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A graphic design project that critiques the most consolidated taboo in society: menstruation.

According to The Lancet magazine, in their article ‘It's Time to Talk About Menstruation’, UNICEF's alarming figures show that a third of girls in South Asia don't know what menstruation is until their menarche. In India, 12% of girls and women have access to menstruation products. In the Oscar-winning short documentary Period. End of Sentence, the shame women demonstrated when saying the word “menstruation” is shown explicitly. In the interviews with men, one group said that “menstruation is a disease that affects almost all women”.

Why is there so much desinformation about a subject as old as humans? We need to talk about menstruation and break this taboo, thus, this project.

I started out by collecting stereotypes related to the topic of menstruation, coming from my own experiences and from other women. Then, digital resources were chosen to produce the collages, which included gathering images from free image banks. When developing the project, I eventually started using the colors red and blue, relating red to menstruation and blue to the blue liquid used in tampon and pad commercials. The images and their themes were established with prompts assigned durring a subject in the Design course called Image and Representation.

The first collage produced was a woman surfing on a tampon in a sea of red. The Surfer is an image of Bethany Hamilton,
the sky and the tangerine were images downloaded from a free stock site, Unsplash.

The act of not looking at this issue, as it is a taboo, is continually maintained and is something that needs to be revised thoroughly. The less visibility, the less information we have on the subject. In this image I wanted to represent precisely the act of looking, with two people watching the destruction of a bomb, calmly with their umbrella, immersed in a menstrual cup.

The menstrual cycle is a cycle of fertility, of human reproduction—the cycle of life. Therefore, there can be fruit if that is the woman's choice. The image shows us a plantation of menstrual cups, growing from their branches, ready to be picked and used.

Embarrassed that I needed to change the tampon, I would hide it in my shirt sleeves (when it was long), or tuck it between my pants and panties, covering it with my shirt. I know many other people who are resigned to the awkward silence. But by accepting this cycle, by opening the dialogue about menstruation, the woman opens up to a spirit of sorority, because we all have something in common. And discovering that you are not alone is liberating. In the image we see women floating hand in hand, free, light and together.

Fascist Beauty is a construction of values ​​imposed on people systematically. They are standards of beauty exalted in the media, altering one’s perception of beauty. In image composition, by placing a symbol of iconic beauty, like a smiling Marilyn Monroe wearing white dress, like in pad and tampon commercials, bathed in menstrual blood, the result it's a visual paradox.

Not talking about menstruation is not talking about your own body, or being ashamed of its natural process. Not talking about menstruation is not looking at sex education and making girls and women vulnerable with ignorance. In the image, there is a female egg ready to be fertilized by sperm,  tampons.

While representing the sisterhood and female empowerment before menstruation, the image of women dancing around a drop of moon-blood came to mind. Thus, referring to a witchcraft ritual, where women were persecuted and murdered for being themselves. But by joining a group, the minority becomes a mass, allowing them to dance, even in the face of hardship.

In different languages ​​we have ways of referring to menstruation without directly saying the word. Our daily life is full of euphemisms like Red Sea, Visitor of the Month, Mother Nature, those days. In this sense, I decided to represent a calendar that numbers the days, only with pads that are filled with red spots, indicating the menstrual cycle and its flow.

As I considered the antithesis figure of speech, an essay by Gloria Steinem came to mind, “If Men Menstruated,” which contemplates systematic sexism, and what it would be like in a world in which men menstruated. The collage, based on this critique, shows an ad for absorbent panties for men and "all kinds of flows."

The female reproductive organ has been represented as several fruits on social networks and media, be the emoji from peach to a tangerine image. In the case of collage, I wanted to represent menstruation with two bouncy tangerines, splashing water (in this case blood) as seen in food commercial.

To get past the redundancy of pleonasm, I wanted to represent an image of women's daily life, without embellishing menstruation. Thus, image shows us a bloodstained pad, with a sentence written “Menstruation. In case it wasn't clear." This phrase entered the image, as throughout the creation of the collages, I showed them to friends. The women would associate right away, and men needed further explanations. So, no euphemisms. Menstruation.

This project was features on  Desvario Magazine.

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