Earlier this year, women’s underwear company Thinx created a new pair of underwear that is able to be worn during a woman’s menstruation without the need for additional protection. The product is a comfortable anti-microbial garment that can supposedly hold the equivalent of two tampons. It maintains a sleek silhouette, and it can withstand washing and reuse. So far, the product has been a major success.
Company president Miki Agrawal said, “We basically sold out of five months’ worth of stock in five weeks. That was a huge, huge breakout moment for us.”
However, the company has faced problems in advertising their product. The company tried to advertise their products on subways in New York City, but the Metropolitan Transit Authority rejected the advertisements, saying that they were too suggestive and that they might be considered to be “offensive”. This was surprising, considering that advertisements promoting women’s underwear and breast implants are common on the subway.
Many people feel that the ads were denied because they did not appeal to men.
Director of marketing for Thinx Veronica del Rosario said, “Any ad that would appeal to the male gaze was okay, but because we were by women speaking to women about women, that wasn’t okay. And when we brought that up, they said, ‘This isn’t a women’s rights issue, don’t make this a women’s rights issue.’”
That did not stop representatives of Thinx from pressing the issue. The story was quickly shared with multiple media outlets. It wasn’t long before outrage ensued. Then, all of the sudden, the subway authority changed their minds and approved the advertisements, which went on display last week.
Still, the company has continued to face scrutiny. Advertisements geared for taxis and elevators have also been rejected.
Agrawal said, “It turned out that those companies are also old boys’ clubs. Even after everything that happened with MTA, they rejected our ads because they said riders might find the ads ‘offensive’. You find the blood that created you offensive? This is very clearly a sexist double standard.”
The two media vendors that rejected the advertisements were the companies Captivate and CMT media. The CEO of Captivate Marc Kidd said that his company reached its decision after reviewing the Thinx ads in a small focus group. The results apparently showed that the advertisements were not appropriate for the setting.
Kidd said, “We have been a trusted source of content and information in office buildings and workplaces for over 15 years and have a good sense for what our building owners, business tenants and viewers consider acceptable in a business setting. My daughter and I discussed Thinx’s product, as she is a user and loves them. So I know the product is comfortable and works as advertised. Our decision was based on the creative content, which was too provocative for the workplace where our network is viewed.”
Agrawal, once again, plans to fight against this ruling.
“This is really an injustice. We’re not going to stop until there is some real equality. We are on a mission.”
Thinx does more than just simply create a useful product for women. The company also helps disadvantaged groups. For every pair of Thinx underwear that is purchased, the company donates some of the profits to AFRIpads, a company that sells affordable sanitary pads to women in Uganda. The company is also planning to market a protective underwear for women with urinary incontinence, and is planning to launch a “boy-shorts” version of its menstruation underwear that will be targeted towards transgender men.