The Emoji 5.0 update for 2017 includes smileys, people, food, flags and even new fantasy characters like genie and vampire.

Hijab breastfeeding fantasy figures The Emoji 50 update is fun inclusive and culturally relevant Screenshot
Social Emoji Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 13:03

Emojis are all set to become inclusive and gender neutral. Come June and 69 new emoji, approved by the non-profit Unicode Consortium, will be released as part of the Emoji 5.0 update for 2017.

These will include smileys, people, food, flags and even new fantasy characters emojis like mermaid, genie and vampire.

But what are perhaps some of the best additions to the list are the hijab emoji and the breastfeeding emoji.

Describing the gender emoji, Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge writes, "Many of the new additions feature a base emoji, such as Person In Steamy Room or Genie, in addition to gendered versions of each. Based on past releases, it's likely the base emoji will use one of the gendered appearances when released by major vendors. However it is possible that a gender-ambiguous/gender-inclusive version could be shown for each of these instead."

After the Unicode Consortium releases the emojis, vendors such as Apple and Facebook will implement them. These organisations can also modify the emojis if they want to.

The addition of these new emojis which include a diversity of skin tones and new character types will hopefully serve as a tool to improve the awareness levels of people in terms of social issues like racism, sexism and so forth.

It can be seen as a positive step towards increased awareness and sensitization towards the multitude of cultures and people present as well as a shift from the binaries of gender present. 

Shreya (21), an employee of LaughGuru, said, "In my understanding, it will be sensitization because of the awareness created.”

Not all, however, seem to be impressed by the new emojis. "The move is quite condescending because it is asking us to conform to how we see ourselves and is trying to categorise us," said Shraddha (23), a student of TISS.

Speaking to Emojipedia, Unicode President Mark Davis said "This 5.0 update of new Unicode emoji is designed to cover a range of popular requests that we received during 2016. It covers the 56 emoji characters that will be in Unicode 10.0, plus 183 emoji sequences used for gender and skin-tone variants, and the 3 new flags for England, Scotland, and Wales."

"It has been finalized and released before the Unicode 10.0 release in June, so that vendors can prepare their image designs and code in advance," he added.

Swati Moitra, associate professor of Delhi University, told The Times of India. "I would say that adding a hijab clad woman in the pantheon of familiar female figures serves to normalise the hijab clad woman, often in the eye of the storm. This is a welcome move." 

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.