everyday sexism

Women’s Underwear Company Getting Hassled Over Subway Ads [Updated]

An image from the Thinx ad campaign.
An image from the Thinx ad campaign. Photo: Thinx

Thinx is a company that makes absorbent menstrual underwear and, like many companies, it wants to advertise its product. The company is currently trying to get ads on NYC subways, but the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s advertising sales partner, Outfront Media, has expressed concerns over the proposed content. The ads in question show women wearing black briefs with tank tops or turtlenecks alongside photos of either half of a vagina-looking grapefruit, or a cracked egg meant to reference the unfertilized egg that leads to menstruation. They include the tagline “underwear for women with periods” with the helpful annotation that a period is “the shedding of the uterine lining.” Seems pretty straightforward, but Outfront Media isn’t having it.

Mic reports that Outfront told Thinx CEO Miki Agrawal that the ads “seem to have a bit too much skin” and the egg and grapefruit imagery “seems inappropriate,” regardless of the context. A representative was also concerned that children would see the word “period” and ask their parents what it means. Horrors! Meanwhile, other subway ads that show much more skin have been approved. (And questionable grapefruits, too.)

Photo: Thinx

Thinx left “period” in the copy but Outfront said the campaign could not run it as is, implying that it’s inappropriate. Outfront said in a statement to Mic:

Together with our transit partners, OUTFRONT Media makes every effort to assist advertisers in creating campaigns that are both effective and appropriate to the transit environment. This is the approach that was followed with respect to the advertisements proposed by Thinx. No copy was ever rejected and the current copy is still in the MTA review process. We suggested changes that we felt were appropriate for the riding public and were hoping to work with the advertiser to refine the copy.

Let’s get this straight: mostly naked women in breast-augmentation ads? A-OK. Women wearing menstruation underwear? Not okay. Glad we cleared that up.

Update: An MTA spokesperson told the New York Times that while the decision hasn’t been announced yet, the ads will go through. “Of course they will be approved,” said the spokesperson, who asked for anonymity. Their party line is that the ads are still under review, but email screenshots Thinx posted on its Facebook page made it seem like the gatekeepers at Outfront had yet to present the ads to the MTA. We’ll believe they’ve gotten the thumbs-up when Thinx tells us so.

Women’s Underwear Company Hassled by MTA