Menstruation emoji seeks to stop period stigma

A nonprofit says a new emoji could help erase the taboo against talking openly about periods.

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Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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One of the possible menstruation emoji designs. 

Plan International UK

When mentioning menstruation online, women must resort to ambiguous images if they want to use an emoji. 

For some, a dancer dressed in red, a red rose or even an erupting volcano may do. For others, those don't adequately convey "that time of the month."  

My personal favorite is the all-red angry face indicating my painful cramps and annoying PMS mood swings. But even that fuming emoji isn't spot on.

That's where the women-focused nonprofit Plan International wants to help. The organization has launched a campaign to create an official period emoji in hopes such a symbol can wash away the social stigma surrounding menstruation. 

Plan International believes an emoji representing periods would help more girls and women feel comfortable bringing up menstrual health issues via social media in a positive way. 

"Not talking about periods is having a huge impact on girls around the world," Plan International UK says on its website. "It's making them feel ashamed of their bodies, affecting their sense of self-worth and leaving them without the knowledge they need when they get their period."

In fact, Plan International UK's research this year found that half of British women age 18 to 34 surveyed said a period emoji would make it easier for them to talk about their periods with friends.

Plan International created a few possible period emoji, including a red uterus, a calendar month with blood drops, blood drops with faces and even bloody underwear (which ended up being one of the more popular designs discussed on the nonprofit's website.)

Even though Unicode Consortium, the official body that manages emoji worldwide, has yet to approve any of the designs for the next rollout of new emoji for 2019, the most likely image to be approved would probably be that of a happy-faced blood drop, which could also do double duty as an emoji for giving blood. 

"We still love our period pants -- a lot," Plan International UK posted on its website. "But we think the best way to get a period emoji now is to ask the Unicode Consortium for our blood drop to be included instead."

Last month, Plan International UK joined forces with GiveBlood NHS and submitted the emoji of the happy blood drop to Unicode Consortium.

"2019 may be the year we can finally talk about periods using emojis," Plan International tweeted last month. "The blood drop has been submitted to the official list by @PlanUK and @GiveBloodNHS #WorldEmojiDay #PeriodEmoji."

Unicode Consortium didn't immediately respond to a request for a comment.

While Plan International continues its campaign for a menstruation emoji, the charity also plans to raise money to help young women around the world who don't have adequate access to menstrual products. 

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