A post from Shady Characters

Emoji, part 6c: to infinity…and beyond‽

This is the eighth in a series of nine posts on Emoji (😂). Start at PART 1, continue to PART 9 or view ALL POSTS in the series.


As we saw last time, Emoji 4.0 cemented the Unicode Consortium’s practice of annual emoji updates. In doing so it created the phenomenon of “emoji season”, in which commentators pick apart the new emoji that will soon arrive on smartphones and computers and then go back to their usual business. Emoji season has come to be defined by the major theme of the accompanying emoji update: 2015’s Emoji 1.0 added skin tone support, while 2016’s Emoji 4.0 brought a more equitable treatment of male and female emoji. Now, in May 2017, Emoji 5.0 added the concept of gender-neutral emoji.1

For all its attendant fanfare, Emoji 5.0 added only three new emoji in the service of gender inclusivity: CHILD (🧒), PERSON (🧑), and OLDER PERSON (🧓). Each one was intended to provide a gender-neutral alternative to its gendered counterparts: BOY (👦) or GIRL (👧), MAN (👨) or WOMAN (👩), and OLD MAN (👴) or OLD WOMAN (👵). But, as is often the way with emoji specifically, and with Unicode in general, things were a little more complicated than they seemed.


The Unicode Consortium had always meant for emoji to be free of gendered representation, at least as far as was reasonably practicable. Unicode Technical Standard #51 — the document the rest of the world knows as Emoji 1.0, Emoji 2.0, and so on — had from its very first edition made a point of listing the few emoji that did have a specific gender* before making it clear that “All other emoji representing people should be depicted in a gender-neutral way[.]”1 That was the theory, anyway.

In practise, things were not so clear cut. As Rachel Been, Nichole Bleuel, Agustin Fonts and Mark Davis had discovered as they added female professions to Emoji 4.0, emoji vendors tended to interpret “gender-neutral” as meaning “along conventional gender lines”.2 POLICE OFFICER (👮) implicitly meant “policeman”; a DANCER (💃) was most likely to be a woman; a FAMILY (👪) consisted of a man, a woman and a child; and so on.

To their credit, both Unicode and its partner organisation, the abominably-named ISO/IEC JTC/SC2/WG2, had been chipping away at emoji’s gender biases since taking up the reins in the late 2000s. At a meeting of ISO/IEC members in Tokyo in 2009, as emoji’s future as a part of Unicode was being hashed out, it was decided that the Japanese mobile networks’ existing MAN AND WOMAN HOLDING HANDS symbol (👫) should be accompanied by same-sex equivalents (👬, 👭).3 (Those hand-holding same-sex couples made it to first base in 2016: ‘👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩’, ‘👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨’.4) Emoji’s long-serving nuclear family (👪) was joined by a variety of same-sex families (such as ‘👨‍👨‍👦’ and ‘👩‍👩‍👧‍👦’) in Emoji 2.0 and Emoji 3.0.5,4 And of course, Emoji 4.0’s headline act was to introduce a comprehensive set of professions available in both male and female versions, but it also brought a host of ZWJ-based single-parent families, too ( 👩‍👶‍👧).6

Emoji 5.0, then, was the logical continuation of this march towards a more nuanced representation of gender. Its central pillars — those three gender-inclusive faces — had been created by Paul D. Hunt, a typeface designer at Adobe, who first petitioned the Unicode Consortium wth his “Proposal to enable gender inclusive emoji representation” in October 2016.7 As Hunt told Megan Molteni of Wired, users’ perceptions of emoji gender ran deep: just as many people read yellow “smileys” as white-skinned, so Hunt had found that those same smileys, even with their geometric smiles and pinhole eyes, were most often perceived to be male.8 In response, Hunt experimented with different ways to minimise the viewer’s instinctive desire to assign gender to emoji. Out went pink clothes, beards and pouting lips. In came a mid-length haircut that was as likely to be seen on a man as on a woman.8,9

In March 2017, Hunt’s redesigned emoji (🧒, 🧑, 🧓) formed the centrepiece of Unicode’s next annual emoji update. Just as significant, Emoji 5.0’s less-trumpeted additions — MAGE (🧙), FAIRY (🧚), VAMPIRE (🧛), MERPERSON (🧜), ELF (🧝), GENIE (🧞), ZOMBIE (🧟), PERSON IN STEAMY ROOM (🧖), PERSON CLIMBING (🧗) and others — were also gender-neutral, requiring the addition of a ‘♀️’ or ‘♂️’ modifier to assume a distinct gender.10

