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Were Thinx Underwear Ads Nixed Because They Used the Word 'Period'?

Thinx

You may catch ads for breast augmentation or how to score a beach body on your morning commute, but New Yorkers won't be seeing any for period panties. Thinx, a company that sells absorbent menstruation underwear and is committed to breaking the taboo around menstruation, recently launched a provocative marketing campaign to raise awareness for both their product and their cause: ending period stigma. The proposed ads feature women alongside photos of half of a peeled grapefruit (which bears a striking resemblance to a vagina) or a cracked egg (referring to the unfertilized eggs menstruation releases) and read: "Underwear for women with periods." They also include a short explanation of what exactly a period is (you know, in case you forgot). (For more info on what's really going on, check out Your Brain On: Your Menstrual Cycle.)

Sounds innocent enough, right? After all, at any given point, a woman around you is likely on her period—and very few people talk about menstruation openly. Instead, we whisper secretly in office bathrooms or relegate conversations on the topic to our annual ob-gyn appointment.

Well, Outfront Media—the company in charge of much of New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Agency's (MTA) advertising—recently rejected Thinx's application to host ads in subways. The reasoning, according to an interview of Outfront Media by Mic: suggestive imagery and excessive amount of skin the ads show. According to MTA guidelines, ads that show "sexual or excretory activities" or endorse any kind of "sexually-oriented business" are prohibited.

OK, we get the excretory thing (kind of?), but we're still trying to figure out how exactly Thinx, a company hoping to change menstrual care, falls into this category. These are bodily actions, people! And far racier images—like, ahem, those for exhibits at New York's Museum of Sex—plaster the walls of what feels like every train.

Our biggest issue: Part of the offense may actually be that these ads highlight the word "period." And according to Thinx's director of marketing, certain Outfront Media representatives were concerned that children would see the word and ask their parents what it meant (heaven forbid!).

Outfront Media has emphasized that it hasn't rejected the ads outright, but rather just won't display them in their current state. That said, these period panties may not even need the added publicity—they've already sold through what they thought would last a year and a half.

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