The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the abortion rights group and health care provider, recently announced that "Pillamina" would trail Mitt Romney on his bus tour through swing states this summer. Pillamina is a human-sized costume that looks like a huge pack of birth control pills.
She's following Romney because, he "has clearly said that not only was Griswold v. Connecticut not decided correctly, but that he opposes President Obama’s birth control benefit, which will lower costs for millions of American women," Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards said in a statement. "The bottom line is that access to birth control is an economic issue for women. Period. That’s something that President Obama clearly understands, and that Mitt Romney simply doesn’t."
Eric Ferrero, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's vice president of communications, answered a few questions about Pillamina and her journey.
Who designed the Pillamina costume?
The costume was created years ago by a costumer, and was used off and on at different events by Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers.
How did she come about?
In 2010, the Pillamina character was created for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s “Birth Control Matters” campaign, designed to spread the word about birth control as basic preventive health care and support the no-co-pay birth control provision of the Affordable Care Act. She was dubbed “Pillamina” in her first video, a Gossip Girl spoof.
In 2010 and 2011, the Planned Parenthood Action fund released a series of three videos starring Pillamina (“Birth Control Girl,” “Pillamina Returns,” and “Planned Parenthood Goes Bollywood”) — the last one was one of The Daily Show’s “Moments of Zen” last year!
What's it made of? How is it engineered?
The costume is thick foam covered with a stretchy, polyester-type material; the pills are plastic and cardboard.
What’s it like to wear? How much does it weigh? Is it hot to wear in the summer?
The costume is not that heavy, but it doesn’t bend very much (so sitting down can be difficult!) and it does get hot in the summer.
Who will be wearing the costume?
Planned Parenthood Action Fund volunteers and activists around the country wear the costume at events in their community. When Mitt Romney has events, our local affiliates call to request Pillamina. We send them the costume, and one of their supporters or staff members wears it to help draw attention to Mitt Romney’s positions on birth control.
Pillamina represents the 34 percent of women voters in America who report struggling with the cost of birth control and the vast majority of Americans who support providing birth control at low or no cost, so it’s fitting that she have a different face at each stop across the country.
How many were made?
There is only one Pillamina. She’s an original.
Any tips on how to DIY one's own version?
Look into breathable material?
Were other forms of birth control considered?
The pill is one of the most popular birth control methods in the U.S., but there are lots of contraception options for women to choose from: an IUD can provide protection for up to 12 years and the ring or shot can provide protection for several weeks or months; condoms are the only birth control method that can also protect against STDs.
Although women have many birth control options, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has only one birth control costume: the easily recognizable pill pack.