Maybe it was emoji fatigue, or maybe it was a perceived difficulty in framing the story for a broader audience, but Emoji 5.0 did not garner the same level of mainstream media interest as earlier releases. The Telegraph’s perfunctory coverage was typical of the genre (“Gender-neutral emoji approved for 2017”),11 and, generally speaking, far less ink was spilled on the subject than in previous years. The LGBT+ press, on the other hand, was ecstatic. “Gender-neutral emojis are coming really soon, and people are excited”, said Josh Jackman of PinkNews,12 while Out.com brought forth the now-traditional “Finally!” headline (“Finally! Apple Introduces Gender-Neutral Emojis”).13

In the event, celebration of emoji’s newfound gender-awareness was premature. Emoji 5.0 had opened the door to a more inclusive emoji palette, but the major emoji vendors — Apple, Facebook, Google and the like — continued to ignore Unicode’s guidance that “All other emoji representing people should be depicted in a gender-neutral way”. Only Paul Hunt’s three androgynous emoji, plus Emoji 5.0’s fantastical collection of merpeople, vampires, genies and elves, were truly gender-inclusive. Granted, there was now a female version of the CONSTRUCTION WORKER emoji (👷‍♀️), along with many others; but that did not change the fact that the default version was still a man (👷), or that there was no gender-inclusive variant.1 Most human-form emoji, on most platforms, stuck closely to gender stereotypes.

It was not until late in 2018 that one of emoji’s chief gatekeepers broke ranks. In November that year, Google announced that it planned to redesign all of its emoji in an inclusive way, with gender cues added only if specifically requested by the user or required by the Unicode standard. Emoji 5.0’s promise of a land without gender stereotypes may finally be within reach.14


The next version of emoji, released in May 2018, hewed closely to Unicode’s formula for emoji season. It simultaneously illuminated and ameliorated one of emoji’s shrinking number of diversity blind spots — hair type and colour, this time round — while throwing in a few new animals, smileys and professions for good measure.15 There was one small innovation, in that a decision had been made to synchronise emoji versions with the corresponding Unicode standard; thus, Emoji 6.0 became Emoji 11.0.16

Just as Emoji 5.0 had faced up to Unicode’s hollow promise of gender neutrality, so Emoji 11.0 did the same for hair colour and type. Prior to Emoji 11.0, Unicode had espoused a lowest-common-denominator approach to emoji hair, explaining in Emoji 5.0 that:

No particular hair color is required [for emoji with different skin tones], however, dark hair is generally regarded as more neutral because people of every skin tone can have black (or very dark brown) hair. One exception is PERSON WITH BLOND HAIR, which needs to have blond hair regardless of skin tone.1

Plainly, there was scope for a more nuanced treatment of hair colour and type. What about people with wavy or curly hair, or no hair at all? Where were the redheads and the grey-haired? We’ll get to Emoji 11.0 and its attempts to address these issues in a moment, but, before we do, it’s worth spending some time with the aforementioned PERSON WITH BLOND HAIR (👱), a fascinating reminder of emoji’s parochial origins.

Anyone with the most tangential interest in emoji (or, indeed, anyone following this series of posts) knows that emoji originated in Japan. As such, when Unicode adopted and standardised the “picture characters”, or e-moji,17 beloved of Japan’s mobile phone users, they were understandably skewed towards Japanese cultural touchstones. The first set of Unicode emoji, ratified in 2010, was full of icons such as SUSHI (🍣), BENTO BOX (🍱), RICE CRACKER (🍘), HIGH-SPEED TRAIN WITH BULLET NOSE (🚅), LOVE HOTEL (🏩), CARP STREAMER (🎏), IZAKAYA LANTERN (🏮), MOON VIEWING CEREMONY (🎑), KIMONO (👘) and so on.18

