A proposal to create a woman's flat shoe emoji is up for a vote by the Unicode Consortium's Emoji Subcomittee on October 23rd. If approved, it would add a blue ballet flat to what — besides a gender-neutral brown oxford and a white sneaker — are currently only high-heeled emoji.
It would also signal another step forward in the efforts to mitigate sexist and gendered imagery in what has become the international visual language.
According to Jennifer 8 Lee, who is vice-chair of the ESC and a co-founder of the Emojination organization, which helps people propose new emoji, the likelihood that the woman's flat shoe will "make it through" — meaning be approved to become a new emoji in June 2018 — "is pretty high."
This comes at a time when dressing up (or down, as the case may be) can be a polarizing, or downright controversial, decision. Witness Melania Trump tiptoeing toward a hurricane-bound helicopter in August, or Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Ivanka Trump reading to schoolchildren while wearing vertiginous stilettos in July.
That's in contrast to Gal Gadot, who in May wore flats throughout her Wonder Woman press tour, and Kristen Stewart, who spoke out the same month against the Cannes Film Festival's dictum against women wearing flats: "People get very upset at you if you don't wear heels or whatever," she told the Hollywood Reporter. "If you're not asking guys to wear heels and a dress then you can't ask me either."
The pushback against what can be an uncompromising, restrictive dress code is right up there with wearing a pantsuit as a nod to feminist activism. To wit: Evan Rachel Wood's year of red-carpet suiting. "I myself felt pressure a lot of times that I had to look or dress a certain way, especially growing up in the industry," Wood told Vanity Fair. "I thought I would go the other way and reach out to a little girl who is like me, possibly."
This follows Google's May 2016 call for a more balanced representation of genders and professions in emoji, and the introduction in June of three non-gendered emoji (a child, an adult, and an elder).