Period-proof underwear ads have been deemed too racy for the New York City subway, it has recently been reported.
The images included in the ad campaign were meant to promote THINX absorbent menstrual underwear, with the underlying aim of “breaking the taboo around menstruation”.
While undergoing review by Outfront Media, the company which regulates advertising for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the ads were considered inappropriate, and they haven’t yet been approved.
It appears that last week regulators expressed concern over the hypersexualized content of THINX’s print advertising, and sent back the proposed designs.
Some of the ads depict women dressed in black briefs and turtlenecks or tank tops, while others include images of cracked eggs or grapefruit. The cracked egg is meant to be a metaphor which illustrates the unfertilized egg causing menstruation, while the grapefruit seems to reference female anatomy.
The photos are accompanied by the tag line “underwear for women with periods”, with several annotations explaining that these products are superior to others of this kind and that they’re especially designed for menstruation.
The copy even explains this process as the “shedding of the uterine lining”, for further clarification, and it also includes the company’s name and website.
While the ads may seem relatively tame compared to many promotional messages being broadcast nowadays, Outfront Media explained to THINX CEO Miki Agrawal that in fact the ads aren’t suitable for being displayed publicly.
According to the regulators, the images seem to have “a bit too much skin”, while the food imagery “seems inappropriate”, due to its alleged sexual innuendo. Moreover, Outfront representatives have expressed their fears that young kids might see the word “period” and have their parents explain this to them.
As a result, they have suggested changing the ad, in order to make it more “appropriate for the riding public” by refining its content.
In response, THINX has kept the supposedly deeply offensive term in the ad, and for now the copies’ suitability for being displayed by the MTA is still being reviewed.
This decision has spurred the indignation of many, who have accused Outfront Media of promoting double standards.
For example, breast-augmentation ads featuring large cleavages or topless women whose chests are suggestively covered by the word “BIG” have been approved, unlike these new copies which seem much tamer in comparison.
Other commercials that have been prominently displayed in the New York subway have shown women in skimpy bikinis promoting weight loss products, and commuters have even seen print ads showing the faces of a couple engaged in sexual intercourse.
Also, regulators have previously approved ads for the movie “50 Shades of Grey”, as well as for exhibitions at the Museum of Sex.
“I stated that it was extremely disheartening that [certain ads] could fly, but something for women that speaks directly to women isn’t OK by them”, declared Veronica del Rosario, THINK’s marketing director.
In response, Outfront, whose sales force and executive board is predominantly male, urged del Rosario not to try to turn the issue into “a women’s rights thing”.
It may be that menstruation continues to be viewed as something shameful and dirty, causing regulators to avoid any imagery that might evoke this natural process.
While the campaign may have been considered as provocative by some, its purpose was precisely to spark debate about an absolutely normal occurrence that remains stigmatized and carefully swept under the rug.
MTA standards specify that ads illustrating “sexual or excretory activities” are strictly forbidden, just like those which reference a “sexually oriented business”.
Given the fact that THINX’s ads simply promote menstrual products, it doesn’t seem like any rules were broken. In spite of this, the chances that the campaign will eventually be approved remain slim, as Outfront continues to view it as suggestive and lewd.
Image Source: Twitter