Some of those first emoji revealed as much about how Japan saw the world as about how it saw itself. MAN WITH GUA PI MAO (👲), for example, a guā pí mào being a kind of hat worn in Qing-dynasty China, and which in some incarnations came with a droopy pencil moustache and yellow skin, was an unsubtle caricature of a Chinese person.19,20,21 MAN WITH TURBAN (👳) was a similarly blunt shorthand for “Indian person”22,21 and, completing the triumvirate, PERSON WITH BLOND HAIR (👱) was its counterpart for “Caucasian”.23 More telling than this last icon’s blond hair and Western features was that there was no corresponding PERSON WITH BROWN HAIR or PERSON WITH BLACK HAIR; ‘👱’ was no more intended to be part of a balanced, representative emoji vocabulary than ‘👳’ or ‘👲’.§

Now, none of this is to say that early Japanese emoji were any more exclusionary than those of other parts of the world have since proved to be. (A glance at Emojipedia’s archive of MAN WITH GUA PI MAO reveals that many Western emoji vendors were happy to copy the slanted eyes, Fu Manchu moustache and yellow skin of the Japanese original.) And nor is it to suggest that Japanese culture of the late 1990s was any more culpable than the rest of the world: no matter where one looks, there was and is more than enough xenophobia to go around. But it does illustrate that emoji was born in a very specific context, and that it represented a necessarily partial view of the world. It also shows why Unicode had to start its journey to broaden emoji’s cultural scope, and why it continues on that road today. Indeed, in parallel to the headline-grabbing updates to gender and ethnicity we’ve already encountered, over the years emoji has received a steady stream of lower-profile but no less important new glyphs. Pregnancy and motherhood (🤰, 🤱), places of worship (🕋, 🕌, 🕍), religious dress and paraphernalia (📿, 🧕, 🕎), national and other flags (🇬🇧, 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, 🇪🇺, 🏳️‍🌈), food (🥨, 🥟, 🥘), and many other aspects of daily life are now far more inclusive than they once were.25

Not that this cultural readjustment has been plain sailing. In 2017, Adrienne Lafrance of the Atlantic complained that emoji was exchanging one monoculture for another, singling out new glyphs such as DUMPLING (🥟), FORTUNE COOKIE (🥠) and TAKEOUT BOX (🥡) that were not symbols of Chinese culture itself but instead the American experience of it.26 Flags, too, have proved to be problematic. Each emoji flag is not a single code point but rather a pair of letters — so-called regional indicator symbols, invested with a special meaning so that applications and operating systems can pick them out and treat them accordingly.27 Where a flag abbreviation appears, the computer or application in question may convert that abbreviation to the appropriate flag — or it may, very deliberately, choose not to do so. Taiwan is the canonical (and controversial) example: even if the Taiwanese flag (🇹🇼) is not itself displayed, it is usually possible to discern that “🇹‍🇼” somehow relates to the country of Taiwan. iPhones sold in mainland China, however, obscure even this fallback position, displaying instead a generic “missing character” icon (☒).28


But I digress. Back to hair, and back to Unicode’s stated position, through the emoji ages, that hair should be black or dark brown.

Unicode’s tacit admission, with the publication of Emoji 1.0 of 2015, that emoji was neither perfect nor immutable led to a wave of proposals for new glyphs. Gender and ethnicity were clearly top of the list, but cries for a better treatment of hair were becoming harder to ignore. In a November 2016 email to the Unicode mailing list, a designer named Christoph Päper listed seventeen separate petitions for red-haired emoji.29 Outside the Unicode bubble, the media were catching on, too, with Emojipedia, the Guardian and others reporting on one particular petition (“Redheads should have emoji, too!”) that eventually garnered more than twenty thousand signatures.30,31,32 Elsewhere, a petition started by a British woman with alopecia areata attracted fewer supporters but was similarly well represented in the news.33,34,35

As it happened, emoji’s overlords had been working on hair colour for some time, but their plans went further than that. In February 2016, with Emoji 2.0 barely out the door, Peter Edberg and Mark Davis published a roadmap for customisable emoji called “Unicode Emoji Mechanisms”, in which they described how invisible “tags” — letters and numbers — could be used to modify baseline emoji for almost any purpose. For the first edition of their document, they proposed tags for gender, flags, “directionality” (that is, the ability to flip certain emoji, such as ‘🚴’, ‘✈’ and ‘👋’, that pointed in a specific direction) and, most apposite here, hair variations. It worked like this: a standalone emoji could be followed by any number of “key-value pairs”, where a “key” was a capital letter and the “value” comprised one or more lowercase letters or numbers. The uppercase letter identified a mutable characteristic, such as gender or direction; the lowercase letters and numbers that followed it selected the value for that characteristic. Finally, the sequence was terminated by a “tag terminator”, or ‘✦’.36

