As a gal on a budget, there are few things more infuriating than the dreaded "pink tax." What's the pink tax, you ask? Well next time you're at the drugstore, try comparing the prices of products that are marketed towards women with products for men. Nine times out of ten, the pink ladystuff is going to be more expensive, even if the ingredients or function of the thing is EXACTLY THE SAME.
How does this happen? Big brands claim that manufacturing woman-specific products is more expensive, but they don't have much to back that up with, especially as the only differences between, say, a man's deodorant and a woman's deodorant are scent and packaging. On imported goods, price discrepancies can be accounted for by seemingly random gendered taxes. A 2012 Marie Claire article reported that imported "men's sneakers were taxed at 8.5 percent while women's sneakers were taxed at 10 percent," for no logical reason.
Unfortunately, it seems that retailers are up-charging women not out of financial necessity, but because they can. Despite unfair gendered pricing, many, many women continue to buy into the cult of the pink, and if we're willing to pay more, no company is going to charge less. It's just simple economics.
So what's a frugal girl to do? In honor of this Sunday's National Women's Day, I've compiled a list of products and services you can get at a discount by just ditching the pink.
Let's take a quick look at Walgreens, shall we? One search on their site for "deodorant" and I'm immediately confronted by harsh reality of the pink (or perhaps purple, in this case) tax: While 3 oz of men's Speed Stick antiperspirant/deodorant is $2.79, women are paying $2.99 for just 2.3 oz of LADY Speed Stick antiperspirant/deodorant.
I know a 20 cent difference isn't exactly newsworthy, but the fact that Speed Stick is totally cool with charging women MORE MONEY for LESS PRODUCT is ridiculous. I don't know about the rest of you, but I for one am not OK with being ripped off just so I can decorate my medicine cabinet with a pretty purple bottle and smell of baby powder or roses or whatever stupid dainty scent Speed Stick believes women should smell like. Like, I'm only one item into this list and already I'm in a feminist rage over 20 cents and 0.7 oz of deodorant. Excuse me while I open the window and scream.
OK, I feel better. Thank you for bearing with me. The simple solution to this problem is just to buy men's deodorant, but if you're not up for smelling like the lovechild of a pine tree and a lumber yard, you could just go the hippie-chic way and make your own. It's a lot cheaper. Here's a pretty thorough how-to that uses ingredients you probably already have on hand, and recycles an old deodorant container so no one will ever have to know how thrifty and natural you really are.
2. Razors & Shaving Supplies
Sometime in the early 20th century, Western society collectively decided that, like voting before 1920, hairy legs were a dudes-only kinda thing. Thus the women's shaving industry was born, and generations of girls flocked to their local drugstores in search of the perfect razor.
Now is probably a good time to mention I have no problem with leg-shaving as a concept. I'd never judge someone who decided it wasn't for them, but I personally love the feeling of a silky-smooth leg. What I don't love is being manipulated into spending insane amounts of money on ladies-only razors, blades and shaving cream when the stuff in the guy's section is just as effective and way less expensive.
I picked on Walgreens before, so let's see what their arch nemesis, CVS, has to offer in the way of gender price inequality! Never to be outdone by Walgreens, CVS is offering four Gillette three-blade men's razors for $9.99 (so about $2.50 each) and three Gillette Venus three-blade women's razors for $12.99 (or $4.33 each). Both of these choices are for sensitive skin and offer moisture strips, pivoting heads and three blades, so it seems the only difference here is the price and the color of the razor.
It gets even worse for shaving cream: you can get 11 oz of Gillette shaving cream for men for $2.99 (roughly $0.27 an oz), but if you want the ladies' version you'll be shelling out $1.79 for a measly 2.5 oz (or about $0.71 an oz). LOL.
The solution here is clearly to buy men's razors and shaving cream as they are literally the exact same as the stuff marketed to women. If you can't fathom shaving your dainty lady legs with a blue razor I suggest you invest in some pink spray paint and at least six months of therapy.
I don't know why I thought this one would be tough to find examples of, cuz it was actually laughably easy. Behold the Levi's 501 Original Fit men's jeans being sold for $78 at Levis.com. Next, let's take a short hike over to the 'Boyfriend Jeans' page in the women's section, and we see the same pair of jeans being sold for $98. Seriously, open both of those pages and flip back and forth. The only discernible differences in these two products are the gender of the people wearing them and the giant holes cut into the knees of the women's pants. $20 more for less fabric and holes?? Makes total sense, Levi's!
If you're into the boyfriend style, obviously you're gonna want to buy your jeans in the men's section, but that's not feasible for women of every shape and size. Men's jeans are shaped a lot differently than women's, and are definitely not built to accommodate a woman's curves. Plus if your go-to style is the skinny jean, you'll be hard pressed to find a men's version of that. So the next time your boyfriend, male BFF or random work acquaintance says anything snarky about the amount of money women spend on jeans, kindly inform him of this ridiculous double standard and ask for $20 to even out the playing field.
When you think about it, it makes sense to charge a woman with long, thick hair more for a haircut than a man with a short, cropped style. The more time a stylist has to spend on your cut, the more money he or she should be compensated, right? Well this works in theory, but in reality, even women with close-cropped pixie cuts usually end up paying the same as a woman with hair down to her knees, and men with longer styles usually still pay the men's haircut price, which is typically between $10-20 less than what women are charged.
So if you're a woman with a short haircut, how can you avoid paying more than your male counterparts for the same cut? Call the salon before you appointment and explain the situation, and ask if you could be charged for a men's haircut instead. It really depends on the salon, but many will be accommodating. If you've got a hairdresser you really like, you can also try talking to them about your concerns, and you might be able to negotiate a price that works for both of you. Just make sure you speak up--the worst that can happen is they say no, and if you say nothing at all, you're guaranteed to pay more.