Emoji may be the best thing to happen to communication since the invention of the GIF keyboard, but unfortunately, they tend to adhere to totally yawn-worthy gender stereotypes — unless you use Facebook Messenger. Earlier this week, the app introduced more diverse options, and you might have some questions: How do you use the new Facebook Messenger women emoji? Which emoji are affected by the change? Will anyone ever explain why the emoji lady raising one hand looks so smug?
You're on your own for the latter, but the first two questions have easy answers. Even aside from the more diverse options, the update brings a number of changes to Messenger emoji: First of all, it standardizes the beloved cartoons across platforms, so you won't have to worry about the meaning of your message getting lost between iOS, Android, or other operating systems. It also makes emoji more accessible; the emoji keyboard, so to speak, has been moved to the far left of the composer, so you can switch between text and emoji fairly easily.
However, the increase in diversity is what everyone's talking about, and for good reason. Among the 1,500 new designs are gender-neutral options, the ability to choose different skin colors, and five new emoji featuring women in roles previously occupied by men: Police Officer, Swimmer, Jogger, Surfer, and Pedestrian.
On the surface, it may not seem like a big deal, but emoji are enormously popular. According to the Social Times, 92 percent of the online population used emoji in 2015, and Digiday reports that billions of the pictograms are sent around the world every day. Women are actually more likelt to use emoji than men, but until recently, male figures were the default for anything that wasn't a stereotypically female activity, like cutting hair or dancing. Language both represents and informs culture, and the lack of diversity in emoji speaks volumes about how society treats women and people of color.
But if you use Messenger — and in all likelihood, you probably do — there are finally options that better represent the population in terms of ethnicity and gender. This brings me to the question of the day: How do you use the new lady emoji? The answer is absurdly simple.
1. Update The App
The app should update on its own, but if the new emoji aren't showing up on your keyboard, make sure you have the latest version of Messenger. (The most recent update was released on June 1, 2016.) Unfortunately, it might take a few days for the new emoji to show up on everyone's phones; mine didn't show up until this morning. If you're updated and the emoji still aren't showing up, be patient for a few days.
2. Find The Emoji Picker
The emoji keyboard is now located on the far left side of the middle of the screen.
3. Scroll To Find The New Options
Now that you've found the emoji, start hunting for the new lady options. There are only five so far — again, they're the Police Officer, Swimmer, Jogger, Surfer, and Pedestrian — so it shouldn't take too long. The first time you use the emoji, it'll ask you to select a default skin tone. If you change your mind later, just long press on the emoji until the options show up again.
There you have it — enjoy your newly diverse method of communication!
Images: Viktor Solomin/Stocksy, Claire Warner/Bustle (3)