As products of a world that prides itself on its technological advances, we have seen firsthand the impact of technology on our lives. Our phones have become our closest companions, and we’ve all mastered the art of texting and communicating with others online.
Thanks to the variety of social media platforms now accessible to us at the touch of a button, we’re quickly becoming a part of a changing narrative.
Our interactions with others are no longer limited to verbal exchanges. Now we have the luxury of expressing ourselves and sharing our stories in a number of ways, including using emojis and stickers — when words just aren’t enough.
Emojis have become an integral addition to use in texts and chats, largely because they allow us to show others what we mean when we aren’t interacting with them in person.
Among young adults, emojis have even become a distinct and separate language, far removed from the limiting constraints of letters that some just can’t be bothered to type out.
However, as wonderful and beneficial as emojis have become in our communication with one another, they don’t always lend themselves to the diversity and beautiful cultural variety that exists in the real world — this has started to change.
It was a more than a year ago that Apple added different skin tones to its emoji app, an important add-on that that allowed those who use emojis in their texts to represent themselves in a more accurate manner.
Now, a student in Berlin has made a proposal to make emojis even more accurate in their representation of the people who use them.
Fifteen-year-old Rayouf Alhumedhi, who wears hijab, realized that there were no emojis that looked like her when her friends created a WhatsApp group and titled it using emojis that best represented them.
While each of her friends used emojis with face and hair colors close to their own, successfully creating likenesses of themselves, Alhumedhi couldn’t find an emoji with a headscarf.
She saw this as an issue, as — according to BuzzFeed and Alhumedhi’s own written proposal — there are more than 500 million people in the world who wear head coverings, a significant number that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Taking matters into her own hands, Alhumedhi drafted a comprehensive proposal for her idea, explaining the history of the headscarf and making a case for why there need to be emojis of people donning headscarves.
She told BuzzFeed News that it’s not only Muslim women who choose to wear a headscarf; Orthodox Jews and Christians also have religious reasons for wearing head coverings.
Of course, wearing a headscarf or turban could also be a cultural decision and not necessarily religious. Regardless of their reasons for wearing a headscarf, the men and women who do choose to do so should be represented, and the concept is not entirely foreign.
Bitmoji, a mobile sticker app that was recently purchased by Snapchat, has a hijab option along with its other headwear stickers like hats and headbands.
Alhumedhi, who is only one of many young adults immersed in the world of the emoji, recognizes that a platform so widely used among people from around the world needs to do a better of job of representing them.
She has gained support among emoji committee members and plans to submit the proposal to Unicode, the organization responsible for approving emoji proposals.
In her proposal, Alhumedhi explains that people living in predominantly Muslim countries, like Indonesia and Egypt, would use the emoji. Because they make up such a significant percentage of the population, it’s important that Muslims — and their Jewish and Christian counterparts — are accurately characterized in the emojis they use on a daily basis.
Alhumedhi’s proposal is a notable effort that has already gained some traction on social media. You can see a rough illustration of what a hijab/headscarf emoji might look like and request the emoji on EmojiRequest.com, where the idea has generated interest and has already been requested more than 700 times.