November 14th 2022

Challenging the Nerd Emoji

Lowri Moore, the British schoolgirl who got Disney to create a heroine with glasses in their hit Encanto, has set her sights on challenging the popular “nerd face” emoji, which she says perpetuates stigma against glasses wearing.

In 2019, aged just 9, Lowri Moore, from Nottinghamshire, England, wrote a letter to Disney asking them to represent more glasses wearers in their films. Two years later, Mirabel Madrigal of Encanto burst onto our screens – proudly wearing her glasses. Encanto director Jared Bush said he had been inspired by Lowri, telling her “I am your biggest fan. I am so impressed by you.”

Last month, on October 13th, World Sight Day October, Lowri announced a new campaign to change the perception of glasses wearers starting with emojis – urging more emojis with glasses instead of the ‘nerd’ emoji.

According to research, some 10 billion emojis are sent each day showcasing just how integral they are to how we communicate. 92% of the world’s online population use emoji in their communications – and the consortium Unicode defines the characters that make those human connections possible.

Writing to Unicode, Lowri urged that there should be an option to add glasses to all emoji faces.

Currently, the only emojis with glasses on platforms such as Apple and WhatsApp are the nerd emoji and the teacher emoji.  The young campaigner argues that the nerd emoji perpetuates a “negative stereotype” of people who wear glasses which can be both untrue and harmful.

In the letter, she says: “Unfortunately, the only glasses wearing emoji I can find is a nerd face […] As I’m sure you know, people who wear glasses are not nerds. But unless we address this, there’s a chance the next generation will grow up believing this lie about themselves.”

Announcing the campaign #GlassesOn on a visit to a local secondary school she interacted with pupils to gain their views.  One pupil said: “When I realised I needed glasses, I actually didn’t want to wear them at all. I thought I wasn’t going to be cool. I thought everyone looked cool without glasses, so it made me feel left out.”

Another stated: “Glasses are an everyday thing and it’s just not fair to not see it on an emoji. I want to express myself with a glasses emoji because that’s who I am.”

There have been lots of improvements to the diversity of emojis over the years including ones that better represent people with disabilities and options to change skin colour.

Lowri’s campaign is asking for the option to add glasses to all face emojis, similar to changing skin colour and hair colour.

She told the Unicode Consortium: “You have the power to help us change this and that is why I am reaching out to you to ask for your help.”

For more information about Lowri and her #GlassesOn campaign, you can visit Lowri Moore’s official website.

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