Canadian conceptual artist Annelies Hofmeyr is on a bloody mission.
In early 2015, Hofmeyr posted an eight-second video on Instagram in which she danced around in leopard print leggings that were artfully styled to recreate what we’ll call, for the sake of brevity, an external free bleed. Instagram, however, said the video was in violation of its Community Guidelines—because #thepatriarchy.
So Hofmeyr decided to hit back with “The Period Project,” through which she now shares a period-related piece of some kind every month on her social media accounts. Highlights of #ThePeriodProject include everything from My Little Ponies made from tampons to a necklace featuring a uterus constructed out of nails.
But my personal favorite? Her proposed period emoji, which seek to clearly and directly show your flow like it is: Included in the suggested emoji set are pads ranging from fresh-out-of-the-package to spotted to dripping with menses, as well as a tampon, a menstrual cup, and an anatomically correct uterus and ovaries.
I’d love to see Hofmeyr’s emoji brought to life, since they seem to be nothing short of revolutionary, especially after the sorta controversial attempt at #femoji from the U.K.-based menstrual product company Bodyform earlier this year. One major problem with the Bodyform #femoji? The way they perpetuated weird gender stereotypes and went full-out in implying that women are pretty crazy looking when they’re on their periods.
Which is why Hofmeyr’s emoji are such a breath of fresh air, creating a clear-cut visual shorthand that show exactly what periods are and entail, without the subjective projections of emotion or retro gender norms suggesting periods make women crazy. Periods, Hofmeyr’s emoji show, are simply a biological function, and how you choose to physically manage your own period blood is up to you: Pads, tampons, cups, free-bleeding—it’s all good.
Hofmeyr recently channeled her period activism into a second, newly launched campaign called Trophy Wife Barbie. The Instagram-based project has already gained more than 14,000 followers, as Hofmeyr depicts this plastic symbol of conventional femininity snarling her way through urinary tract infections, wearing dresses made from panty liners alongside her friends (‘cause, duh, their cycles are synched), and taking selfies with euphemisms for menstruation. (Oh, and she also breastfeeds, has feathery pink pubic and armpit hair, and has to deal the injustice of unsolicited dick pics, too.)
So please, Annelies Hofmeyr, if you can hear me: Keep making your art, keep talking about periods, and keep showing that women’s bodies can exist in the absence of heteronormative male sexuality—and please bring your emoji to our digital universe. Because we’re here, we bleed, get over it.
Jen Gerson Uffalussy is a regular contributor to Fusion. She also writes about reproductive and sexual health/policy for Glamour, and television for The Guardian. She lives in Atlanta.