A new period emoji has been announced (woohoo!) and it’s bloody brilliant. Here’s why, how it will help to combat period stigmas and what it means for our campaigns against tampon tax and period poverty.
The amazing Plan International UK recently launched a petition to secure the creation of a brand new period emoji. We already have some pretty obscure emojis, from a poo with eyes (which to be fair is everyone’s favourite) to a heart wrapped up as a present. Now, as much as some somewhat less cynical people may enjoy receiving pretty hearts in a bow, why can’t we use an emoji that reflects the actual life experiences of over half the world’s population while opening up vital conversations about our bodies? Well, in the next few weeks, we can. Having gained 50,000 signatures, Unicode agreed to develop a beautiful new politically charged periodmoji (now that’s a sentence you won’t hear everyday!).
This victory is important. The addition of a shiny new red period droplet to our keyboards changes narratives around menstruation. This droplet will help to normalise conversations about periods on an everyday basis, amongst people across the globe. That’s massive.
Talking about periods is vital to ensuring that periods don’t continue to hold people back. Recently, Plan International UK found that almost half of menstruating pupils in the UK have missed school because they’re embarrassed about their period. Freedom4Girls found that 10% do so simply because they don’t have access to period products. This is nothing new. This situation has been ongoing for generations. It’s only now that we’ve decided to speak up about it. Unicode’s new periodmoji will help everyone to smash the period taboo and ensure that nobody is held back by the very functioning of their body.
But what good is speaking up? And can we really change anything with an emoji? Well, our campaigns against tampon tax and period poverty have already highlighted the problems we’ve struggled with in silence for generations. And governments ARE listening. From campaigners securing the end of tampon tax across the globe, from India to the USA, to countries like Scotland funding schemes that provide free period products in schools and public spaces (go Scotland!). Speaking up makes a real difference. It changes narratives and tangibly solves problems.
This new periodmoji will do a bloody brilliant job in ensuring those who menstruate feel they belong not only in their own bodies but in the public sphere in general. Removing the shame from talking about periods vicariously removes the shame from periods: a shame that makes no sense whatsoever (am I right?) and yet it has held society back. One period emoji can’t rectify that on its own. But it can legitimise the voices that speak up about periods, everywhere. That includes your voice, wherever and whoever you are. That’s pretty bloody brilliant!
Laura Coryton is an author and campaigner and leader of the #EndTamponTax campaign