Our Bodies Our Choices

This project was a self-directed type exploration which involved a research paper and the creation of specific deliverables. An embroidered t-shirt and instagram campaign were created.

The central concept for these designs is based on the history of the reproductive rights movement, past and current protests, and the historical use of textiles as protest.

The embroidered t-shirt has the slogan, “Our Bodies, Our Choice,” which was in the Women’s March on October 3, 2021. This slogan was chosen since it references the iconic “My body, my choice” slogan and ties into the community as a whole by using the word “our” instead of “my.”

It is also more inclusive by not limiting the gender identity of those fighting for their body autonomy. The movement should be more gender-inclusive since people who identify as women are not always female, and people who are female are not always women.


Typography / Embroidery / Protest Art



For the words “Our,” a dark red yarn and medium red embroidery thread are used to add more texture and make the type bolder.

“Bodies” is done in an irregular running stitch to mimic sutures.

The bottom of the “Choices” is frayed and unravels to represent the unraveling of the laws that protect people’s choices. This fraying also alludes to veins, blood, and the body. It represents the uncertainty of the future.

Red is chosen for its connection to blood, violence, power, and menstruation. The use of a black t-shirt is for mourning the lives lost, and laws lost. It attracts attention and contrasts with the number of white signs used in protests.





If you have interest in this topic, here’s my research paper

Unraveling; The Use of Protest Art to Protect Roe

Reproductive rights and rights over one’s body are fundamental. There is an ongoing movement, and many past movements have fought for these rights. Roe v. Wade, which Americans widely support, is still in danger of being overturned. More legislation and policies are needed to protect people’s rights to their bodies. Protest signs are necessary for getting the message out and creating visibility. The problem lies with current protest signs and slogans that neglect gender-inclusive language. These signs can be improved by using more inclusive language and through using other mediums to create visibility and a more intense reaction. By tying into the gendered history of textiles and craft, these protest signs can become a work of art that impacts the audience as both a visual and tactile experience. To expand upon these solutions and add to the historic movement, an embroidered t-shirt, an embroidered banner, and Instagram posts showcasing them will be created. 

In the 1910s, Margaret Sanger, who coined the term birth control, was arrested for violating the Comstock Law. The Comstock Law banned the distribution of any birth control literature for being “obscene.” After being detained, Sanger opened the first U. S. birth control clinic. Now known as Planned Parenthood, she founded the American Birth Control League, a national reproductive rights organization (Bond & Taliaferro, 2020). Since then, there has been an ongoing fight for birth control rights in the U. S. Supreme Court. In 1965, Griswold v. Connecticut ruled that states could not deny married couples contraception. Later, In 1972, Eisenstadt v. Baird allowed access to unmarried people. The case Abramowicz v. Lefkowitz challenged New York abortion laws and started the trend of using storytelling and personal testimonies as evidence. In 1973, the U. S. Supreme Court case established that the access and choice of safe and legal abortions is a constitutional right in Roe v. Wade. This court case was a significant win for abortion and reproductive rights.

Roe v. Wade is not a perfect solution, and there are many problems with the lack of access for people in specific locations and minority groups. Despite its issues, Roe v. Wade is a fundamental step in the right direction of allowing bodily autonomy and the right to choose. Since the ruling, it has been constantly threatened by anti-abortion rights advocates and challenged in the courtroom. They argue that the fetus has the right to live and that by allowing abortion, they are discouraging and neglecting motherhood. Anti-abortion advocates, also identified as Pro-Lifers, demonize and call the women receiving help selfish (Ziegler, 2021). In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case about the burdensome restrictions to get an abortion, the mostly republican and anti-abortion Supreme Court Justices upheld the arguments in Roe. They did not ban abortion, citing the 14th amendment and the right to privacy, but they weakened it. They removed the trimester framework and allowed restrictions as long as they were not “unduly burdensome” (Ziegler, 2021). Roe v. Wade is constantly at threat of being overturned, and more substantial laws and policies are needed to protect reproductive rights and the right of bodily anatomy.

