Miki Agrawal takes ‘period’ talk to New York subways, MTA gives in to public pressure

All women have periods. Not all women want breast reductions
Miki Agrawal takes ‘period’ talk to New York subways, MTA gives in to public pressure
Miki Agrawal takes ‘period’ talk to New York subways, MTA gives in to public pressure
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You would probably not have forgotten so soon about Kiran Gandi, the young Indian-origin woman who painted the London Marathon red—literally—by foregrounding menstruation and all issues associated with it. On the other side of the Atlantic, a similar story is unfolding, this time inside New York City’s iconic subway system. At the center of it is Brooklyn entrepreneur Miki Agrawal and her campaign for Thinx, an underwear specifically targeted at menstruating women.

According to a report in The New York Times, Thinx, designed by the eponymous company founded by Agrawal, is at the cusp of getting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s nod to run a series of ads advertising ‘Underwear for Women With Periods’.  MTA is in charge of the city’s massive public transport system that caters to over 11 million passengers every weekday. Thinx, a company selling leak and stain-resistant underwear for women, has sisters Miki and Radha Agrawal—of Indo-Japanese mixed parentage-- as co-founders.

The Times report quotes Agrawal as saying public pressure forced the Agency to reevaluate its earlier decision to overturn the ads since they were “too suggestive.” Two of the ads in the series, in particular, seem to have given the MTA pause—one featuring an open grapefruit and the other showing a runny egg yolk. Though the ads have won praise for their subtly refined aesthetics, the Agency seems to have had some hesitation over deciding if the Thinx ads fell in line with their advertising policy standards which regulate against ads showcasing sexual or excretory activity.

Courtesy: Thinx

“The campaign pushes the envelope with purpose, relying on suggestive imagery as a way to start a conversation about menstruation stigma,” Miki Agrawal said in another interview, “If you look, it could potentially be a vagina, but it's clearly a grapefruit.”

Clearly, Outfront Media, the agency managing MTA’s advertisements, did not think so. In an email to Agrawal, it said there was a little too much skin being shown on the ads and that the egg and the grapefruit images “seemed inappropriate.” The Agency also apparently felt that use of the word ‘period’ was a little too risqué since it may lead to children asking questions (yes, you read that right!)

Courtesy: Thinx

Though the MTA had claimed that it was only reviewing the ads and not rejected them outright, women  responded overwhelmingly positively to Thinx’s social media posts and the MTA could not have overlooked the #ImwithTHINX, #ISupportThinx and #notyourgrapefruit hashtags. “Do the right thing and approve the @shethinx ads, @MTA . Maybe use them to replace the boob job ones,” tweeted @brennybot , referencing the infamous breast augmentation ads that ran all through the city’s subways  last year and had many women commuters seething.

“Please do the right thing and approve the @shethinx ads. Hypocrisy aside, this is the USA - in 2015, not 1945! #notyourgrapefruit” user @allegra_design told the MTA.

AutobiogrphyAdvntrer (@@sarahdittmore) said: “Newsflash MTA: All women have periods. Not all women want breast reductions. Please let the @SheTHINX adds run. #NotYourGrapefruit.”

 Miki and Radha Agrawal. Source: mikiagrawal.com

In the end, along with all the public support, Agrawal’s tenacity and her unwillingness to let go has meant that the ads may finally run. The 36-year-old Brooklyn resident conceived Thinx as a sports brand. A former soccer player herself, she actually gave up a Wall Street career to play for New York Magic, till injury forced her to retire. Agrawal followed it up with a career in making commercials and music videos for the clients like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Helen Hunt. She also runs Slice Perfect, an organic pizza shop in New York City’s tonny West Village “"Just as New York City is potentially about to pass legislation to scrap the tax on feminine hygiene products, the MTA is not letting the word 'period' appear in the subway," Agrawal is reported to have told the MTA in another email, “We can objectify women in their lingerie, but the minute we acknowledge that they might be bleeding in their underwear, it's no longer acceptable. This is 2015. This is happening today. It's crazy." The News Minute has reached out to Miki Agrawal and we will update once we hear from her.

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