Here's Some Barely Comforting, Progressive New Emojis

By Rhett Jones on at

The emoji-powers-that-be at Unicode seem to have their finger on the pulse of the world’s zeitgeist with the latest additions. Many symbols of social progress were approved to be added to the official emoji lineup yesterday and many handy signifiers of what-the-hell-just-happened were as well.

The two big standout emojis with political resonance were the “Person With Headscarf” (hijab) and “Breast-Feeding.”

The hijab emoji was first proposed by Rayouf Alhumedhi, a 15-year-old girl from Saudi Arabia. Alhumedhi told the BBC “during a group chat with her friends on social media that she had realized there was no emoji to represent her, a headscarf-wearing woman.” After writing an email to Unicode, a member of a Unicode subcommittee stepped in to help her write a formal proposal.

Before Friday’s approval, Alhumedi said, “There are so many Muslim women in this world who wear the headscarf. It might seem trivial... but it’s different when you see yourself on the keyboard around the world.”

As emojis have become a more widespread tool for communication, many groups have felt left out and corrections have been coming in slowly but surely. Redheads are not amused.

The proposal for a breastfeeding emoji pointed out that “three million mothers participate in the activity of breastfeeding in the United States at any given time,” and that the baby bottle ranks in the top 50% of emojis used on emojitracker.com. It comes at a time when the President-elect of the United States thinks breastfeeding is “disgusting.

Speaking of that, this new batch of handy illustrations will not be out until mid-2017 so you, unfortunately, can’t use the “face with hand covering face,” “shocked face with exploding head,” and “face with open mouth vomiting” right now. I’m sure there will be ample opportunity next year.

Other new additions include a “flying saucer,” “face with monocle” and, to Finland’s delight, “Person in Steamy Room.” I don’t know why Finland wanted that so badly but it’s a big ol’ world out there.

But don’t start thinking that the emoji-masters have gone all liberal-pinko-commie on us. There’s something familiar about the “billed cap” that I don’t want to think about too much right now.