A new red blood droplet emoji is being hailed as “revolutionary” by health workers and advocates who hope the symbol will help reduce the shame of periods for young women.
But others have criticised the design of the new symbol, arguing it is only a half measure.
The emoji was one of several released this week by the Unicode Consortium, the body that maintains and regulates emojis.
Emoji will help reduce shame and stigma
Lamanda Ballard, founder of Flo Code, a non-profit that provides menstruation products to poor communities in Texas, said the emoji will help reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation.
“An emoji may seem minor to other people, but it started a conversation,” she said.
“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.”
Plan International UK began work on the emoji in 2017 after finding that 48% 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 from Plan International told The Guardian.
Popular design rejected
The new emoji hasn’t come without controversy.
Plan International organised a public vote on the final design of the emoji, with five symbols as options.
They included a sanitary pad, a monthly calendar, a uterus and smiling blood droplets.
A pair of period pants won the contest, but the Unicode Consortium rejected the design.
Instead, Plan worked with the NHS Blood and Transplant organisation to share their proposed design – a red blood droplet.
For NHS, the blood droplet represents blood donation – not menstruation.
Lamanda Ballard was one who was disappointed with the compromise, describing the decision as hypocritical.
“They think, ‘Oh bloody panties in an emoji is too much,’ but then they have a poop emoji,” she said.
“How is one thing worse than another? A period is completely natural.”
Writer and PhD student Megan Vaughan told The Guardian that she believed the drop of blood emoji “feels like a half measure”.
“The red droplet still has this sense of shame about it. Like it wants to talk about periods but not in too open a way, not in the kind of way that might offend delicate, largely male, sensibilities,” she said.
The bottom line
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims welcomed the new emoji.
“Look it may not be perfect, but anything that can remove shame around something as normal as menstruation is a good thing,” he said.
“The best way to end shame and stigma around something is to talk about it – and if this new symbol helps young women -and men – talk about periods, and realise they are just a normal part of life, then I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
If you have experienced discrimination based on your sex or gender, or based on an impairment like period pain, endometriosis or severe morning sickness, you may be entitled to compensation.
Please call our team at Discrimination Claims today on
1300 853 837
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