The under-discussed “pink tax” or “tampon tax” refers to the luxury tax placed on menstrual products, placing menstrual products in the same category as luxury and exotic vehicles. However, what was once a taboo conversation is now in the public eye — but it won’t stay there without perseverance.  

“Pink tax” profit

“The luxury tax on menstrual products is essentially an additional tax,” explains Ingrid Nilsen, an American YouTube personality who has been following the period tax closely for years. Some states are repealing the tax, as New York did in 2016, “but still the majority of states have this luxury tax,” says Nilsen, “and what this means is that these states are making millions and millions of dollars off this additional tax.”

“Women’s bodies are glorified when they are considered something sexual but are gross when they are doing something completely natural.”

Menstrual products are being put into the same category as exotic cars, “when in reality you know these products are not a luxury, they are a necessity,” Nilsen asserts. She adds that menstrual products are not covered by food stamps either, and the additional cost not only adds up, it is simply too much for many families. “Especially once you think about families who have more than one person menstruating, it really does become a big issue,” she says. Nilsen explains that states are extremely hesitant to repeal the tax because, like the state of New York pre-2016, they are making roughly ten million dollars off the luxury tax on tampons alone.

Spreading the word

Although the tampon tax is a huge burden, it still comes as a surprise to many of us. Nilsen considers this just one of the consequences of the way we talk about periods and women’s bodies. “Women’s bodies are glorified when they are considered something sexual but are gross when they are doing something completely natural,” she said. “That kind of silence really fosters a world where people really don’t realize what’s going on.”

It’s critical that women become more comfortable talking about their experiences and sharing information. When you do so, Nilsen points out, “you never know who you might be sharing with. They might have a platform that they can share with more people.” Women’s bodies are advertised and marketed in certain ways, but as Nilsen encourages, “to really seize that and reclaim our bodies for ourselves, and tell people ‘No, this is how we want to be treated,’ that is extremely powerful.”