Story at a glance
- Stigma surrounding periods can hinder important conversations about reproductive health and period poverty.
- The Pill Club has started a petition to add several emojis representing menstruation and reproductive health.
- The new emojis include a birth control pill pack, tampon and uterus.
“Maybe this is TMI, but it shouldn’t be” started Liz Meyerdirk, CEO of the Pill Club. Still, the mother of three and head of a birth control company hesitated to ask a male concierge for help when she needed menstrual products during a recent trip. Like many other people with uteruses, she wondered, how would they react? Would they even know how to help?
“It’s not a part of that everyday conversation. It’s just not there yet,” said Meyerdirk.
“Until we as a society can make space and communicate about things as basic and simple as women’s health — it shouldn’t be TMI.”
So, the Pill Club decided to take a look at where those conversations were happening — over text. The company is petitioning UNICODE, Slack and other developers to add emojis of a birth control pill pack, tampon and uterus drafted up by the company. The petition has almost reached its goal of 200 signatures, with supporters saying “birth control is not talked about enough.”
“It is so valuable to be able to capture something so effective in everyday language and everyday communication and so I think the emojis are so incredibly powerful,” said Meyerdirk, adding that “with so much of our conversations having over text it just felt very appropriate.”
Sixty percent of people in a recent survey said they believe menstruation and reproductive health are still widely stigmatized. In a survey of their social media followers, the Pill Club found that nearly half of their followers were embarrassed to talk about their cramps or ask for a tampon — but almost 90 percent of them would be interested to see an emoji that addresses menstruation and reproductive health on their keyboards.
Not all of the conversations about reproductive health and menstruation are easy. People with uteruses are at high risk for conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but many of them don’t know to seek treatment or a diagnosis. Removing the stigma from conversations like these can also help end problems like period poverty, which burdens 1 in 10 college students. It all has to start somewhere — and maybe that’s an emoji.
As for them, the Pill Club is starting to confront these issues at home with progressive leave policies for people with uteruses, including paid pregnancy, pregnancy loss and maternity leave.
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