It sounds complicated and, well, it was. A female runner emoji might be constructed from the gender-neutral RUNNER (🏃) plus a series of tags to select its gender, so that “🏃Gf✦” would be displayed as ‘🏃‍♀️’. ‘G’ meant “gender”, ‘f’ stood for “female” and the diamond marked the end of the sequence. (For a male runner emoji, the ‘f’ tag would be replaced by an “m”.) For flags, Edberg and Davis proposed that a capital ‘V’, for “vexillology”, should introduce a lowercase abbreviation of the country or region in question,37 while ‘D’, for “direction”, would be followed by ‘r’ or ‘l’. For hair, they suggested that an ‘H’ tag could introduce any one of a number of variations: black, blond, brown, red or gray hair, or no hair at all. The authors culled these choices from US passport forms, UN security procedures, and other similar sources.36

It safe to say that “Unicode Emoji Mechanisms” was not universally acclaimed. Objections lodged with the Unicode Consortium ranged from the technical (“The proposed mechanism for attaching tags to emoji characters is a massive abuse of the existing tag characters”) to the procedural (“We believe [Unicode Emoji Mechanisms] possibly contravenes both the mission and bylaws of the Unicode Consortium”), with especially pointed criticism on the subject of hair coming from a group of academics. Femke Snelting et al were mightily unimpressed with the consortium’s choice of colours:

[T]he proposal refers to the US Online Passport application form as the “standard” to follow when choosing this limited palette. The way the U.S. State Department chooses to view and categorize people is a particular expression of how the border control agency sees a person, it should not have to make its way into daily communications […] [W]e argue that this is yet another example of the unavoidable and unsolvable problems that the Unicode consortium runs into with the logic of the modifier mechanism.38

In other words, hair colour was not something that could be boiled down into six paltry categories.

And there was more. Though skin tones had already been added to emoji, and though Unicode had a long-standing policy never to remove characters once they had been added,39 Snelting and her co-authors delivered a polemic on that subject, too:

In [choosing the Fitzpatrick scale for emoji skin tones], the Consortium has conflated and misunderstood a medical standard for the way human skin responds to UV exposure, with a scale that represents skin color. Furthermore, the Fitzpatrick scale has a lineage to colonialism via the Von Luschan’s chromatic scale.38

The criticism here was even sharper. Felix von Luschan, a fin de siècle Austrian anthropologist who developed a “chromatic scale” of skin tones, was notorious for his support for eugenics and “racial purity”.40 Unicode did not use von Luschan’s chromatic scale, of course, but it did make use of Thomas B. Fitzpatrick’s later version. All in all, said Snelting, Unicode would do better to give ethnicity, hair colour and other charged physical characteristics a very wide berth.38

In the end, the textual tagging system proposed in “Unicode Emoji Mechanisms” went no further. Instead, after a close to year-long internal debate on how to incorporate hair colour into emoji,41,42,43,44 the Unicode Consortium fell back on the ZWJ-based system it had introduced way back in Emoji 1.0. It created a handful of new emoji representing red, grey, curly and no hair respectively,|| then glued them to existing symbols with ZERO WIDTH JOINERs and hoped for the best.16 (Blond hair was already represented by PERSON WITH BLOND HAIR.)

“Great!” you may well have thought upon reading this, “I can finally use the male/female/androgynous bald/red-/white-/curly-haired chef/rock star/farmer emoji of my choice”.

Unfortunately, no, you can’t. As we saw last time, the emoji lexicon was by now growing at a rate of hundreds of new symbols per year. In a bid to stem the time, Unicode restricted the set of emoji to which hair variants could be applied to just MAN (👨) and WOMAN (👩). Draconian, maybe, but consider this: combined with four hair variants, those two original emoji now turn into eight new symbols; add emoji’s six skin tones and the total is forty-eight additional faces46 to be crammed into keyboards already groaning under the weight of thousands of other emoji.

Hair-related symbols in Twitter's 2018 emoji
The four emoji hair “components” and the forty-eight officially sanctioned emoji that can be created using them. (CC-BY 4.0 images taken from Twemoji version 12.0.1.)

