose gender-neutral products wherever possible in order to ensure that they are paying a fair price for the item. A good way to spot gender-neutral products is to look for the ones that are “for men,” you know those standard black razors, the simple soaps and the ones that don’t have a floral fragrance.

As many brands have are notorious for their “shrink it and pink it” philosophy, ultimately the buying power lies in the hands of consumers who can help kick the pink tax to the curb.

Image credit: Healthline

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