The Muslim population of the world is thought to be approaching two billion, yet until very recently there was no emoji depicting a person wearing a headscarf. A few years ago, a teenager started fighting to get such an emoji created, as she couldn’t find any to represent herself in a group message with friends. Here, we take a look at the development of the hijabi emoji, to see where things stand today.
There are thought to be over half a billion Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab – so not having an emoji to depict themselves is a big deal. The teen responsible for the creation of the emoji first contacted Apple with her idea, but did not receive a response. She later wrote to Unicode, and after a lot of hard work her proposal was granted. The emoji was launched on various platforms in the summer of 2017. The design of the emoji is quite simple due to the small size – there are no details such as fancy patterns or hijab pins.
The hijab emoji has caused a lot of controversy online. Whilst many love having a picture to represent themselves, others feel more negatively. Some feel the headscarf is a sign of oppression and that by launching such an emoji, big tech companies are supporting the oppression of women. Others even compared the headscarf to those who wear explosive vests, suggesting that those will be appearing on emojis soon too. However, overall the reception was good and there was a lot of anticipation before it was released.
Amongst the other newly released emojis are a woman breastfeeding, a man meditating and smilies to include other hair colours such as red, white and even bald faces. This is an attempt to include more diverse styles, so everyone can feel included when using emojis in their messages. It is hoped that in the future, more diverse emojis will continue to be added, and some are already asking for different hijab colours to be included in the future.
It is hoped that by seeing different people in emoji form, everyone will begin to realise that these are just ordinary people like anyone else, who just want to go about their daily business like the rest of us. People from all different walks of life use messaging services, and they should be able to find emojis to represent themselves, the way they look at the profession they have.