Such practical matters cut little ice with emoji users. Emojipedia documented the collective tweet of exasperation when Apple’s versions of the new hair colours and styles were launched in October 2018:

I’ve been waiting forever for the ginger emoji and THIS is it?? Uh, hello?

We waited literally years for you to give us a redhead emoji and when you finally did, you didn’t add it to the other emoticons

#Gingers finally got an emoji! Though, still not equal. Redheads aren’t included in every other version of the human emojis. 🤦🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️💁🏼‍♀️🙅🏼‍♀️🙎🏼‍♀️ What gives @AppleSupport?47

Alone among emoji’s great leaps forward, Emoji 11.0 is perhaps the only one to have missed the mark. Emoji 12.0, released this year, has not expanded its hair variation support, even to obvious candidates such as CHILD (🧒), PERSON (🧑), OLDER PERSON (🧓), BOY (👦), GIRL (👧), OLD MAN (👴) or OLD WOMAN (👵). The curly hair emoji (🦱), intended to be applicable to all ethicities, has been roundly derided as a poor substitute for a genuine “afro” hair style. (At the time of writing, an ongoing petition for an “afro” emoji has reached 62,900 signatures.)48,49,50,51

To take a subjective view, it just feels like emoji’s hair variations are not as welcome as were skin tones or genders. Time will tell whether this can be turned around.


All of this brings us to 2019, and to this year’s emoji season. Aside from the usual grab-bag of miscellaneous symbols, such as STETHOSCOPE, CHAIR, SAFETY VEST and YO-YO, this time round Unicode has added a host of new emoji relating to disabilities. Along with MECHANICAL ARM, MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIR, EAR WITH HEARING AID, DEAF PERSON and other standalone emoji were a set of ZWJ-based symbols such as MAN WITH PROBING CANE, WOMAN IN MANUAL WHEELCHAIR, SERVICE DOG and more. (Charmingly, this last emoji is composed of a DOG and a SAFETY VEST.)52

Disability-related symbols in Twitter's 2019 emoji
Disability-related symbols in Twitter’s 2019 smileys. (CC-BY 4.0 images taken from Twemoji version 12.0.1.)

Now, you might well wonder why there are no emoji glyphs in the previous paragraph. The one problem that has consistently dogged Unicode’s programme of emoji renovation, regardless of how well or how badly a given update was received, is that our computing devices are often months behind the curve. WordPress, for example, the open-source software that runs Shady Characters, cannot display the new symbols in Emoji 12.0. And even if I could add them here, which I can’t, almost any device on which you might choose to read this page would almost certainly render those new emoji as Unicode’s dreaded REPLACEMENT CHARACTER (�) or some other generic fallback. Emoji is perenially late to the party.

Unicode, for its part, is keenly aware of the issue. Indeed, it has been since at least 2015, when it first carved out Emoji 1.0 from the broader Unicode 8.0 standard. Right at the bottom of Emoji 1.0 is a section entitled “Longer Term Solutions”, and it opens as follows:

The longer-term goal for implementations should be to support embedded graphics, in addition to the emoji characters. Embedded graphics allow arbitrary emoji symbols, and are not dependent on additional Unicode encoding.55

“Plot twist!”, as they say.

These treacherous sentences, nestled comfortably at the bottom of the first edition of Unicode’s emoji Bible, shows that the consortium considered emoji not a settled part of its character set but rather a problem to be solved. “Longer Term Solutions” is not how one refers to something that is expected to hang around forever.

What is the solution to the emoji problem, then? To read Unicode’s own assessment, it sounds very much like the consortium would prefer to remove itself from the role of emoji arbiter by allowing anyone to send any characters they like, not only the emoji in the Unicode standard, as images embedded in their text. You can almost hear the exasperation at the prospect of “additional Unicode encoding”.

Four years later, and with emoji’s version number now aligned to match that of the broader Unicode standard, Emoji 12.0 still contains the same text.56 The future of emoji is anyone’s guess.

