This year, media strategist Floriane Hutchinson has been campaigning for the emoji Unicode dictionary to include a more practical women’s shoe in its list of digital icons. In her proposal, Hutchinson asks the makers of emoji characters to include a ballet flat alongside the red stiletto currently used to represent women’s shoes.
“The high-heeled stiletto is highly suggestive,” wrote Hutchinson, adding that out of the five shoe types currently offered by the emoji dictionary, all the icons that are explicitly female have high heels.
As an alternative, Hutchinson teamed with graphic designer Aphee Messer (she also designed the much-discussed hijabi emoji) to create an emoji depicting a ballet flat with a small bow at the front in a variety of colors.
“A flat shoe would help pave the way to a more gender-nonsexualized pictorial representation of the footwear category,” wrote Hutchinson, who happens to have a PR client that sells flats.
Still, Hutchinson is passionate about the ballet flat emoji — she feels it would help send the message that women can be feminine without wearing sexualized shoes.
“The emoji proposal is about correcting gender biases—which come in all forms, and often times, in the least expected ways — and trying to offer options to those groups who want to be part of the evolution of this language,” Hutchinson told Footwear News.
The Unicode Consortium receives approximately 100 emoji proposals a year and releases those that make the cut in June. But those rooting for the flat have just a few more weeks to wait — in November, Unicode will reveal the emojis it plans to roll out in the coming summer.