Not a Cash Flow: Banning the Tampon Tax Poster

For me, "designing for good" meant the opportunity to make a difference. After all, I'm one of the odd people who bee-lined towards a career in advertising. I loved the possibilities in creative problem-solving. So what better problem to discuss than the bizarre tax on menstruation products plaguing the USA?

As of this writing, did you know that in 27 of the 50 United States menstrual products are being taxed? This means that those states deem menstruation as a luxury while pixie sticks, tattoos and erectile dysfunction pills (aka Viagra) are not. And those who are low-income continue to struggle with whether to buy food or period products; this means on a monthly basis they're dealing with the possibility of losing their job, not going to school or risk of infection.

This is crazy! And while periods are part of a woman's normal life, this topic is not culturally discussed. So how could I invoke an eye-opening, thought-provoking dialogue around this issue with a simple poster?

I began to write down phrases that stuck out to me about periods and cash, then created a mind map to really get the juices flowing. Between the lingo about your period and phrases on how we discuss money, there was something there.

I also looked at what was previously done - some work with dollar bills rolled up like tampons, tampons clenched in raised fists, and my personal favorite was the use of large red dots or the absence of them as an abstract version of the period.

Then I began to sketch and think about how to connect the two worlds; how tampons are inserted with how we put coins in piggy banks; the timing of periods and cash payments; those who are forced to choose between their period and eating. I took my favorites, did some super rough comps in Photoshop, and then began to cut.

Paper cutting this poster added a lightheartedness to a tough subject. And it gave it some dimensionality that I'm not sure I'd have been able to achieve digitally. Most importantly, the men in my classroom were comfortable talking about an issue that most adult men are not.

I'm also happy to report that when I created the poster, Michigan was in the process of repealing their tampon tax. Only 27 states to go.

More sources/details here:

Period Equity Tampon Tax Revenues & Budget

Period Equity

Tax Free Period

Tampon Tax State-by-State Guide (please click links within the article as it is not consistently updated)

Global Citizen (also, please double-check links for updated information)