15-year-old girl is advocating for a hijab emoji, since millions of women wear headscarfs
As the Muslim community continues to struggle against heightened Islamophobia from the right-wing and a certain Republican presidential candidate, it’s become increasingly important for society to recognize they’re neither dangerous nor outsiders. And in a society that pretty much revolves around smartphones and social media, the best way to accomplish this is through representing Muslims through hijab emojis. Emoji keyboards have become increasingly inclusive over the past years, updated to offer a range of skin color options on the iPhone, and one 15-year-old Muslim girl in Berlin recently dedicated her artistic talents and impressive woke-ness to developing a fabulous set of hijab emojis.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Rayouf Alhumedhi told the outlet she was inspired when she noticed her keyboard included a wide range of emojis featuring various headwear, from fedoras to Santa hats, but there were no options for turbans or hijabs. Alhumedhi wears a hijab herself, along with 550 million other women around the world, and hijab emojis have specifically been requested more than 100 times on EmojiRequest.com.
Recognizing the importance of representation and inclusiveness of all kinds of people, Alhumedhi set to work.
The 15-year-old wrote to Apple and received no response, but didn’t stop there. She reached out to the Unicode Consortium, the organization handling new emoji proposals, and the group offered her guidance on how to submit a proposal and encouraged her to do so.
The idea has since piqued the interest of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who set up a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) for Alhumedhi to share and garner support for her project.
Sure, it could be argued that maybe, to some, emojis aren’t a huge deal. But to Alhumedhi, it’s about women who are so frequently misunderstood and misrepresented being included, and the possibility that her proposal could soon reach millions of keyboards is “a huge achievement,” she told BuzzFeed.
“550 million woman pride themselves in wearing a headscarf — and it’s not just Muslims but Orthodox Jews and Christians, too,” she added. “That there could be something to represent them — that this image could be given to people all around the world — it’s amazing and incredible if I could be the person to help do that.”
Alhumedhi plans on submitting her proposal soon, and is currently revising it to address feedback she’s received. Prior to embarking on this journey, Alhumedhi told Buzzfeed the most she’d ever written was lab reports for school, and explained “this was really a new experience” for her. Alhumedhi is proof that, cliche as it may sound, anyone is capable of being the change they want to see in the world. And to any haters (likely white, alt-right bros circling Reddit) who may confront her, I must ask: what were you doing when you were 15?