are these ads for period pants too racy for the subway?

Period-proof underwear brand Thinx’s minimalist ad campaign was deemed too inappropriate for your morning commute.

by Hana Beach
Oct 22 2015, 9:00pm

Apparently periods are too risqué for the New York subway system. Last week, Thinx, a new line of period-proof underwear, suffered a major setback in its month-long struggle to launch a subway ad campaign. The media company Outfront, which is in charge of selling ad-space on the subway, rejected the brand's campaign imagery.

Now, I bet you're expecting to see an overtly sexualized lady or a bloody, horror movie-esque scene. But if anything Thinx's ads are too realistic. In one image a girl in a tanktop and underwear is folded over, as if she has cramps, and in another no women appear at all, only a cut grapefruit - a playful allusion to a lady's nether regions.

However, Thinx CEO Miki Agrawal was informed in an email that the ads "seem[ed] to have a bit too much skin," which is incredibly hypocritical considering the onslaught of scantily clad women that subway riders currently face in many carriages. And when Agrawal took issue with Outfront's double standard, the company responded by telling her not to make it a "women's issue." Hard considering menstruation is a defining, universal female experience. Contrasting her ads with other female-focused ads on the subway, Agrawal asked, "You don't want to talk about how women's bodies actually work, but you want to doctor the way a woman feels about her body?"

Outfront's sales team - in which only two of the seven leadership positions are held by women - explained that they "suggested changes that we felt were appropriate for the riding public and we are hoping to work with the advertiser to refine the copy." They went on to say that even the images that don't feature a model were not appropriate for the subway "regardless of context."

The MTA has yet to definitively reject or accept the campaign. But regardless of the final outcome, Thinx has added to the conversation about making periods un-taboo. And, while we've made big strides since the days of menstrual huts, we still have a long way to go.


Text Hana Beach
Images courtesy Thinx