Emoji to sym­bol­ise men­stru­a­tion

Deccan Chronicle - - World -

Lon­don, Feb. 9: A ‘rev­o­lu­tion­ary’ emoji, an im­por­tant step in re­duc­ing the stigma around men­stru­a­tion, has hit the in­ter­net.

The car­toon red blood droplet – an emoji meant to sym­bol­ise men­stru­a­tion – is po­et­i­cally sym­bolic to the mes­sage be­ing pop­u­larised by ‘Plan In­ter­na­tional UK’ that pe­ri­ods aren’t shame­ful. The or­gan­i­sa­tion be­gan work on the emoji in 2017 after find­ing that 48 per­cent of girls and women in the UK be­tween the ages of 14 and 21 are em­bar­rassed by their pe­ri­ods.

“End­ing the shame around pe­ri­ods be­gins with talk­ing about it,” Lucy Rus­sell, the head of girls’ rights and youth at ‘Plan In­ter­na­tional UK’ said.

Plan or­gan­ised a pop­u­lar vote on the de­sign of the sym­bol, with five op­tions, in­clud­ing a san­i­tary pad, a monthly cal­en­dar, smil­ing blood droplets and a uterus. A pair of “pe­riod pants” even­tu­ally won the con­test, but Uni­code Con­sor­tium, the body that main­tains and reg­u­lates emo­jis, re­jected the choice.

Even­tu­ally, Plan part­nered with ‘NHS Blood and Trans­plant’ to share that or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pro­posed new emoji: a red blood droplet. (For NHS Blood and Trans­plant, the car­toon “rep­re­sents the im­por­tance of blood do­na­tion” and not men­stru­a­tion).

“An emoji may seem mi­nor to other peo­ple, but it started a con­ver­sa­tion,” said La­manda Bal­lard, founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for ‘Flo Code,’ a non-profit based in Austin, Texas, that pro­vides men­stru­a­tion prod­ucts to un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties.

“Where you once would have been shunned for grab­bing a box of tam­pons at a store, we’re now in a place where we can have this open con­ver­sa­tion on­line.”

But some, in­clud­ing Bal­lard, found the com­pro­mise dis­ap­point­ing. Bal­lard pointed out the gen­eral hypocrisy of get­ting squea­mish over a pair of white panties show­ing a few drops of blood.

■ 40% of UK girls have had to use toi­let roll be­cause they can’t af­ford proper san­i­tary prod­ucts.

■ Al­most 70% of girls in the UK aren’t al­lowed to go to the toi­let dur­ing school les­son time.

■ 48% of girls in the UK aged be­tween

14 and 21 are em­bar­rassed by their pe­ri­ods

■ Not talk­ing about pe­ri­ods is hav­ing a huge im­pact on girls, mak­ing them feel ashamed of their bod­ies, af­fect­ing sense of self-worth and leav­ing them with­out the knowl­edge they need when they get their first pe­riod.

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