1.
Mark Davis and Peter Edberg, “Unicode Technical Standard #51: Unicode Emoji (version 5.0)”, Unicode.Org, 2017. 
2.
Rachel Been et al., “Expanding Emoji Professions: Reducing Gender Inequality”, 2016. 
3.
Tero Aalto et al., “Emoji Ad-Hoc Meeting Report”, 2009. 
4.
The Unicode Consortium, “Emoji ZWJ Sequence Catalog for UTR #51”, Emoji 3.0, 2016. 
5.
The Unicode Consortium, “Emoji ZWJ Sequence Catalog for UTR #51”, Emoji 2.0, 2015. 
6.
The Unicode Consortium, “Emoji ZWJ Sequence Catalog for UTR #51”, Emoji 4.0, 2016. 
7.
Paul Hunt D, “Proposal to Enable Gender Inclusive Emoji Representation”, 2016. 
8.
Megan Molteni, “Designing Genderless Emoji? It Takes More Than Just Losing the Lipstick”, Wired, June–2017. 
9.
Christina Cauterucci, “Paul Hunt Made Gender-Inclusive Emoji for Non-Binary Individuals.”, Slate, June–2017. 
10.
Jeremy Burge, “Emoji Version 5.0”, Emojipedia
11.
James Titcomb, “Gender-Neutral Emoji Approved for 2017”, The Telegraph, March–2017. 
12.
Josh Jackman, “Gender-Neutral Emojis Are Coming Really Soon, and People Are Excited”, PinkNews, October–2017. 
13.
“Finally! Apple Introduces Gender-Neutral Emojis”, Out.Com, October–2017. 
14.
Jennifer Daniel, “Using Gender Inclusive Designs”, 2019. 
15.
Jeremy Burge, “Emoji Version 11.0”, Emojipedia, 2018. 
16.
Mark Davis and Peter Edberg, “Unicode Technical Standard #51: Unicode Emoji (version 11.0)”, Unicode.Org, 2018. 
17.
“Emoji”, Oxford Dictionaries
18.
The Unicode Consortium, The Unicode Standard, Version 6.0 - Archived Code Charts, 2010. 
19.
“瓜皮帽”, Wiktionary
20.
Jeremy Burge, “Man With Gua Pi Mao Emoji”, Emojipedia
21.
“’More diverse’ Emoji Faces Planned”, BBC News, November–2014. 
22.
Jeremy Burge, “Man With Turban Emoji”, Emojipedia
23.
Christoph Päper, “PRI 364 Emoji 11.0 Beta”, Accumulated Feedback on PRI #364, 2018. 
24.
Karl Pentzlin, “Problems Concerning ‘U+1F471 WESTERN PERSON’ in ISO-IEC 10646 FPDAM8”, 2010. 
25.
“Emoji Versions, v12.0”, Unicode.Org, 2019. 
26.
Adrienne Lafrance, “The Westernization of Emoji”, The Atlantic, May–2017. 
27.
Mark Davis and Peter Edberg, “Proposed Draft Unicode Technical Report #51: Unicode Emoji (version 1.0)”, Unicode.Org, 2014. 
28.
Josh Horwitz, “You can’t Use the Taiwan Flag Emoji on a Chinese IPhone”, Quartz, April–2018. 
29.
Christoph Päper, “Re: Manatee Emoji?”, Unicode Mail List Archive, 2016. 
30.
Ginger Parrot, “Redheads Should Have Emoji, Too!”, change.Org, 2015. 
31.
Jeremy Burge, “The Trouble With Redheads”, Emojipedia, April–2015. 
32.
Elena Cresci, “’More gingerness!’ Petition Calls for Redhead Emojis”, The Guardian, March–2015. 
33.
Jade Jarvis, “Where Is the bald/Hair Loss emoji?!”, change.Org, 2017. 
34.
Sarah Tijou, “Alopecia Patient Calls for Bald Emoji to Help Represent Hair Loss”, BBC Newsbeat
35.
Brittany Vonow, “Brave Woman Reveals What it’s Like to Lose Her Hair at 16 - and Calls for Apple to Install a Bald Emoji”, The Sun
36.
Mark Davis and Peter Edberg, “Proposed Draft Unicode{\textregistered} Technical Standard #52: Unicode Emoji Mechanisms”, Unicode.Org, 2016. 
37.
Mark Davis, Peter Edberg, and Emoji Subcommittee, “Unicode-Specified Emoji Customizations”, 2016. 
38.
Geoff Cox et al., “Issues With Modifier Mechanism, UTS #52”, 2016. 
39.
“Unicode Character Encoding Stability Policies”, Unicode.Org, 2017. 
40.
John David Smith, “W.E.B. Du Bois, Felix Von Luschan, and Racial Reform at the Fin De Siècle”, 2002. 
41.
Jeremy Burge and Emoji Subcommitte, “L2/17-011: Summary of Options for Redhead Emoji”, 2017. 
42.
Jeremy Burge and Emoji Subcommittee, “L2/17-082: Possible Emoji Representation for Natural Hair Colors, Features, and Styles”, 2017. 
43.
Charlotte Buff, “L2/17-193: Alternative Encoding Model for Emoji Hair Variations”, 2017. 
44.
Charlotte Buff, “L2/17-376: The Trouble With ‘Top of Head’ Emoji”, 2017. 
45.
Michael Everson, “L2/17-394: Towards Dealing With Hair Styles and Colouring in the UCS”, 2017. 
46.
The Unicode Consortium, “Emoji ZWJ Sequence Catalog for UTR #51”, Emoji 11.0, 2018. 
47.
Jeremy Burge, “Redheads: Is This It?”, Emojipedia, November–2018. 
48.
Sandra Garcia E, “Afro Emojis Don’t Exist. These Women Want to Change That.”, New York Times, March–2019. 
49.
Cara Curtis, “It’s about Time We Got Afro Emoji — These Women Are Making It Happen”, TNW, April–2019. 
50.
Katherine Gillespie, “Support This Change.Org Campaign for Afro Emojis”, Paper, March–2019. 
51.
Rhianna Jones, “Let’s Make the Afro Hair Emoji Happen #AfroHairMatters”, change.Org, 2019. 
52.
Jeremy Burge, “Emoji Version 12.0”, Emojipedia, 2019. 
53.
Gary Pendergast, “WordPress 5.2 Beta 2”, WordPress.Org, 2019. 
54.
Josepha, “WordPress 5.2 Release Candidate”, WordPress.Org, 2019. 
55.
Mark Davis and Peter Edberg, “Unicode Technical Report #51: Unicode Emoji (version 1.0)”, Unicode.Org, 2015. 
56.
Peter Edberg and Mark Davis, “Unicode Technical Standard #51: Unicode Emoji (version 12.0)”, Unicode.Org, 2019. 
*
As of Emoji 5.0, the complete list of gendered emoji was as follows:

