Wheee, Unicode Consortium, which is the body that creates the emojis you use on your phone and other apps, is coming out with an update that will include a bunch of exciting things.
You’d have noticed that now, a lot of emojis have both male and female versions. While it may feel like they’ve always been available, this actually happened only after there was commentary in May 2016 on the fact that only previously existing emojis of women were of dancing women in black tutus, or in red dresses, or of receptionist-looking women in pink, while there were none of female runners, cops, firemen and other professionals. Now, they’re coming up with a third set of “base emojis”, which will be gender-neutral.
They’re also coming out with emojis of women in hijab, and of a woman breastfeeding. In September 2016, Fortune reported that a 15-year-old Saudi girl living in Germany named Rayouf Alhumedhi had written to Unicode asking for a hijabi emoji, and that Unicode would roll one out in response to her request, which is kind of cool.
The update will also include new skin tones and is basically a response to requests received throughout 2016 that emojis need to represent a wider variety of people across gender and race, and not just white men. Emojis tend to be politically loaded in different and sometimes ways: Apple, for instance, had controversially replaced the pistol emoji with a water gun, in order to fight the casual acceptance of guns in popular narratives.