Since the lack and uncertainty of protection from the law, abortion advocates have found other ways to make their voices heard. There have been countless protests for women’s rights and reproductive rights. Recently, there was a Pro-Choice “Bans Off Our Bodies” protest at the Texas State Capitol to protest the new Texas law, Senate Bill 8, that prohibits abortion after six weeks. 85 to 90 percent of procedures in the state happen after the sixth week of pregnancy. This is before many people know that they are pregnant (Liptak, Goodman, & Tavernise, 2021). This law also encourages enforcement from private individuals to sue people involved in having, providing, or helping in receiving an abortion. Since it is not a criminal ban, it makes it much harder to fight in the Supreme Court (Liptak, Goodman, & Tavernise, 2021). The most significant abortion case in 30 years, a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, is currently being debated in the Supreme Court. This directly challenges Roe’s precedent that denies states the ability to prohibit abortions before fetal viability outside the womb, which is around 24 weeks (Cathey & Donaldson, 2021). Thousands gathered to protest with speeches, demonstrations, and visits from Senate Lawmakers. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green R-Ga. spoke with the anti-abortion protestors and Cori Bush, D-Mo. joined the abortion rights protestors. (Cathey & Donaldson, 2021). Many abortion rights advocates came from all over the country to march with signs and chant, “My body, my choice!” The anti-abortion advocates responded with prayers, hymns, and images of bloody fetuses (Cathey & Donaldson, 2021). These two pending cases are vital to the future of women’s rights and reproductive rights.

Female artists, denied access to training and resources in classical art for much of history, have cultivated their craft. Women’s work and crafts were not valued as art and were confined to the home instead of residing in galleries (Cecelia, 2018). Knitting, quilting, and embroidery have all been used as ways to engage with the community and act as living records of history (Phillips, 1995). Through craft and textiles, this gendered form of creation allows a medium for protest. They have a long history of “resistance through craft beginning as early as the pre-Revolutionary War and the anti-British spinning bees, and resurging more recently during the first wave feminist movement” (Cecelia, 2018). Many protest works, such as Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party (1974-79)” and “The Birth Project (1980-85)” revolve around the vulva and other anatomical imagery. This imagery is now considered problematic in intersectional frameworks and understandings of identity since it essentializes gender with sex (Cecelia, 2018). Feminists have used these mediums more recently with the Pussy Hats in the Women’s Marches, yarn-bombing public spaces, and decorative protest stitching using swear words and flowers. They use the craft “as a vehicle for subversion and creative expression” (Cecelia, 2018). This medium of textile crafts allows a deep connection to history and protest for the future.

An online survey was conducted with eight questions to poll general knowledge and opinions about Roe v. Wade. The survey was anonymous and posted publicly on Instagram and Facebook. The Instagram age demographic was mainly between 18 and 24, and the Facebook demographic had a majority between the ages of 45 and 65. The majority of the recorded responses for the gender of the participants were women. The questions were as follows; “Do you know what Roe v. Wade is?”, “Do you think you are well informed about Roe v. Wade?”, “Do you support Roe v. Wade?”, “Would you vote to uphold Roe v. Wade?”, “Would you consider donating to help the movement to uphold Roe v. Wade and support the movements fighting for equal access for people of different locations, classes, races, gender identities, sexual orientation, disabilities, and religions?”, “Would you sign a petition to help the movement to uphold Roe v. Wade and support the movements fighting for equal access for people of different locations, classes, races, gender identities, sexual orientation, disabilities, and religions?”, “Do you support equal access to abortion?” and “Do you consider yourself a feminist?”.

Of the 51 people that responded to this survey, only one participant did not know what Roe v. Wade was. 78.4% (40 people) felt well informed about Roe v. Wade. 88.2% support Roe v. Wade, with 7.8% not supporting and the rest unsure or declined to answer. 88.2% would vote to uphold Roe v. Wade. 64.7% would donate to help the movement, with 21.6% would donate if they had the means. 88.2% would sign a petition to help the movement. 90.2 % support equal access to abortion. 82.4% of participates consider themselves a feminist. From this data, most participants have general knowledge and would support Roe v. Wade through voting, petitions, and donating. There could be more information about Roe v. Wade, but the participants still knew the basics. More participants support equal access to abortion than those who stated they would vote, donate, or sign a petition. This indicates that some participants support abortion but would not take action to defend Roe v. Wade. Less people also consider themselves a feminist compared to the amount that supports and would take action to support Roe v. Wade.

From looking through images of feminist and reproductive rights protests and observing the presentation of protest signs and slogans, most signs do not include gender-inclusive language and only center on the identity of cisgender women. Since the 1970s, the majority of the signs’ type treatments have slogans in all caps with centered text in block letters. They vary from exclusively text to including women-centered imagery to incorporating more inclusive imagery. The majority of the signs using color include pink. More common and some historical slogans I’ve found through my research are “Reproductive freedom is every woman’s right (1986)”, “Abortion is a right,” “Abortion is healthcare,” “Protect Roe v. Wade,” “Save Roe” “My body, my choice,” “Our bodies, our choice, our rights (2021)”, “Bans off my body (2021)”, and more. Many other slogans utilize profanity and swear words or center around the lives lost and people harmed by being denied body anatomy. The majority of these slogans and imagery essentialize gender and sex and frame reproductive rights as solely a women’s rights issue.

