Written by Samaira Aima, a grade 11 student.
The pink tax is a type of gender-based price discrimination that refers to an inherently invisible cost that we, as women, must pay for products that are specifically designed and marketed to us, as opposed to similar products that are designed and marketed to men, which are often available for less.
This phenomenon is not exclusive to first-world nations. Women in India, too, pay a pink tax on a variety of products and services marketed specifically to them. From cosmetics and accessories to clothing and shoes, products designed and marketed exclusively for women are more expensive than gender-neutral products. Manufacturers use bright pink or purple packaging and attractive aromas like peony, vanilla, and even “Honeysuckle in paradise” to thoroughly immerse female consumers in their gender-normative sales practices.
While exceptions exist, generally salons charge more for women’s haircuts than men’s haircuts. This is also true for personal care products like razors and deodorants. In some cases, apart from the packaging, the “female” version of various products is nearly identical to its generic counterpart.
The pink tax is a classic example of how the industrial sector has succeeded in establishing a false concept of a certain kind of beauty, capitalising on people’s insecurities. For example, whereas the cheapest disposable razors marketed towards men from a well-known brand cost around Rs 20, the lowest disposable razors for women from the same brand cost roughly Rs 55 and they both produce the same results.
Pink tax examples of where women pay more:
Personal Care Products
Explicit gender pricing is most commonly seen in personal care products such as shampoo, soap, razors, deodorant etc. Pink packaging and floral scents are not more expensive to manufacture than equally conventional dark-colored macho designs with names like “Amber Musk” “Dark Tobacco” etc.
Women pay up to 13% more for clothing simply because businesses know they can charge it.
Children’s toys, clothing, and equipment
According to an international study by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs titled ‘Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being A Female Consumer’, gender pricing actually starts as early as childhood. The DCA study found that girls’ toys cost 11% more, girls’ bikes cost 6% more
(helmets were 13%), and clothing ranged from 4-13% more than boys.
Services and Insurance
Service-based industries such as dry cleaning and auto repairs are similarly affected by gender pricing.
What is the impact of the pink tax and why is it a concern?
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), women work more and are paid less. The gender gap exists in all the countries throughout the world and globally it has shrunk only by a bit in the past decade. On one hand, women are not being remunerated enough for their work and on the other hand, women are charged more than men for almost all similar products.
In India, the pay disparity between women’s salaries and men’s salaries across all sectors is almost 19%.In the agriculture sector, the gap is even wider as women undertake 80% of the work. Women earn less than men and along with having to pay more for every small product or service, will inevitably make us, women, poorer. Imposing high costs for products aimed at women further widens the gender divide and contributes to reinforcing a particular conception and standard of beauty. Non-conformance with such beauty standards can harm people’s mental health leaving them more sensitive to social anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
The bottom line
The world is gradually getting more equitable, but along the way, there will be nuisances like the pink tax. We, as women, must account for, plan for, and strategize our savings in order to be ready for the future.
I Kid You Not now has a large readership across India and also parts of the world. If you want to write for us, you can submit your story here. You can also apply to become a news anchor. Apply here