The “pink tax” — the upcharge that so frequently occurs on products and services marketed towards women and femmes — remains frustratingly real, even in 2018. However, home goods company Snowe has just announced a deal that makes the phenomenon slightly less upsetting: Snowe’s new Blush bedding collection has been launched at a discount to raise awareness about the issue. As Lyndsey Matthews at Cosmo put it, they’re essentially “anti-pink tax sheets” — and people are Here For It.
Snowe originally launched in 2015, with its founders, Rachel Cohen and Andres Modak, aiming to create a brand full of beautiful, functional housewares at prices that won’t break the bank. Several years later, the company’s sheets and bedding items have emerged as clear winners, with many calling them the best sheets you can possibly buy. The Blush collection consists of the same bedding items for which Snowe has become famous produced in a neutral-leaning light pink shade — which, apparently is something for which customers have been clamoring. According to Snowe’s blog post announcing the collection, Snowe shoppers had been “writing in with requests for a new colorway for our award-winning bedding” quite regularly — and, as the company put it, “The people spoke, and the people wanted pink.”
But then, Snowe took it a step further, using the shade of the sheets as a way to speak out against the pink tax — and in a way that’s beneficial for customers, at that. “As a company devoted to gender-neutral home essentials — and powered by a team that’s over 60 percent female-identifying — we were excited to not just talk about an issue that matters to us, but to put our money where our mouth is and stand up to the pink tax,” wrote the company in their blog post. “So our Blush bedding collection launches … May 15th, with limited-edition pricing.” The discount is equal to the average pink tax upcharge: Seven percent off.
There are a lot of different options available — you can get a whole sheet set that includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and two pillowcases; a set of two pillowcases; individual pillow shams; a duvet cover; and two different bundles that include a full set of sheets, a duvet and/or additional pillowcases and a sham — all of which are, for a limited time, seven percent less expensive than Snowe’s offerings in other colors. That means, for example, that a set of pillowcases is $53.94 instead of $58, a Queen-size sheet set is $184.14 instead of $198, and a Kind-size duvet cover is $230.64 instead of $248. As always, you’ve got your choice between sateen and percale as the material; they both cost the same, so go with whichever you think will make you the happiest. (Snowe’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” bedding guide might be helpful. Also, it’s cute and fun.)
A study conducted by the New York Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) in 2015 remains the most comprehensive piece of research on the pink tax in the United States; it’s where the seven percent figure used for Snowe’s Blush collection discount comes from. For the study, the DCA examined hundreds of products, largely from national retailers, covering a huge range of categories, and found that on average, products marketed towards women and femmes are seven percent more expensive than the same products marketed towards men.
“When the researchers came back with the results, I was surprised by how pervasive the practice was,” Julie Menin, who commissioned the study as then-Commissioner of the New York DCA (these days, she’s Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment), told TIME in 2016. She continued, “This is not a case of occasional overpricing. 42 percent of the time, women are charged an average of seven percent more than men for what is ostensibly the same product.”
What’s more, said Menin, it’s an issue “across the board.” She told TIME, “We wanted to have the broadest possible sample size, so we tested 800 products — high-end, mid-range and low-end — that ran the gamut from children’s toys to kids’ and adult clothing to personal care products to home health care products for seniors.” The same figure came up time and time again: Seven percent. Personal care products (deodorant, shampoo, and the like) were the “worst offenders,” said Menin — but the most frustrating example was a kids’ scooter. “The girls’ version is pink and costs $49.99. The boys’ scooter is red and costs $25,” said Menin.
The pink tax is especially frustrating when you add in the fact of the wage gap: Female-identifying people still make only a percentage of what (white, generally cis-het) male-identifying people do. What’s more, it’s much, much worse for many women of color. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Asian women make between 87 percent and 90 percent of what men do and white non-Hispanic women make between 77 and 79 percent; however, it’s 63 percent for black women, 59 percent for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women, 57 percent for American Indian and Alaska Native women, and 54 percent for Latinx women. Ultimately, what we have is a situation where women and femmes are getting paid less for the same work as men while simultaneously being charged more for the same products. And that is very, very much not OK.
But there’s been an ongoing fight to eliminate the pink tax. Advocacy groups have been working to raise awareness about the issue; more and more companies are saying “no” to the pink tax; and in April, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents California’s 14th Congressional District, introduced H.R. 5464 — the Pink Tax Repeal Act — to make gender-based discrimination in the pricing of products and services a thing of the past. The statement Snowe is making with their discounted Blush collection launch fits into this fight, too.
I’ll admit that I would be more impressed with the “anti-pink tax sheets” if the discount were permanent, rather than limited, or if a percentage of the profits from each purchase of something in the Blush collection went towards advocacy groups working on the legislative or macro levels to end the pink tax once and for all. They’re also still pretty pricey; while I doubt neither their quality of Snowe’s bedding nor the importance of having comfortable sheets on your bed (hi there, good sleep hygiene), they’re likely to be out of the price range of many people.
But the gesture is still a nice one; additionally, Snowe has committed to working towards lasting change in other ways: “To keep that conversation going, not only are we raising our voices (and lowering our launch price), but we’ll continue to speak up when we see unfair pricing in the wild and will be writing to our local representatives in support of equality in pricing,” the company wrote in their blog post about the Blush collection.
And to be clear, the Blush bedding items aren’t just for women and femmes; as Snowe pointed out, all their items are intended to be gender-neutral — and even if they weren’t, that still wouldn’t matter: Everyone is free to fill their home with whatever colors they want. Your home can be as pink as you like — and you should be able to make it so without paying through the nose.