It Really is More Expensive To Be A Woman In America – Here’s What You Can Do About It

A simple walk down the beauty aisle at a grocery store can highlight to anybody the high price that women pay for beauty products in modern America. According to YouGov’s 2013 lifestyle poll, 35% of women use one to two beauty products daily, while 17% use more than that. The majority of men, however (54%) don’t use a single product while they get ready to go to work or go out. 7% of women use up to 6 items daily, which is 7 times more than the 1% of men with similar usage patterns.

Women in America spend over $426 billion annually purchasing products in the name of beauty. One can (and many modern feminist scholars do) easily argue that this is a response to higher social beauty standards for women than men. However, you look at it, it is more expensive to be an average woman in America than an average man. 

Unfair Standards

Part of the reason it’s more expensive to be a woman is the aforementioned sex differences in beauty standards. These standards incur higher costs by encouraging women to wear more makeup and undergo more treatments to feel good about themselves. There are a few ways of approaching this issue. A long-term target for everybody across the USA should be to nurture a culture of aesthetic acceptance. A change like this occurs when millions of people make small differences, so there is no action too small: among your friendship groups try to encourage this with compliments about your friends’ areas of natural beauty.

You can also reject heavy-makeup trends and use significantly less makeup by doing the minimal makeup challenge and taking time to find a natural look that suits you. Some areas relating to physical appearance are more difficult to avoid – nobody is going to recommend you save money by avoiding the dentist, but rejecting unnecessary cosmetic operations and simply picking an affordable dentist that you can trust will prioritize health over cosmetics is an excellent place to start. 

Hidden Fees

There are hidden fees to being a woman, as highlighted by Lea Goldman. These range from higher dry-cleaning bills, higher home mortgages, higher insurance and of course higher costs of everyday consumables – the famous comparison being between male and female razors. In 1996, California banned gender pricing, citing that women suffer an extra cost of $1351 annually in fees and gender pricing. Goldman extrapolated that figure to estimate that the price women pay nationwide for gender pricing is $151 billion more than men. 

One way to counter this is to simply ask for discounts as much as possible, something that some psychologists argue may account partly for higher female expenses as women ask fewer questions than men due to social conditioning (as outlined as early as 1949 by legendary philosopher Simone de Beauvoir).

If you are facing steeper unfair bills for services such as laundry, consider taking a DIY attitude. If you don’t have enough free time, consider collectivizing with your friends and taking turns to do the group’s laundry work. If you can collectively replace any service (or even product, if there’s a homemade alternative), you should do so to take back power and make the $151 billion-dollar industry of sexism a little less profitable. 

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