Pink is my favorite color, and I hate it. I hate it because it labels me, takes from me and consumes me. It is an avoidable indulgence, a consequential preference. It is a taxing obsession, a losing game. Pink is my favorite color, and I hate it.
There’s one place I hate liking pink in particular: the store. Here, your nose is entranced by a fruity and floral fragrance and your eyes are overcome with bright bursts of swirly patterns adorning plastic packaging. You’ve made it to the pink aisle. Yet to enter this aisle, the aisle for feminine hygiene and beauty, there exists a tax that strips your pockets of additional quarters — more than 5200 quarters a year, on average — a tax not levied on the adjacent aisle that’s decked in blue. This is because being a woman is taxing, and the tax is, of course, imposed in pink. Pink is an unavoidable color — a labeling one.
The pink tax, a play on words referencing gender-based pricing, reflects an upcharge in prices accounting for aesthetic differences as opposed to functionality. In essence, the pink handle of a razor has a higher price tag than one that is blue (and to date, no research suggests that the color pink aids in the hair removal process).
Yet the pink pocket-picking process is not limited to your bathroom cupboard, for it begins essentially at birth when deciding between the pink radio flyer scooter as opposed to the traditional red. The red flyer is priced at $24.99, while the pink one costs twice as much at $49.99. The results are clear: Being a woman comes at a cost at the hands of policymakers and marketing executives. Said people have designed the color to be the default color preference for women and therefore an avoidable cost only if you abandon said preference; otherwise, you pay the price of gender-based discrimination printed on price tags. For me, I am tired of being nickeled and dimed because of my gender identity and its colored uniformity: pink.
A 2015 breakthrough study conducted by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs — now the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection — found that products marketed to female consumers were subjected to higher prices in every industry, with the exception of underwear. Through a process of analyzing and averaging price differences in a range of 35 different product types and 794 individual items, the percentage difference in price was determined in analogous men’s and women’s products. The result: girls’ toys and accessories cost 7% more, girls’ clothing cost 4% more, women’s clothing cost 8% more and women’s personal care products cost 13% more than their male counterparts. In sum, just over 50% of the population is being subjected to taxes designed to manipulate “uninformed” consumers. This is your wake-up call, and hopefully, this text does not have to be colored pink to get your attention. It is time to take our quarters back.
The solution, however, shouldn’t have to be going blue. Neutrality and the absence of gender thrust on the color wheel are what can save the change in your coin purse. Yet, the achievement of neutrality has a long way to go and hurdles to overcome to be the new marketing standard. The color pink has a social stronghold that beige has yet to tackle.
Therefore, instead of completely abandoning pink, it needs to undergo both social and political reform so that girls like me can afford their favorite color. Last year in a press release, five years following the mentioned breakthrough study, New York was the first state that took pink back, making the problem no longer found in the color itself but instead those who stock it on shelves. Specifically, it bans “substantially similar services” charged at different prices, with the example of a violation being “dry cleaning a woman’s suit jacket for $12 and a man’s suit jacket for $8.” Price differences must be justified and are subject to objection by the customer unless there exist substantial differences in manufacturing time, difficulty, cost, materials or any other gender-neutral reason for an increased cost.
Pink does not hinder the manufacturing process nor pose difficulty to the consumer any more than the color blue. Neither does pink demand excess labor nor additional materials at the expense of the producer. We as consumers — once little girls scooting on pink radio flyers — are the ones hindered, fronted with difficulty and unnecessary choices at the expense of preference for the color pink.
Pink is my favorite color, and I love it. I love it because it empowers me, pushes me and enlivens me. It is unavoidable comfort, a positive preference. It is a taxing obsession, a soon-to-be winning game. Pink is my favorite color and I love it. I shouldn’t have to pay for that.
Julia Maloney is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.