With the release of the iPhone 7 and the new iOS 10 software update many were waiting, breathe held, for the release of one of the single-most beloved technological advancements: new emojis. Originating in Japan in the late 1990’s on Japanese mobile phones only, they started as an ideogram or simple smiley face to further ones expression while texting. Since Apple’s inclusion of the emoji with their OS X software and later iOS, emojis have been a game changer. They allow for more self-expression, humor, and overall color to ones text communications.
With each update of the software new emojis have been added allowing for some to communicate solely through emojis–if that’s your thing. The evolution of the simple smile is something even Picasso would take note of. From the two nondescript dots for eyes, and one right parenthetical for a slight upturn smile, to now holding down on a given face, male or female, allowing you to change the individual’s hair color, skin color, and even cultural/ethnic garb. Almost all individuals can now find themselves present in an emoji. Key word, almost.
As a young girl growing up in the ethnically diverse hills of Northern California, I was surrounded by an array of skin colors, and hair colors, each one more beautiful and unique from the other. I can recall vividly going over to my best friend Suki’s house so that we could play with her newest Barbie doll. She was so excited to share with us that Barbie had finally made a Japanese Barbie. She showed us her Barbie’s beautiful silky black hair, holding it up to her face beaming that she too finally had a doll that looked like her.
As my mom picked me up from that playdate I asked my mom if we could look for a Barbie that looked like me, as I was very jealous of Suki’s newest doll. Sometime later I found myself on an adventure to Target with my mom and in the doll aisle. As we roamed the aisle looking at each new doll and admiring the beautiful clothes and newest additions to the Barbie world, my excitement slowly faded. My mom tried to console my little spirit by holding up the Ariel dolls, saying, “See! Here you go! She has red hair like you.” I knew she was just trying to help, but I couldn’t help saying dejectedly, “Mom. She has a fin. And is a mermaid. She’s not even real.”
I am a natural redhead and a real one. I’m not talking that, “Oh I’m blonde, but I’m going to say I’m strawberry blonde” or salon or boxed dyed–no shame in hair dying. No, I’m talking red that we should really be called ‘orange-ish redheads’. So ‘orange-ish red’ that I have never owned a single piece of orange clothing and I almost didn’t want to join my sorority in college because it required wearing a red dress for various functions. As a young child growing up, the only redhead I ever saw on TV was indeed Ariel from the Little Mermaid, making me think for a short period of time that I must be a mermaid too, then. Dreams crushed.
When Lindsay Lohan came onto the scene in the underrated remake of Parent Trap I finally felt represented. Like there were others, besides my two brothers, who had red hair, like me. It’s not that I am not proud to be a redhead–I definitely am, but there is something to be said as a little kid growing up how you just want to feel normal. You want to feel like you belong, and sadly, at times, we turn to our world of entertainment to find ourselves represented and reflected. I understand that redheads are something of a rare breed, being a recessive gene and all, but our lack of representation in media and toys and dolls has felt at times oppressive, but mainly saddening.
With this newest iPhone 7 and iOS software update I felt like my 6-year-old self again, waiting with bated breath for the release of new emojis. With the last few updates, the newest emojis have finally allowed for almost all races and ethnicities to be present, promoting a sense of inclusion in our texting and communications world. As my phone finally came back to life after the 30 minute update, my right index finger quickly tapped the upper-left hand corner of my phone, and tapped again once on the ever-inviting smiley face in the lower left-hand corner. Swiping right, my shoulders slumped and lips curved down, as I once again felt the let down of not finding something that looked like me. No readhead emoji.
Tim Cook, I know you’re reading this. Please add the redhead emoji. My fellow male and female redheads just want a little pale face, maybe with some freckles, and bright, vibrant orangeish-red locks. Pretty please. Its 2016, and scientists have predicted that redheads are a dying breed. So while some of us still roam this planet, just give us an emoji (insert smile emoji with sweat bead and praying hands).