The other day I was texting a friend who was having an exceptionally bad day and jokingly suggested that the best way to cheer up might be a bit of goat yoga (yes, this is actually a thing). Of course, being the modern woman I am, my next move was to search for the appropriate emojis.
Goat? Yes, sure, but I was shocked that the best I could do for yoga was a little guy doing what looked like a cartwheel. With an activity popular enough to spawn a goat sub-style, certainly there should be an emoji to illustrate it, right?
Apparently, the masterminds of emojis agree that our available repertoire needs a little updating. That's why Unicode, the consortium of tech companies that oversees emojis, is releasing a new batch of 69 this month. The much-anticipated update has plenty of tell us about what's essential to convey in 2017, as well as offering plenty of random LOLs.
Yoga, breastfeeding and hijabs
Along with assorted weird and whimsical additions -- those who love giraffes, crickets, broccoli, and hedgehogs, your emoji prayers have been answered! -- the latest collection of emojis also illustrates some of the concerns obsessing us at the moment.
A new emoji wearing a headscarf, another intentionally designed to be of ambiguous gender, a breastfeeding woman, and an older emoji are all examples. Each speaks to the push to represent a broader range of human experiences in our text-based conversations.
Nationalist sentiments (and sports team loyalties) within the UK can now be reflected by new Scotland and Wales flags. Increasing numbers of yoga, meditation, and climbing enthusiasts are also good to go too thanks to this release. Whether responding to social change or fitness trends, all of the above reflect the shifting mix of our everyday lives.
What's up with the oddballs?
Of course, far from all the emojis can be explained as a mirror of society. We haven't, at least to the best of my knowledge, seen a spike to hedgehog numbers. Nor have mermaids, dumplings, or curling grown wildly more popular. Yet all of these things make their emoji debut with this release. How do these more oddball choices get picked?
In short, they'e almost always somebody's oddball passion project. "There's a story behind almost every emoji," explains Neal Ungerleider in Fast Company. For instance, the dumpling emoji is the brainchild of Jennifer Lee, organizer of Emojicon and Emojination.
"In 2015, I realized that there's no dumpling emoji," Li explains. "I was completely baffled by that--dumplings are a universal food; every culture has a dumpling! You have pierogis, ravioli, pelmeni. I thought whatever system in place was broken if there was no dumpling emoji!" Thus a full-throated campaign to secure the dumpling its rightful place in the emoji pantheon was begun.
Check out Ungerleider's complete article for more details on the process of choosing and rolling out emojis (as well as insight into why they look different on different platforms). Or for the really committed emoji enthusiasts out there, here 's a video showcase of all 69 new additions:
What missing emoji have you been waiting for?