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Courtesy of THINX

Why this panty ad was too racy for the subway

Period-proof underwear company THINX claims a mostly male board deemed its ads 'inappropriate' for the NYC transit system

While advertisements bombard us with images of scantily-clad women on a daily basis, there is still a fine line between what is OK and what isn’t. And apparently, for the New York City Subway, that line is the word “period” and a peeled half-grapefruit.

Ads for THINX, a brand of period-proof underwear, were rejected by the advertising contractor for the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) after being deemed inappropriate. The ad in question, features images of women (wearing full-covered underwear, tank tops and turtlenecks) juxtaposed with a grapefruit and an egg out of its shell. The slogan states that the underwear is for women or “any menstruating human” with periods or “shedding of the uterine lining”.

A representative for Outfront Media allegedly told THINX CEO Miki Agrawal that the models “seem to have a bit too much skin” and that the egg and fruit seemed “inappropriate”. 

“We suggested changes that we felt were appropriate for the riding public and were hoping to work with the advertiser to refine the copy,” the company told Slate in a statement.

“We said, excuse you?” Thinx’s CEO Miki Agrawal told am New York. “You allow breast augmentation ads where they show little oranges as an OK ad to show? We have a grapefruit in a more subtle way, and you’re saying that is suggestive. That’s absolutely not OK, that’s a double standard.”

The irony of course is that while it’s socially acceptable for ads to feature women in sexualised poses, to refer to the menstrual cycle – something which half the world’s population experiences at some point in their lives – is still taboo.

“We live in a patriarchal society,” Agrawal told Refinery 29, elaborating on this theme. “The period conversation makes them uncomfortable,” she said, explaining why “there’s such a double standard with what’s allowed to be up there.”

And, as is evident from Outfront Media’s website, all of their sales representatives and five out of seven members of its leadership team are men. Agrawal claims that in an email dialogue with the company, they were told not to make this a “women’s issue” or a “women’s rights thing”.