To add to the narrative and fight for reproductive rights, I have created an embroidered t-shirt, banner, and two Instagram posts showcasing those designs. The central concept for these designs is based on the history of the reproductive rights movement, past and current protests, and the historical use of textiles as protest. The embroidered t-shirt has the slogan, “Our Bodies, Our Choice,” which was in the Women’s March on October 3, 2021. This slogan was chosen since it references the iconic “My body, my choice” slogan. It also ties more into the community as a whole by using the word “our” instead of “my.” The slogan chosen is also more inclusive to people fighting for their body autonomy by not limiting the identity of those affected to women. The movement should be more gender-inclusive since people who identify as women are not always female, and people who are female are not always women.

The type is in all caps, bold, and justified left. This position is to mimic the placement of the type on protest signs. The composition of the type places it over the uterus and stitches into the debated organ. All of the type has a base of a medium red thread using a long running stitch. For the words “our,” a dark red yarn and medium red embroidery thread are used to add more texture and make the type bolder. “Bodies” is done in an irregular running stitch perpendicular to the base outline of the letters to mimic sutures. This connects the embroidery to the word as well as the physical body. It ties the fight for abortion to the fight for medical care. For “Choices,” the base type is thickened to match the weight of the rest of the type. The bottom of the word is frayed and unravels to represent the unraveling of the laws that protect choice. This fraying also alludes to veins, blood, and the body. It represents the uncertainty of the future. Red is chosen for its connection to blood, violence, power, and menstruation. The use of a black t-shirt alludes to the lives lost, and laws lost since people wear black in mourning. It is also a bold color to attract attention and contrast with the number of white signs used in protests. 

           The embroidered banner includes the slogan, “Reproductive Freedom is Everyone’s Right.” This slogan was from an abortion rights protest at SLU in 1986. It originally said “woman” instead of “everyone,” but that was altered to be more gender-inclusive. This slogan was chosen to tie in the history of the movement and how long people have been fighting for the right to reproductive freedom. This banner is in the same style as the t-shirt with the red thread on black fabric. The type is centered and in all caps to match protest signs. The banner is to be carried between poles in front of a march or placed in the area of the protest.

Both of these designs are to be posted on Instagram to bring awareness to those not directly engaged in the protest. The design of the posts showcases the banner in use at a protest and the shirt being worn. Both posts will have thin red borders the same color as the base thread. The caption of the post will be “Take Action” and a link to Planned Parenthood’s “4 easy ways to fight for abortion rights.”

These solutions of an embroidered t-shirt, an embroidered banner, and Instagram posts showcasing them effectively solve the problems of current protest signs and slogans. By using slogans that don’t essentialize gender and sex and using red and black instead of the gendered color pink, these designs solve the problem of protest materials neglecting gender-inclusive language. The medium of embroidery, a traditionally gendered and unvalued form of art, as protest is more impactful than a paper sign through its connection to the continued practice of using textiles are a form of storytelling, protest, and history. The use of textile work creates a more visceral visual and tactile experience that is tied to the body of a protester, which alludes to how the law is tied to the body.  By maintaining these connections, the past work done for this movement is not erased or devalued but instead is elevated and respected.


Works Cited

Carpenter, Anna Cecelia. “Embodied Traditions: Reclaiming Feminine Craft and the Body through Humor.” Research Exchange, Washington State University, Washington State University, May 2018. Research Exchange, https://rex.libraries.wsu.edu/esploro/outputs/graduate/Embodied-traditions-reclaiming-feminine-craft-and/99900525072301842#details. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

Cathey, Libby, and Sarah Donaldson. “Thousands Demonstrate at Supreme Court as Justices Consider Historic Abortion Case.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 1 Dec. 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/thousands-rally-supreme-court-justices-abortion-rights/story?id=81478636.

Leigh C. Bond & Monika Taliaferro, The Continued Rise of the Reproductive Justice Lawyer, 23 Chap. L. Rev. 299 (2020). https://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/chapman-law-review/vol23/iss2/2

Liptak, Adam, et al. “Supreme Court, Breaking Silence, Won't Block Texas Abortion Law.”The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Sept. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/01/us/supreme-court-texas-abortion.html.

Phillips, Brenda D. “Women’s Studies in the Core Curriculum: Using Women’s Textile Work to Teach Women’s Studies and Feminist Theory.” Feminist Teacher, vol. 9, no. 2, University of Illinois Press, 1995, pp. 89–92, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40545711.

Ziegler, Mary. “Contesting the Legacy of the Nineteenth Amendment: Abortion and Equality from Roe to the Present.” University of Colorado Law Review, vol. 92, no. 3, July 2021, pp. 753–797. EBSCOhost, discovery.ebsco.com/linkprocessor/plink?id=ccecd4ee-2533-3dce-9316-1215eccc0500.