Rayouf Alhumedhi is a 15-year-old Muslim student living in Berlin, Germany. Earlier this year, she decided to start a group chat with her friends — hoping to title it using emojis. Unfortunately, she realized that none of the cartoon-like figures on her keyboard truly represented her, not even with the new iOS 10 updates to the emoji keyboard.
Rayouf wears a hijab — like 550 million other Muslim women. Yet there hasn't been an emoji created to represent them. So, the young teen decided to do something about it.
According to Buzzfeed, she first wrote an email to Apple's customer help. After never hearing back, she did more research and found something called the Unicode Consortium through Mashable. This technical organization is involved in creating emojis and processing new proposals.
"I honestly didn't know what to expect," she told BuzzFeed in an interview. "[I] kind of couldn't believe they'd see it or even talk about it — all I wrote was a short paragraph."
But miraculously, Rayouf caught Unicode's attention. An emoji subcommittee member quickly responded, showing her how to create a formal proposal. No wonder, because her proposal was spot-on.
"The addition of the hijab emoji will prove to be a step forward in tolerance and diversity," Alhumedhi wrote.
Excited about the opportunity, the enthusiastic teen created a seven-page document, detailing why she thought it was time the world had a hijab emoji.
"The most I've written are lab reports at school, so this was really a new experience for me," she said.
But don't be fooled. Not only does Rayouf's proposal have mockups of the potential emojis, it is also chock-full of interesting research, providing a solid basis for why having these emojis is necessary.
She explains how these emojis would predominately be used in Muslim countries, including Indonesia, which is not only the fourth most populated country in the world but is also home to 202 million Muslims.
She also argued that when she searched for the term "hijab" on Instagram, 15.6 million photos surfaced. But the term "turban" only accrued 732,000 photos. Yet a turban emoji does exist.
Several members from the emoji subcommittee are still assisting Rayouf tweak her proposal before a formal submission. That said, it has already caught the eye of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who has decided to sponsor it.
"Five hundred and fifty million women pride themselves in wearing a headscarf — and it's not just Muslims, but Orthodox Jews and Christians, too," Rayouf says. "That there could be something to represent them — that this image could be given to people all around the world — it's amazing and incredible if I could be the person to help do that."