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Chances are you’ve seen Thinx adverts plastered in magazines or across the subway during your morning commute. You know, the underwear that can be worn during menstruation without a tampon or liner. Styles range from thongs to boyshorts and ads feature models of different colors and sizes. Its campaigns seem as progressive as its concept.
Except reports reveal that Thinx isn’t as feminist or inclusive as the brand would like to think it is.
In a story for Racked, Hilary George-Parkin explained that Thinx’s internal environment has treated its workers rather unfairly. Half-dozen Thinx employees divulged that Thinx is comprised of “a company culture in which substandard pay, flimsy benefits, and scarce perks are endured in exchange for working toward a mission they truly believe in.” Parental leave was minimal at best, communication was abysmal, and pay was considered much lower than appropriate for a company as successful as Thinx.
“It honestly felt like a middle school environment: pitting people against each other, calling us petty children and [saying that we were] immature and that we’re all these millennials that don’t know anything—meanwhile we’re being paid easily $30,000 under industry standard salaries,” one anonymous employee told Racked. “It was truly like being in an abusive relationship.” Employees on Glassdoor called former CEO Miki Agrawal “a bully,” “a time bomb and a liability,” and a “Trump-like CEO.”
After the piece ran, trans writer and speaker Tyler Ford also opened up in a Twitter thread about several uncomfortable experiences they faced during a modeling gig with Thinx. While pitching a photo shoot with Thinx, a company contact began asking Ford invasive questions about their body, insisting that Thinx “already [has] a trans model” and that Ford needed an “angle” to make them “different from [white trans man who models for us]?”
Though Ford declined to speak to the Daily Dot directly, they said on Twitter they were invited to perform at New York Fashion Week for Thinx’s “Intersection 2016” event, and the company handed Ford a pre-written script to work with that involved two transgender participants “harassing each other on stage” with back-and-forth questions about their bodies and personal lives. Ford later removed themselves from the show.
“During our time together, I was pushed on issues that I was not comfortable with (weirdest of all being my bio), and was asked personal questions about my body,” Ford wrote to Thinx director of brand Veronica del Rosario. “It became clear in our meeting that trans folks were not thought about as potential audience members for this show. I learned that my purpose here was to provide a performance of my own oppression to ‘enlighten’ cis people, instead of to simply perform my work (as every other performer seems to be doing) and uplift myself and other black trans folks.”
we get this script texted to us from (& written by) veronica. 5 mins before we meet her to discuss. cw: transphobia (screenshots) pic.twitter.com/IU9JgByCzS— Tyler Ford (@tywrent) March 14, 2017
i feel awful all day. i vent to my friends, asking for their input on how to handle this. i think, & then i write veronica an email: pic.twitter.com/izs9XHiSQL— Tyler Ford (@tywrent) March 14, 2017
For Ford, Thinx was using trans performers as a marketing opportunity. They stressed how this is wrong for the company to do, and how it invalidates trans experiences. “I’m tired of having to dredge up the foulest experiences of abuse to put on a performance about transness for cis folks,” Ford wrote in a tweet.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.