What Emoji Will 2021 Bring?

A new selection of emoji drafts released in celebration of World Emoji Day on July 17 (courtesy Emojipedia)

A melting face, sensual biting lip, and gender-inclusive representations of pregnancy are some of the candidates for the upcoming emoji release, revealed this week ahead of World Emoji Day on July 17.

With an ongoing mission to represent the full range of human gestures and emotions, the new emoji batch also includes a saluting face, a face holding back the tears, and a hand-covered face with a peeking eye illustrating a person who doesn’t want to see something but can’t help looking. There’s also an array of hand gestures in various skin tones, including “heart hands” and an accusatory pointing finger. However, these emoji are still pending approval by the Unicode Consortium in September. Some might be changed or removed in the process, but they give us an idea of what to look for in the fall.

A personal favorite is the long-overdue mirror disco ball, which provides a much-needed alternative to the trite party popper emoji (). I’m also fond of the Hamsa emoji (a talisman to cast off the evil eye) because so many of us are weak with envy.

Demands for more diversity and inclusion in emoji have taken center stage in the conversation about the digital icons in recent years. In April, Adobe’s Global Emoji Diversity & Inclusion report found that the overwhelming majority of people worldwide think that the current range of emojis still fails to represent their full spectrum of identities. In the United States and the United Kingdom, 80% of Black emoji users, 78% of Latinx emoji users, and 71% of Asian emoji users wished for more emoji options that reflect their personal identities. Of LGBTQ+ global emoji users, 72% expressed a desire for more customization options.

This move toward the inclusion of all identities is illustrated in a racially diverse selection of icons representing pregnancy, including trans men and nonbinary people. According to research, transgender men and transmasculine people get pregnant at rates similar to people who identify as women and even have more planned pregnancies than cisgender women.

Speaking of child-rearing, I’m personally drawn to two new emojis representing an empty nest and a nest with eggs. Also included in the new emoji release: spilled water, a lotus flower, ID card, beans, and a troll. Which is your favorite?

Personally, I think we’re still missing emojis that represent a whole range of feelings and modes of being like longing, solitude, and bliss, or food items like shawarma and smoothies. Also, why isn’t there an emoji for god or divinity? Here’s looking to 2022.

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