A Thinx underwear commercial, released in October 2019, is causing controversy online and in some conservative circles because it shows men and boys getting menstrual periods, but other people think those who are outraged should get over it and aren’t grasping the meaning of the advertisement. You can watch the commercial later in this article, and decide for yourself.
Reviews were mixed, and some people were just perplexed. “I just saw the weirdest commercial for ‘Thinx’ like wtf did I just watch? ??,” wrote one person on Twitter. “What is Thinx? What an offensive commercial.Thank God I don’t have television,” wrote another.
Not everyone was offended. “Omg, freakin’ funny commercial from some company called Thinx. All the men are being shown getting pads out of the machine, loaning them to other men and even checking their butts in the mirror. It says ‘If we all had them, maybe we’d be more comfortable with them.’ I love it!” a woman wrote on Twitter.
What’s the meaning of the commercial? The company sells period resistant underwear. It appears to be trying to make the point, judging from that last line about being more comfortable, that if men had periods, it would be an easier topic for everyone to discuss. “It’s time for *every body* to get comfortable with periods. #IfWeAllHadPeriods,” Thinx tweeted about the commercial, which is part of a campaign by the company.
The commercial starts by showing a boy in a restroom who then comes downstairs. “Hey bud?” says the dad. “Hey dad, I think I got my period,” the boy tells the dad, who later tells him, “Just part of growing up.”
A man in boxer shorts rolls over in bed to reveal a period stain. You see a man hand another man a tampon under a bathroom stall. A man gets upset because there are no tampons in the bathroom dispenser. A man tells a woman he’s kissing, “I have my period,” and the woman says, “Me too.” A man checks his rear end in the mirror for a period stain, and a teenage boy is embarrassed when menstrual products fall onto the ground by his locker. A man has a tampon string hanging out of his workout shorts. “Do you have a tampon?” a man asks another man.
The controversy occurs on the heels of Always menstrual products brand dropping the Venus symbol to appeal to “gender-fluid, nonbinary, and transgender people” who menstruate, according to FastCompany.
Here’s what you need to know:
Reaction to the Thinx Commercial Is Mixed
One Million Moms, an evangelical Christian group and division of the American Family Association, states on its website that its goal is to reach moms who are “fed up with the filth many segments of our society, especially the entertainment media, are throwing at our children.” The organization is upset about the Thinx ad, saying it is pushing the concept of “MENstruation.”
“Just when you think you have seen it all, Thinx, a company that sells period-proof absorbent underwear, launches its new ad campaign titled MENstruation,” the One Million Moms group wrote on its website. “In an attempt to make everyone, especially men, more comfortable talking about a woman’s menstrual cycle, the campaign poses the question: What if we all had periods?”
One Million Moms concluded: “The concept is absurd and the commercial that is currently airing on 18 networks across the U.S. is offensive in its content and in the way that it ignores very definitive gender lines… Society does not need Thinx to normalize periods between genders by airing a commercial with such crudeness and sensationalism…It’s bizarre and confusing, and its damaging to young people who are already navigating the uncertainties of puberty amidst the constant push of liberal agendas…This commercial is insane. Women and men are different. Men do not menstruate … ever. Period.”
Others, such as LGBTNation, found the criticism out of line. The way LGBT Nation put it, Thinx “released an ad that asks what the world would be like if cisgender men had periods too, about how that would normalize it as a topic of discussion.” The site calls the 2019 Thinx commercial “a pretty innocuous ad.” The Friendly Atheist website wrote, “It has nothing to do with being transgender. It’s just a clever way to think about a subject…Dear god, the commercial wasn’t suggesting anything other than ‘Dealing with periods would be a lot easier if men had them too.’”
LGBTNation retorted to One Million Moms, “That is the point of the Thinx ad: some people don’t menstruate and we’re not used to hearing them talk about periods.”
The reaction online was mixed. Here are some of the comments people are putting on Twitter:
“The thinx commercial for period underwear might have been the most uncomfortable thing ive ever watched.”
“Omg I love the new THINX panties commercial where men have periods too! Lol”
“This is the most disturbing thing I have even seen this is on the top of the most f*cked up thing in the world I would sue these people that made this commercial i I could. Oh men who watch this beware.”
“THINX is a New York based company that makes feminine hygiene products. That is cool but this commercial is not about their products anymore but the need to push that emasculation agenda. Why are they doing this to men? What is wrong with the world? D*mn Darn It!”
Thinx has doubled down on its Instagram page, with a video clip showing the bearded man wearing boxer shorts rolling over in bed to reveal a period stain on the bed sheets.
Some of the company’s models don’t fit gender stereotypes. “Underwear for people with periods. Busting taboos,” the Instagram page profile reads. The company’s website explains of its product: “Our washable, reusable undies absorb your period and are a more sustainable solution than single-use disposable products.”
The company explains on its about me page, “(Three friends) + (some gnarly period accidents) + (100 million girls missing school just b/c of their periods) + (3.5 years of R&D) + (like, 30 badass team members) = the Thinx you know and love and bleed into today.”
Thinx Advocates for ‘Menstrual Equity’
The company is clearly not only selling a product. It’s trying to change the conversation around menstruation. One page on its website states that Thinx works toward menstrual equity.
“Our mission at Thinx is to empower *every body*, and that’s why we’re advocating for a sustainable, scalable solution to ending period poverty,” the site reads. “Together with PERIOD, we are: Demanding that every student across the United States—from grade school through college—has free and easy access to period products. Revolutionizing the way people talk and think about periods, and the challenges faced by people with them.”
There have been past controversies.
In 2017, The Cut ran a profile on Miki Agrawal, the co-founder of Thinx. The site described Thinx as a company that makes “period underwear.” The site described how Agrawal’s goal was to “(profitably) destigmatize menstruation.”
One promotional video showed her saying, “My favorite thing to talk about are the things you’re not supposed to talk about,” according to The Cut. The Cut article detailed a slew of accusations against Agrawal that were made in a complaint filed with the City of New York Commission on Human Rights. You can read those accusations and read The Cut article here. According to Vice, she left Thinx in 2017.
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