As Someone Who Was Bullied For Their Hair, The Ginger Emoji Means A Lot To Me

Why did we get zombies, fairies and genies before a simple ginger emoji?

Finally, an emoji that looks like me!

After signing petitions and tweeting numerous times about (what I am calling) red hair rage, we are finally getting a ginger emoji! For some emoji users this might go unnoticed, but the ginger community all over the world are celebrating the fact that we are finally represented in the emoji world.

As of June 2017, there were a totally of 266 emojis and none of these included a ginger emoji. The best we had is a mermaid, flame, or my personal favourite, the lion!


The last emoji update was regarded as a huge step forward for total representation, including a range of skin tones, same sex couples and families. But what’s missing? Did you spot it? Spoiler alert: the ginger emoji was absent from the 2015 update.

Finally, in 2018, we are expecting a ginger emoji. I am over the moon about this. It feels like a huge step forward in representation.

I grew up struggling to accept my hair colour during primary and secondary school. I was bullied on a daily basis for the colour of my hair and the constant hatred of something I couldn’t change made me internalise what I was being told. I grew to hate my hair because everyone else did.

Many years after school, I can shout from the rooftops that I am ginger and proud. I love my hair and all the one of a kind details that come with it. For example, I haven’t met anyone with the same shade as me (or my fellow ginger sister.) I love my freckles and how the colour of my iris is the same as my hair. It is also the perfect accessory—I rely on my hair to be the finishing touch to many of my outfits.

I have also been blessed to be given the opportunity to model, and was chosen because of the colour of my hair. Also, I often get told by hairdressers and random people how much they love my hair (insert sassy ginger emoji). And most importantly, I will always have an easy fancy dress costume: “Red hair and a hand-me-down robe... You must be a Weasley”.

Today marks the release of the ginger emoji through Unicode. We are likely to see them appear on Twitter first, followed by other social media platforms, and then finally on iOS/Android.

The wait is nearly over! But while we wait, is it worth considering why we got zombies, fairies and genies before a simple ginger emoji? How is it creatures that don’t exist were prioritised over people that do? We may be a minority, but are we really less represented than things you hear about in fairytales and The Walking Dead?


Also worth mentioning is the use of ginger representation in TV and film. Firstly, the villains: Chuckie from Child’s Play 1 & 2 and Buddy Pine/Syndrome from The Incredibles. Here, ginger is being used as part of a character to display some sort of evil. But there are also heroes: the Weasley family from Harry Potter, Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Princess Merida from Brave. Now, how about in real life? Ginger Prince, Prince Harry.

A few weeks ago, the world rejoiced when a ginger Prince got married, millions of us watched and yet we could not accurately represent him in emoji speak. When I got married last year I would have loved a ginger bride emoji to send to everyone in my contacts, but I had to settle for the blonde bride.

Up until now I have found it really upsetting that we have been excluded from this narrative for almost as long as emojis have existed. Because of the experiences I went through, I see the ginger emoji as a huge step forward of normalising ginger hair. I won’t be able to forget the bullying I received as a child, but being able to use a ginger emoji for the first time will be an amazing moment for me, and I hope it will be the same for fellow gingers.


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