  • BOY (👦)
  • GIRL (👧)
  • MAN (👨)
  • WOMAN (👩)
  • OLD MAN (👴)
  • OLD WOMAN (👵)
  • MAN AND WOMAN HOLDING HANDS (👫)
  • TWO MEN HOLDING HANDS (👬)
  • TWO WOMEN HOLDING HANDS (👭)
  • SANTA CLAUS (🎅)
  • MRS. CLAUS (🤶)
  • PRINCESS (👸)
  • PRINCE (🤴)
  • WOMAN DANCING (💃)
  • MAN DANCING (🕺)
  • BRIDE WITH VEIL (👰)
  • MAN IN TUXEDO (🤵)
  • PREGNANT WOMAN (🤰)
  • BREAST-FEEDING (🤱)
  • WOMAN WITH HEADSCARF (🧕)
  • MAN IN BUSINESS SUIT LEVITATING (🕴️)
  • MAN WITH CHINESE CAP (👲)
     
Alright, I’ll spell it out: ISO/IEC JTC/SC2/WG2 is Working Group 2 of the Coded Character Sets standardization subcommittee of Joint Technical Committee 1 of the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission. 
See part 1 of this series for more on emoji’s origins in Japan
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‘👱’ was originally slated to be called “WESTERN PERSON”, before it was renamed to the more literal “PERSON WITH BLOND HAIR”.24 
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Even after Unicode had reverted to the ZWJ-based system for hair colour, some commentators continued to take issue with it. In a submission to the Unicode Consortium, one Michael Everson pointed out that TOP OF HEAD WITH RED/CURLY/NO/WHITE HAIR, as the new emoji were to be called, was ripe for abuse:

These are, no matter what anyone wants to pretend, disembodied human scalps, and scalping is the barbarous act of cutting or tearing a part of the human scalp, with hair attached, from the head of an enemy as a trophy. If we encode these four characters as-is, they will be found and misused[.]45

The new glyphs were duly renamed to EMOJI COMPONENT RED HAIR/WHITE HAIR/CURLY HAIR/BALD. 

Emoji 12.0 support was slated to arrive in WordPress on April 30th, but has since been pushed back to May 7th.53,54 

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