News, Culture & Society

How much money have YOU spent on tampons?

Women spend an extra $1,353 per year on products like sanitary pads, shampoo and tampons, new research reveals.

These items are taxed as luxury goods – or deemed to be unnecessary – in 40 states, including New York, Texas and California.

A 2015 report revealed that women’s personal care products cost more 56 percent of the time, while men’s products cost more 13 percent of the time.

Now a new campaign called Ax the Pink Tax, launched by Girls in Tech and The European Wax Center, is raising awareness about how expensive it is for people who rely on female-specific products like tampons. 

To hammer home the point, they have created a calculator that generates an estimated amount of how much money each user has lost to the Pink Tax.

Research has found that products targeting women cost seven percent more than similar products for men

The ‘pink tax’ is a term used to describe the added amount women are charged for basic products or services, including body wash, tampons, conditioner and more. 

Ax the Pink Tax isn’t the first campaign to point out that female-specific products are subject to value-added tax.

In 2015, Subeta Vimalarajah, an Australian student, gathered more than 98,000 signatures for her Stop Taxing My Period petition. 

In 2016, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia from California proposed legislation that would end sales taxes on feminine hygiene products, including tampons and sanitary pads, a cause she is still fighting for today. 

‘Here we are underpaid, every penny really matters, and every month we have a necessity we can’t control,’ said Garcia, according to the Sacramento Bee. ‘We’re being taxed for being women.’

That same year, state lawmakers in Illinois approved measures to eliminate the state sales tax on feminine hygiene products, like tampons, which were taxed as a luxury good because they were deemed nonessential. 

‘Certainly tampons and pads shouldn’t be taxed,’ said Dr Lauren Streicher, medical of the Center for Sexual Health and the Center for Menopause at Northwestern University. ‘They are necessary products not a luxury, it’s something that’s required.’

Using Ax the Pink Tax’s calculator, we found that a 22-year-old woman, who has just graduated from college and with debt, has lost at least $28,000 to the Pink tax.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old women have lost at least $36,000 to the Pink Tax, a price tag many people in their mid-20s barely earn more than annually.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women who are full-time wage and salary workers earn on average $705 weekly, which equates to $36,660 each year. 

Sherry Baker, president of marketing and product development at the European Wax Center, said it’s unjust that women have to spend a lot more for personal care products than men.

‘Each year, women unfairly pay more for basic essentials for personal care and beauty, and it’s time to spotlight this discrepancy and demand change,’ said Baker, whose company is offering free pink brows to highlight the issue.

‘As a brand that unapologetically champions confident women and empowers them with choices, European Wax Center is proud to leverage our scale and position to bring attention to the Pink Tax.’

A 2015 report released by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs revealed that on average across five industries, women’s products cost seven percent more than similar products for men, including toys and personal care products.

Women paid seven percent more for toys and accessories, four percent more for children’s clothing, eight percent more for adult clothing, 13 percent more for personal care products and eight percent more for senior/home health care products.

For instance, the study revealed that an all-in-one shampoo and conditioner from VO5 targeting women cost $1.99 while a male equivalent from the same brand cost $1.29. 

Meanwhile, Rite Aid Bladder Control Pads cost women $11.99 for 39 count, while men can get 52 pads from the same brand at the same price.

The report also mentioned a 1994 study conducted by the state of California which found that women pay a ‘gender tax’ of approximately $1,351 for the same services as men. When adjusted for inflation, that amounts to about $2,248.65 in 2018. 

Which is interesting since women, on average, earn less than men – in 2016, they earn about 80.5 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 

‘We know, through studies, that women pay what amounts to $2,248.65 more for their personal care essentials, and EWC is taking a stand against such inequality by empowering our guests, and women everywhere, to join us,’ said David Coba, CEO and co-founder of European Wax Center. 

‘We hope #AxThePinkTax becomes a movement and effects change, perhaps even eradicating The Pink Tax.’