Can emojis break the taboo surrounding menstruation?

The taboo surrounding menstruation affects individuals of all ages and genders. Women, men, tweens and grandmas probably aren’t jumping at the idea of talking about periods. How can we change that?

A person’s first period often still comes as a surprise and can be difficult to talk about. However the taboo surrounding menstruation can extend far into a person’s lifetime. Research conducted by Plan International found that, “Seven out of 10 women said they felt uncomfortable talking about their period with their male co-workers. And only one in three women felt happy to speak about it to their female bosses. At school, almost half reported feeling ashamed to speak to their female teachers and 75% said they wouldn’t discuss it with their male teachers.” (The Guardian)

Recently, we have seen women take action and speak out about the taboo surrounding menstruation. For example Kiran Gandhi, a musician and Harvard Business School graduate, ran the London Marathon free bleeding on her period. And athletes Jazmin Sawyers and Fu Yuanhui both publicly discussed how menstruating while competing affected their performances. However, the conversation surrounding menstruation is still not largely discussed in the public sphere. So, could emojis be a part of the solution?

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Online conversations have transformed the way we communicate. “More than 92% of the online population use emojis every day to communicate between friends and across cultures.” (The Guardian) The casual conversational tone of texting and emojis could help break down the stigma surrounding menstruation and allow individuals to feel more comfortable speaking about it, in an everyday setting.

There are over 1,000 emojis on an iPhone. The new iOS system can even convert your words into emojis. Want to roll your eyes at someone? There is an emoji for that. Want to talk about certain bodily functions, yep there is a smiley poop emoji. But still there are no emojis representing menstruation in any way. So hey Apple if you are reading this, what about a tampon emoji, or someone grasping for their stomach to represent the pains of period cramps?

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In a technology filled world, maybe emojis can be one of the ways we start to change the way we publicly talk about menstruation.

Ellebox exists to create conversation, and education surrounding menstrual health.

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