In search of a better female symbol

Juniper Park\TBWA’s design studio Le Parc wants to make a symbolic change to mark International Woman’s Day.

The agency is asking women to provide suggestions to replace the familiar female symbol which, the agency says, “has been used widely since the 16th century, but has a dubious past.”

The simple circle and plus-sign symbol is believed to be inspired by the planet Venus, “The Goddess of Beauty.” Later a French scholar named Joseph Justus Scaliger claimed that it represented the goddesses’ hand mirror.

Neither feels particularly empowering or representative of women in 2020, and that’s why Le Parc wants a new symbol.

“We wanted to do something for International Women’s Day, and a lot of ideas were more advertising driven,” said Nathalie Cusson, creative director of design. Then she remembered how much she disliked the female symbol.

Cusson mistakenly thought it was a symbol representing female fertility, with the circle representing a woman’s head and the plus sign representing a child below. “I didn’t like the fact we were identified as that, but then I was wrong,” she said. “When someone said it was a hand mirror I was like ‘Nooooo.'”

Even if they are just myths, those myths were created by men. “I thought there’s a good idea to maybe have it redone by a woman, as opposed to a man deciding where it comes from,” said Cusson.

They considered doing it in-house before opting to ask all women to provide their own suggestions.

A call is going out on social media with a video explaining the initiative. Anyone can post their suggestions using the hashtag #NotAMirror2020. On March 15 Le Parc will review any submissions using the hashtag and then share those within the agency before deciding next steps.

“If something great comes out of it and we start to adopt a new symbol then great, but let’s at least see what’s out there,” said Cusson. “It is more to create a movement.”


David Brown