I remember the first Barbie I ever owned that actually looked like me. I was in fourth grade and my birthday happened to coincide with a football game I was cheering at so sweets and presents were brought to the field. My parents made sure I opened her last. Seeing caramel color skin in doll form was a big deal to a girl who had previously asked her parents why she could find dolls that looked like them (a blonde mommy and a brown daddy) but none that looked like her. In that moment I mattered, I belonged.
That story would probably seem silly to a fourth grader today in a time where inclusivity is a big deal. Disney and Nickelodeon make it a priority to cast their shows with diversity in mind. But I was reminded of that feeling recently when the new emojis debuted. It had been so long since I originally heard they were being worked on that I almost forgot they were coming. Then boom, there they were.
Not that it was really something I struggled with as I sent the blonde princess emoji as a representation of myself via text. And I actually prefer the white stock emoji family to the new yellow one(s). Honestly, the stock yellow emojis kind of creep me out. But I understand why they exist.
For me the update was just a fun option. It wasn't something I needed to validate my existence like I needed that Barbie. But in today's technology driven society I can't help but think that there was a kid somewhere that looked down at their phone and thought I matter, I belong.