The questions I explore in ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’, are:
Why isn’t menstruation talked about in sport?
How does menstruation effect athletes physically and mentally?
How does menstruation impact girls’ relationship with sports?
I believe these questions are extremely relevant today, as recently there has been much news coverage on football teams changing their approach to help players when they are on their periods – whether that is tracking their players’ menstrual cycle or changing the colour of their shorts to darker tones to prevent anxiety around leaking. I was particularly interested in the anxiety that periods can cause, as revealed in a report by the Football Association (FA) on Female Athlete Health; WSL players were interviewed about their thoughts on this topic. In the focus groups, practitioners reported that some players who had heavy periods were having to ‘double up’, using tampons and period pads at the same time, and that younger players (in their late teens) were more commonly experiencing heavy periods, and often leaked blood during their period as a result. One player said: ‘Girls who are having heavy periods have had to come off during warm up or at half time because they have leaked’.
I collated my research into a book titled ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’. All the images in the book are printed in red on white paper to link back to the anxiety players feel about leaking onto white shorts.For the book, I designed a typeface called ‘Protective Padding’. The typeface is inspired by football shirt fonts and the shape of sanitary pads.
When researching the typefaces used on football shirts, I noticed lots of them had lines going straight down the middle of the font. I incorporate this design feature into my typeface and use it to represent the different stages of bleeding during the menstrual cycle. When you change the weight of the font the outer line will always remain the same and the inside line will get larger/bleed out. I also interviewed some players at Fulham's women's team to hear their thoughts about how menstruation is viewed in football, I took some of the quotes and set them in my typeface 'Protective Padding'.
Once the book was completed, I explored traditional football formats to encourage a public conversation about the taboo of menstruation. I made a scarf with the Blood, Sweat and Tears tag line, a football shirt with the font printed as the shirt numbers and a banner that reads: ‘Winning even when we fail to keep a clean sheet’.