13-year-old who inspired Encanto calls on emojis for better representation on World Sight Day
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A 13-year-old has written a letter to the technology company in charge of emojis to demand better representation for glasses-wearers.
Today, 13 October on World Sight Day, Lowri Moore has launched a global campaign calling on Mark Davis, the President of Unicode Consortium - the body responsible for all emojis - for a more varied range of glass-wearing emojis.
The 13-year-old is no stranger to calling on companies to make significant changes surrounding representation, having written a letter to Disney at the age of nine.
UNILAD caught up with Lowri and her mum about what inspired the 13-year-old to address the gap in glasses-wearing representation in technology and how 'LITTLE people CAN make a BIG difference'.
Lowri and her mum, Cyrilyn, first realised there isn't a very varied representation of emojis which wear glasses when Cyrilyn tried to find an emoji to accurately represent her daughter, but only found the 'nerd face, granny and the teacher'.
The mum and daughter duo found this strange, given how there's 'lots of representation for everything else' such as the option of changing hair colour of emojis.
The 13-year-old reflected: "It seems there's one thing that's not on there. I don't think there's anything else which hasn't been represented except for that."
im wearing my glasses and my siblings kee[p calling me the nerd emoji— cac / isa 𖤐 (@cacophoniced) October 5, 2022
In order to explain the feeling she had when she first realised there was no emoji which accurately represented her, Lowri used the analogy: "Imagine you get your glasses for the first time and you're texting your friend. You're telling them you just got glasses and you're a bit self conscious of what other people will think.
"You're nervous and you're trying to find an emoji that represents you. But all you find is the nerd or the granny or the teacher. The nerd in particular has a negative connotation."
Instead of there just being one main glasses-wearing emoji, 'the nerd' face, Lowri hopes the 'original emoji' can have a glasses option too so there's an icon which doesn't have such negative connotations.
Negative connotations which can have a severe impact on children's mental wellbeing, with a study revealing children are 30 percent more likely to be bullied if they wear glasses.
@USMNT @cpulisic_10 This is my son Austin, and it’s his first year every playing soccer and he is beyond excited, but now he wants to quit, because he keeps getting bullied for his glasses and kids saying it’s a not a manly sport, please give him a pep talk to keep believing. pic.twitter.com/Jjfw4021ua— Taylor Holland (@tholland_2015) October 6, 2022
Lowri visited a school in Burton last week to ask other children what they think of the lack of representation of glasses wearers in emojis.
"When I got glasses, there was a certain person who told me that I looked like a nerd wearing glasses, so I stopped wearing them for a month," one pupil said.
Another stated: "Glasses are an everyday thing and it's not fair to not see it on an emoji when I want to express myself with a glasses emoji because that's who I am."
Lowri also asked fellow pupils to draw their own versions of what they would like such an emoji with glasses to look like.
"You know, all they did was put glasses on them and they looked like they're meant to be on them. It doesn't actually look out of place." Lowri's mum reflected.
All the children from the school signed a big board in support of Lowri's letter to Davis.
The 13-year-old took it to the post office on Thursday, 6 October and it was sent off the next day.
Lowri's open letter reads: "I am 13 years old and I live in Nottingham, UK. Being a teenager, I am on my phone a lot and I love to use emojis. I’ve noticed that you have recently added lots of options to represent people better, thank you for doing that. I think it’s really important that people can find an emoji that looks like them.
"I’ve worn glasses all my life and I can’t see a thing without them. So my glasses are really a part of me. Unfortunately, the only glasses wearing emoji I can find is a nerd face (unless you are a granny or a teacher) and I wondered if this is something you could please change.
"[...] As I’m sure you know, people who wear glasses are not nerds. But unless we address this, there’s a chance the next generation will grow up believing this lie about themselves. You have the power to help us change this and that is why I am reaching out to you to ask for your help."
Lowri is yet to hear back, but hopes the box will be hard to ignore.
"I mean, it's a big box with a board of people signatures. If you got that in your office, you wouldn't ignore it, would you?" she said.
This isn't the first time Lowri has been inspired to write to a company and demand better representation for glasses-wearers either.
At the age of nine years old, Lowri went to her mum and questioned why she'd never seen a Disney princess wearing glasses.
After her mum was unable to answer her question and time passed, Lowri decided to directly ask the company and wrote a letter to Disney in the Christmas holidays.
The then nine-year-old told Disney it wasn't 'fair for little girls' to not know 'glasses are okay' and it's 'actually cool' to wear glasses. "She said, 'I'd like to make a change so that they don't grow up feeling the same way that I did about myself'," Cyrilyn explained.
Lowri's mum added: "She was standing up on behalf of all glasses-wearers everywhere and saying, its something not many people are talking about but I'm willing to make a stand for this because it's really important that we see this kind of change."
Disney didn't write back to Lowri, however, after Cyrilyn posted Lowri's letter on social media, it ended up going viral.
Lowri's determination aged nine to see better representation in Disney films led to the character of Mirabel in Encanto being created - a film Lowri loves and praises as 'very inclusive'.
However, the 13-year-old and her mum hope it's not 'like a ticked box' for Disney to say it's 'done that now'.
Encanto's Mirabel is the first main Disney animated female character to wear glasses. pic.twitter.com/VDLwETILT0— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) July 18, 2022
Despite her campaigning, Lowri's relationship with her own glasses hasn't always been easy.
She 'can't even remember the first time' she got glasses because she's worn them 'all [her] life'.
While she appreciates being able to 'see,' Lowri admitted she did go through 'a period of time' where she questioned why she was the only one in her family to wear glasses.
"I did go through a stage of being like, 'Oh, why do they wear glasses? And why am I the only one, am I not cool?'
"But now, I love them. I just wear them as like an accessory," she said.
"She wears the same pair all the time, despite the fact she has many pairs. But she gets comfortable with one pair and that's that then," Cyrilyn, added.
Lowri's ultimate message to those who still feel self-conscious about wearing their glasses - and the main moral story of her book titled Princess Rose and the Golden Glasses, which she wrote when she decided to take matters into her own hands having not heard back from Disney - is: "Glasses help you see. So it's a positive, not negative. They give you the gift of sight, which is an incredible thing.
"Your glasses don't define who you are. They're just a tool to help you see. So they're actually great and should be celebrated, not put down."
Lowri's campaign is in support of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)’s #LoveYourEyes campaign which advocates for a world where everyone has access to eye care.
If you’ve been affected by bullying and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact Bullying UK (part of Family Lives) on 0808 800 2222. The helpline service is open 9am–9pm Monday to Friday and 10am–3pm Saturday and Sunday.
If you’re experiencing low self-esteem, contact Mind on 0300 123 3393 between 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays). Alternatively, you can visit their website here.