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Do you remember when the only emojis we had involved a colon and parentheses, or a less-than sign and the number three to represent a heart? Ah, those were the days <3
Today, illustrated emojis have a pivotal role in modern-day communication and social media use. According to a 2015 report, 92 percent of men and women on the internet use emojis on a regular basis. Though emojis are part of our daily lives, most people are unaware of its impact, which goes beyond helping us express our emotions.
In honor of World Emoji Day (July 17), we will discuss the recent inclusion of diverse emojis that promote representation of different races, cultures, and communities on social media.
Where It All Started
After years of receiving backlash for not representing different skin tones in its emojis, Apple finally made a bold move.
In 2015, Apple released diverse emojis that introduced a variety of darker skin tones with different hair colors. At the time, some people thought “emojis of color” would be misused to incite racism. However, a recent study from the University of Edinburgh proved that it wasn’t the case. Most people, in fact, use the emoji that best represents their skin color. And, when Twitter users tweet using an emoji with a different skin tone than their own, the post is positive at most times. It is helpful to know this information to explain to others who might question the need for emojis symbolizing people of color. Because according to science, they are useful.
Progressive Emojis Allow Everyone to Express Their Identity
According to the same study, people of color on Twitter often modified their emojis to match their natural skin tone. This finding highlights the importance of social media users being able to express their identities online. “The introduction of skin tone choices for emojis has been a success in representing diversity, and their extensive use shows they meet a real demand from users,” says Dr. Walid Magdy, an assistant professor at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics.
New Emojis Represent the LGBTQ+ Community, and More
Besides cultivating diversity regarding race, emojis representing same-sex couples were added with the iOS 6 update in 2012. Apple also included same-sex parents in 2015.
Come 2018, Apple introduced thirteen new emojis to depict men and women from the disability community to Unicode. Plus, they expanded the variation of appearances by adding people with white hair, red hair, and more. “This result should encourage the addition of more emoji options for self-representation — adding to those that have been recently made available, such as red hair,” cites Alexander Robertson, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh who took part in the study.
This revolutionary study confirms that the new range of emojis has provided people of color a way to express themselves correctly online. That representation — regardless if small or even superficial — is important. While the majority of us care little about the emojis we use, they have a significant impact when it comes to promoting representation, diversity, and inclusivity.