BUST Review: THINX Underwear For Women With Periods

by Jules Abraham

If you’ve been within 10 feet of a billboard on the NYC subway line for the past few months, you’ve undoubtedly caught THINX brand’s cheeky and controversial ad campaign, featuring for one, a peeled blood orange to sell their line of menstrual underwear. My first sight of an 8-foot-high evocation of a bloody vagina towering over the masses in a local L Train station elicited a loud and audible cackle. It was a well-timed and much needed retribution to another local company using citrus fruit in subway ads to allude to a woman’s body in recent months – only that company sought to encourage the local lady-folk to stuff plastic bubbles into their chests where THINX was offering a low cost, sustainable solution to a monthly necessity. After months of angrily glaring at breast augmentation ads that suggest clementines are not nearly good as grapefruits in your bra and cheering at the sticker-graffiti activism, THINX’s sanctioned retort to over–sexualization of women in advertising really caught my eye. I thought, “These people are smart. I like smart people, and I like my vagina. Let’s put them together.”

blood orange
THINX 2015 Ad Campaign

I have generally always leaned more towards the free-bleeding, Inga Muscio CUNT status blood towel tied around the legs. At home I keep a DIY set of dark, thick, $10 leggings and terry shorts on hand coupled with a set of cotton panties I don’t care about. Post flow, I throw them in a separate laundry load, double wash on scalding, and I’m good to go. Obviously, I can’t rock that ensemble in public if I want to keep my cycle status discreet and not bleed all over the clothes I love. For convenience sake, (though I have known better for years), I usually go with one of the two nearly ubiquitous options – the tampon or pad. Both of which I generally hate. I am a busy broad with an extra sensitive, germaphobic, va-jay. Tampons move around. The slow creep of a ‘pon that wasn’t stuck quite deep enough, sliding down the vagina to prairie dog and chaff the labium when you can’t stick a hand down your pants to adjust it is comparable, for me, to nails on a chalk board. Plus, the thought of anything my fingers have come across in NYC during the course of the day being anywhere near my vagina sends tingles up my spine – even if I’ve washed my hands super well before yanking out a maxed out cotton blood plop. If I wear pads, the swamp butt puts me in an extra snarly mood by the end of the day. Buying both out-in-public options usually leaves me in that scenario where I’m awkwardly informing a store clerk of my cycle status as they ring me up at the drugstore counter. Then I’m caught imagining them imagining my bloody vagina. Not into it. Lastly, back to referencing Muscio, monthly handing over cash to corporations whose respect for both safety and women are actively up for debate, is an unsettling feeling. Just take a Google-tour of popular OB tampon manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson’s past with flow discrimination, the horrific transvaginal mesh cases or the news that broke just this week that they have known their talc products were linked to ovarian cancer as far back as 1997. These cavalier business ethics don’t make me excited to pop one of their products into my body.

this insults women sticker

this insults women sticker on subway ad

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes by Dan Wynn for Esquire. Photo of Doctor’s Plastic Surgery Ad originally appeared in the Village Voice.

When the opportunity to test out a set of THINX arose, I considered it high time. I tested a set of two black and two nude hip huggers because they offered the maximum capacity of two whole ‘pons a piece. This was very sage forethought on my part because the weekend of the great flood I was on my way up to Boston to hang out with The Lady Project. Meaning this test drive was going to take a sharp turn from ‘just a regular ‘ole day’ to ‘Jane Bond 007’ on the activity scale. I threw them on in the morning and was pretty dang satisfied with the fit. As a more luscious lady, I appreciated the stretchy lace trim which ensured I would not have muffin tops galore spilling out of my jeans while meeting new people. They are a little bit of a thicker pantie, but nothing more extreme than a bathing suit thickness. There was, however, a tight horizontal seam that holds the bottom bit of the panty in place that was a little noticeable. If you’ve worn pads, it is very reminiscent to that.

The THINX hip hugger valiantly kept its word of being leakless as I slingshot around the city. That included up and down stairs at multiple T stations, running a loop around Boston Common, exploring a loft in Chinatown and even a short bike ride. The moisture wicking was true to its word, and all the blood plops discharged throughout the day were sucked into the vortex of whatever clever system is neatly sewn within the crotch of the hip hugger. After a full eight hours of gallivanting, the only symptom was a little fullness, so I swapped out a pair.

All and all, the THINX system easily solved all the past inconvenient compromises of tampons, pads and even my DIY set of menstrual-wear. I didn’t have to suffer the irritation and questionable hygiene of the tampon. There was zero swamp butt effect like with pads. Having the THINX set on hand saved me from having to stop what I was doing and head to a drugstore. So three of the four vital necessities on the checklist for a menstrual solution were hit head on.

The last question I had was, “who is getting my dollars and what are they doing with them?” I was glad I asked. CEO and founder Miki Agrawal is a prolific entrepreneur and down lady. One of her many collaborative feats involves funneling a portion of the cost of each pair of THINX panties sold into a Ugandan sister organization, AFRIpads. This company works to produce reusable menstrual pad kits particularly marketed to young women and girls attending school who face cost (among other) barriers to effective menstrual solutions that lead to frequent and unnecessary missed days in the classroom. Well, that is fantastic.

Take a look at THINX’s CEO talking about sustainable menstrual products and let BUST know what you think about this topic or the THINX solution:

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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