Op-ed

The pink tax

Ah, the female body—a wondrous vessel with a very complex set of needs. The pursuit of hygiene and care can be a rocky one. One feels as though it comes with no concrete set of directions, but one that includes numerous steps and quite a lot of cash.

While it is not often talked about, knowing exactly how to care for yourself and having hygiene products readily available to you is a privilege that not all women have.

Let’s just put it out there: being a female is expensive. The products that are vital to our health and crucial for maintaining a normal day-to-day life come at a price, despite our cycles and needs are not in our control.

A box of tampons or pads retails around seven to eight dollars, and women typically need one to two boxes every single month. That equals out to around $15 spent monthly on a bodily function that we have no say in.

On average, a woman with a regular cycle will spend approximately anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 dollars in her lifetime on sanitation products alone. That is without the additional cost of any method of birth control or medication to alleviate the symptoms of menstruation.

It’s like being taxed an extra $2,000 because we have female parts.

This is a ridiculously high figure, which in this economy many women are unable to afford – making that basic female sanitation and hygiene is a luxury. One that so many people have to go without.

It goes without saying that not having access to these products hinders a woman’s daily life immensely, and it is hard to imagine going 3-7 days out of the month having to handle menstruation without any products to help. For sanitary and comfort reasons, it would be almost impossible to maintain a normal routine while going through this.

Luckily, while this is an issue that affects a large amount of girls and women globally,  we now live in a generation that recognizes issues such as these and steps up to the plate to fix them.

Recently, the brand L. has begun selling at Target stores across the country. The brand features various organic products such as tampons and pads that are not produced with harsh chemicals such as chlorine and range in various sizes to fit all women’s needs.

This brand is unique for more reasons than it’s all natural products and aesthetically pleasing packaging; L. is a 1:1 company, meaning that whenever something is purchased, the brand donates one to a woman in need.

This makes it so easy for the everyday citizen, who is privileged enough to be able to afford their own feminine products – to help out those who are not as fortunate simply by purchasing something they would already be buying for themselves anyway. By buying from this brand, it costs absolutely nothing extra to help those in need.

On a more local level, there are ways in which our university has helped out with this issue. Throughout the month of February, the West Chester Center for Women and Gender Equity held their own “Period Project,” where they encouraged students, staff and faculty to donate feminine hygiene products to numerous collection boxes across campus.

Those products were then donated to women in the community who are unable to purchase those products for themselves. This effort was able to provide the comfort of sanitation to women who deserve just as much as anyone else.

Being hygienic isn’t something luxurious and is something we should all have a right to, not something that should be reserved for the wealthy. While it is easily something we take for granted, it is important to understand that to be able to buy the care products that we need is sadly a privilege that not all people have.

Once we recognize that, it is easy to turn that realization into action by buying from certain brands or donating to organizations that are dedicated to making sure every woman has what she needs to be healthy, comfortable and confident.

Ali Kochik is a first-year student English major. AK908461@wcupa.edu

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