Women who wear hijabs are now represented in emoji form, thanks to a teenager in Saudi Arabia. Rayouf Alhumedhi, 16, was using whatsapp group chat like teens all over all the world when it occurred to her that there was no emoji that looked like her.
She told CNN. “The fact that there wasn’t an emoji to represent me and the millions of other hijabi women across the world was baffling to me, I just wanted an emoji of me.”
Rayouf who now lives in Berlin, wrote to the Unicode Consortium, the group that develops emojis with her request. Her proposal suggested the creation of new emojis that not only looked like her but also the "millions of women from different races" across the globe.
On 17th July 2017, World Emoji Day, Apple made the groundbreaking announcement that it had accepted the design among a few others, in a variety of skintones.
Reactions to the news have been mixed. Some commenters on website Reddit posted their resistance to to the idea, with some arguing that “wearing the hijab is not a free choice” but rather “socially coerced.” Others called the headscarves “part of patriarchal constructs that oppress women.”
But other commenters sided against the backlash “I think you’re looking at this issue from the perspective of a white westerner,” one person posted. “So, since you seem to be a feminist, wouldn’t you agree that part of feminism is being able to wear whatever you want, whenever you want, without fear of judgment?”
Rayouf is taking the mixed response to her new emoji in her stride, sharing with CNN her hopes that once the hijab character starts appearing in our devices, “that will establish that notion that we are normal people carrying out daily routines just like you”
The new hijabi emoji will be introduced across devices later this year.