The expense of being a woman, is something that’s been debated on for a while. Tell us you haven’t reluctantly look at your bank account and wondered, “Is being a woman making me broke? I didn’t sign up for this!” But breaking news: the cost of being a woman is in fact more expensive than the cost of being a man! Cue a Angela Rye eye-roll for that double standard.
There’s the basic toiletries like body wash, shampoo and conditioner are that both the average man and woman top up on. But then there’s addressing the biological realities like bras, tampons/pads/menstrual cups, contraceptives, and gyno visits. Then you get into the more objective choices like that thing we love here – makeup. According to a 2013 study by Mint, the average woman spends $15,000 on makeup alone in their lifetime, which doesn’t seem that high. But when you think about overall skin care and all the retinoids, anti-wrinkle creams, face masks, and snail gels marketed towards us that number more than likely spikes.
Last year, Glamour made a great video breaking down the costs of a being a woman vs a man. Side by side you can watch as the two go through their normal routines racking up to the overall costs in year. Some could argue the actual price of things is completely objective and women could potentially just buy lower-end items to save or when it comes to things like makeup, just not buy it at all. But let’s not forget about that little thing called the “pink tax.”
The “pink tax” or the “women’s tax” suggests that women are actually paying more than men for the same exact products. According to a 2015 study, products marketed to women cost more 42% of the time. 13% of that goes to personal care products. Then there’s the “luxury tax” or “tampon tax” that suggests that even feminine hygiene products are unjustly taxed in the majority of US states (thanks to The Nation for the below upsetting image). It’s a disconcerting truth for a society that often treats a female menstruation as such a taboo topic, but in turn taxes it like a luxury.
Cases have been brought to the federal court against gender-based price gouging and have been dismissed. However, there are city/state state laws in place in New York City and California that prevent retailers from price differentiation based on gender. Sure these bans only came to play in the 90s, but there seems to be some recent progress.
Last year, New York, Illinois and Connecticut tossed the additional tax on feminine hygiene products by recategorizing them. Then just this month, badass New York Congresswoman, Grace Meng became the first politician to take a stand against the tampon tax on a federal level by introducing the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017. Her legislation would make feminine hygiene products accessible female inmates/detainees as well as employers with more than 100 employees, free of charge. It also will provide refundable tax credit to low-income women and allow feminine hygiene products to be purchased with a FSA.
So how else can we further mitigate this frustrating double standard? Check and compare prices any opportunity you can. Products like razors and shaving cream often only have minor production changes between those marketed between women and men. Pay attention to ingredients and see if it’s worth spending more just because it’s in a “women’s” section. Chances are it’s not. If you’re in a state where feminine hygiene products are still taxed, consider making the shift to menstrual cups as many of brands have a lifespan of years. We’re not gonna tell you to stop buying things like skin care and makeup, because well look at it us. But we can tell you to continue to make conscious choices in doing whatever’s best for you financially and mentally.