With new hair colour on the agenda, emoji users might soon be seeing red

The Unicode Consortium, the organisation that controls which emojis make the cut, will discuss redheads later this week

With new hair colour on the agenda, emoji users might soon be seeing red


Tech-savvy carrot tops rejoice, redheads might soon be included in the emoji character set.

According to the technology website The Verge, a new report from Emojipedia claims that when the Unicode Consortium, the body that regulates how all communication is displayed on computer screens, meets this week, they will discuss the addition of redheaded emoji to their already stuffed suite.

The meeting will take place at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California, with the selection of new emoji styles on the agenda. Emojipedia, an online register of every emoji across all operating systems, has been officially lobbying the consortium to add redheads since 2015.

According to the site, the lack of ginger male and female characters is the most frequent complaint topic submitted by its users over the last three months, despite less than 2% of the world’s population having the hair colour.

Easier said than done

Introducing the redheaded variant to the public is not as easily said as done, according to Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge, who has outlined a number of options that the Unicode Consortium can consider when its members meet this week.


The most straightforward option would be to add the hair colour to all the pre-existing “people with hair” emojis, which already offer a number of different skin tones and hair colours. Otherwise, the body could choose to implement a tagging system, which would allow users to add any skin tone to any hair colour, which would then be spread across any emoji displaying a human being.

The consortium will also discuss whether or not to introduce a new skin tone, with a paler shade of white skin up for consideration.

The history of emoji

Even if the Unicode Consortium decides to introduce the redheaded emoji to its suite, they will most likely not become available to the public until 2018 at the earliest, with no guarantees that they will get the go ahead at all.

Emoji were first created by Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita in 1999, designed to entire younger users to the pager market. An immediate hit with Japanese user, it took more than a decade for them to find popularity in other developed countries, but are now regularly used to augment meaning and create nuance in text-to-text messaging services.

In October last year, New York’s world-famous Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced that it had acquired an original set of the first emoji for its permanent collection.

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