On 16 July 2021 — a day before World Emoji Day — Google announced that the bikini emoji, along with 991 other emoji, will be revamped to promote body inclusivity among its billions of users. The new set of emoji will be rolled out this Fall 2021, accompanying the anticipated Android 12.
Currently, the bikini emoji resembles a curvy ghost wearing a two-piece swimsuit. But that will be changed to a flat lay version of the swimwear.
Different one-piece swimsuit emoji configurations for various platforms
The original bikini emoji drew flak from female body positivity advocates. Jennifer 8. Lee, co-founder of emoji inclusivity company Emojination and Art Media Strategist Florie Hutchinson called for a one-piece swimsuit to be made an emoji in 2018 and sent a proposal for it to the Unicode Consortium, the non-profit organisation responsible for standardising emoji.
Hutchinson clarified that she does not have any qualms about two-piece swimwear, but she feels that women should have more options when it comes to communicating about wardrobe on digital platforms.
“I have worn them [bikinis]. But not every woman or girl wants to wear one, and they should have the ability to make another choice. I wanted my girls [daughters], when they got old enough to have their own smartphones, to be able to see both, side by side,” said Hutchinson.
Despite the clear reasoning behind the one-piece emoji, others failed to wrap their heads around the concept. Michael Everson, a member of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and co-author of the Unicode Standard, saw the proposal as unnecessary.
“Why? A person wanting to indicate the use of swimwear can’t use the existing BIKINI? Is this really necessary? What about a Victorian bathing costume? Or a wet suit? Or water wings?” Everson questioned.
Andrew West, who was in the same ISO emoji subcommittee as Everson, advised for the one-piece swimsuit emoji suggestion to be scrapped.
In the face of mixed reactions, the monokini became an official emoji in 2019.
In 2017, Hutchinson successfully led the efforts to include a flat shoe counterpart to the famous red stiletto emoji. The flats were a part of the Emoji 11.0 update released a year later.
Just like her campaign for the flats emoji, the push for a one-piece swimsuit to be incorporated into the catalogue of emoji called for less sexualised means to convey ideas about female fashion.
During the pandemic, emojis played an important role in online communication. This month, Emojipedia revealed that 5 billion emojis are sent on Facebook Messenger on a daily basis.
Its report also shed light on how Asians like to keep up with all things emoji, as proven by India and the Philippines, which ranked 5th and 7th in the list of top 10 countries with the most visitors to Emojipedia.
Emojipedia is a site where people can understand the meaning of emoji.
Written by Sophia Lopez