Gina Vaynshteyn
July 22, 2014 2:09 pm

You may have noticed that when you go pick out an emoji to properly and fully express yourself, you don’t have a huge variety of options to choose from. Okay yeah, you have the poop face, a poodle, shrimp tempura, and 12 different versions of a heart, but what you don’t have is a non-white, or non-heterosexual persona. Seems pretty simple to add, right? I mean, it’s 2014, how hard could it be to create an African-American face? Or a Latina/o face? Or a Middle Eastern face? Or an Asian face? Or two women holding hands? Or an interracial couple? Those additions seem pretty fundamental and the lack thereof severely misrepresents our diverse population. Although Apple has vowed to create more diverse emojis, they still haven’t come through. That’s where Katrina Parrott comes in.

A former Program Manager at NASA, Parrott decided to use her free time to create iDiversicons, “an app that offers over 900 diverse emoticons ranging from same sex and interracial couples to varying dog breeds and facial expressions.” The app offers hand gestures and symbols, but unlike the emoji app we have now, these gestures and symbols come in different skin tones. iDiversicons also promotes gender equality in the workforce and challenges stereotypes; Parrott created emojis such as female construction workers, and male nurses. You can use these emojis everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, text, Instagram, and e-mail.

When her daughter asked, “Why don’t emoticons look like the person sending them?” Parrott was inspired to lead the initiative to equally represent all races and sexual orientations, so she created iDiversicons. As an African American women, Parrott and her daughter wanted to use emojis that actually looked like them. So, Parrott bought the Apple’s Developer Program, hired someone who would help her illustrate, and taught herself how to create emojis. Um, yeah. That’s pretty badass.

iDiversicons has been available to us since October (how have we not known?!), but in May, Parrott raised over $2,000 to make her app even better; iDiversicons is now compatible with Android. Although it’s not as simple to use as regular emojis (you have to actually go into the app, find the image, highlight, copy, and paste the icon into the text box), it’s well worth the 45-second effort.

So, what now? Well, Parrott actually pitched iDiversicons to the Unicode Technical Committee (the “official” emoji people) in May, and in August she’ll meet with them to discuss options in implementing her app to the Unicode keyboard. However, adding her images to the Unicode keyboard will take time; it involves a two-step process that can take up to two years. HOWEVER, making an iDiversicons keyboard wouldn’t be as difficult or time-consuming. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Besides the fact that Parrott has created the first diverse emojis that finally represent a 21st century, progressive society, and speak volumes for racial, gender, and sexual equality, she’s also taking requests from users. For instance, she heard our cries over the lack of hot dog emojis, and you know what? SHE MADE IT HAPPEN. While we’re on the subject, can we pretty please make the unicorn emoji happen? 

Images via Kickstarter, Google

Advertisement