The concept behind Thinx underwear, as I understand it, is simple: they’re absorbent and you can bleed right into them. It’s like a very sexy, menstruation-oriented set of Depends. That shouldn’t be a recipe for success, but they seem to be doing fine, in large part because the public relations and branding around these period undies is as distinctive as a song, as effervescent as a soap bubble, as relentlessly upbeat as an Avon lady on a mountain of uppers. I’m trying to say they send me a lot of fucking emails, each one its own tiny, deranged treasure.
Thinx founder Miki Agrawal has made herself into the preeminent tycoon of Shark Week, disrupting menstruation and the padded underwear biz while employing an explicitly feminist marketing strategy. She’s known for giving exuberant, loopy interviews to places like New York magazine, exulting in taboo-busting and boundary-breaking. (My favorite detail in that piece is when Agrawal “audibly urinated” and then flushed while she was on the phone with the magazine’s fact checker.)
So it makes sense that the emails from Thinx also employ the company’s signature brand of aggressive, pop-feminism-imbued whimsy. They’re all signed by the Thinx’s PR lady, who is named Chelsea, and who is often referred to in her signature line as the company’s “high priestess of period PR.” The first time I got one I nearly choked.
For some reason these delightful missives are only being sent to me, not to the rest of the Jezebel staff or our tips account. Let me paint a picture for you of the first time I got one of these things: I was at my desk. It was April. I was not ready.
Here it is:
Hey pretty lady,
Wanted to give you the quick low-down on a super fun, *hopefully monthly* event we’re kicking off this week! You know how women get paid 78 cents less than men in the US because of the #patriarchy!? Well, we’re doin’ a happy hour at Pinks in the East Village where women pay 78 cents on the dollar for their dranks! It’s our lil’ way of stickin’ it to the man while slurpin’ up some alch.
Plz join THINX for the Gender Gap Happy Hour!
Wednesday, April 6th
242 E. 10th St.
All well drinks, beers, & a *speciality* feminist cocktail are 34% off (78 cents on the dollar) for ladies! Dudes — deal w your full price bevies #srynotsry.
No need to formally RSVP, just hope to see ya there! Feel free to bring your gal pals to get mildly sloshed on a Wednesday in the name of feminism! ...& if you want to cover it — even better! :)
This is an incredible piece of writing, and its effect on me has been surprisingly durable. I’ll be in a crowded, wholly inappropriate public place sometimes—subway, sidewalk, in the stirrups at the doctor’s office— and it’ll come into my mind.
Slurpin’ up some alch, I’ll think helplessly, as I start to giggle, #srynotsry.
I truly didn’t think it would be possible for Chelsea to keep up this level of output, but by God, she has. From May, a pitch to cover Thinx’s new subway ads:
Super stoked to have you be one of the first to know about the brand spankin’ new THINX campaign, unveiling at Union Square station on 5/17! We ask that you don’t publish this news until the launch date of 5/17, but we wanted to give you the scoop ahead of time. This station domination will be the gallery experience we’ve become synonymous with, ala the Bedford, Grand Central, Broadway/Lafayette stops, & brand train.
Here are a couple of snackable takeaways from our new campaign:
You don’t need to know what the snackable takeaways are, only that this is the most normal email from Chelsea I’ve ever received. The next one came the next day, and it included a word that I have never been able to shake from my vocabulary:
Wanted to give you the deets on our SECOND installment of our #gendergap happy hour! You know how women get paid 78 cents less than men in the US because of the #patriarchy!? Well, April’s event was so successful that we’re doin’ it & doin’ it & doin’ it again at Pinks in the East Village where women pay 78 cents on the dollar for their dranks! It’s our lil’ way of stickin’ it to the man while slurpin’ up some alch.
It is at this point that I began forwarding these emails to the rest of the Jezebel staff. It is also when I began referring to them as “squirrelfran” without being able to stop. Please help me stop.
This next one is about outer space, kind of, and I have to show you a screenshot because I don’t think I can really do it justice.
I didn’t get my astronaughty booty anywhere and I never will, but once again, this shit made my day. It’s a new genre of writing, as far as I’m concerned. Call it Girl Power Empowerment Feminism Yass Queen, but as if it were generated by a Twitter bot that only follows Lena Dunham and Buzzfeed.
This next one is basically some kind of #synergistic marketing for a partnership of...some kind... between Thinx and a doctor’s office. I’m sorry. They don’t call themselves a doctor’s office. They call themselves a place for “holistic high tech medicine.”
It should not surprise you that Thinx eventually began partnering with Lululemon, and that Chelsea politely pretends that everybody she’s emailing is very beautiful, and that we really want to write about the exciting field of ideas where semi-translucent yoga pants and spongelike underwear meets.
One time, our managing editor got an email about an open letter Agrawal wanted to get published about feminism. We passed. I’m not sure where it ended up. Chelsea was not in the least displeased or put out, inviting us to a “badass brunch salon” that offered both free drinks and “girl power vibes.”
I am not ever going to write about Thinx. I am not ever going to stop being delighted—sincerely, and not in a mean way— by these emails. Never change, Chelsea. My PR professional, my inbox buddy, and... dare I say... my squirrelfran.