Runner Girl Emoji

Another Molly Huddle Victory

Molly Huddle: 2 time Olympian, American record holder, Saucony athlete, Emoji lobbyist?

Have you ever gone searching for an emoji to illustrate an important point and been surprised that it doesn't exist? Molly set out on a quest to change that and create an emoji for runner girls everywhere.

Here's the story:

The idea for the female runner emoji request started in a text conversation last fall with one of my BFF’s from high school, Liz McGill (cameo by emoji-fame-A-lister, the 💩) :

You can see that sports are a big part of our lives/ interests, and because we text often, we are always looking for relevant emoji! It got me thinking about how many times I’ve wanted to use a female athlete emoji:

  • When wishing luck to my training partners
  • Congratulating female friends on races 
  • Referring to myself running, as I do that for a living 

So a few hours later I tweeted this:

For me, nearly 500 likes and almost 200 retweets was a lot, so I thought that was a sign that the idea resonates with a lot of people.     

I googled how emoji are decided and that lead me to the Unicode Consortium page, where I found that anyone can submit a request. (They provide a format to follow):

I thought, I’m anyone, why not ask? I reached out for help from training partner, Irish Olympian and friend Róisín McGettigan-Dumas and her husband Myles because he does graphic design and I also thought a female athlete emoji fit somewhat well with her BelieveIAm brand (and we’re also each other's hype-women when needed).

Unicode accepted the submission. About a month later I got a vote of confidence via tweet from Mark Davis, the President of Unicode:

The proposal seemed to grab a surprising amount of attention. Runner’s World asked about it here, as well as Women’s Running and Shape Magazine. T-shirts were even made here! I found out a lot about emoji. People submitted requests for everything from whisky glasses to unicorns to blended family emoji. They request you attach a graphic, but I think they code their own character for the actual emoji.  Most emoji are designed to be gender and racially neutral, but depending on the operating system used, they can have varying designs (hence Apple’s man running in jeans). As an iPhone user and future marathon runner, I’m particularly excited to see and use the female runner emoji in this next iOS10 update as I have a lot of miles to communicate this fall! 

I know that on the grand scale of gender equality, or global issues in general, this is a small and light hearted topic. However, social media and texting have evolved to become important modes of communication today, and emoji have come along with that. This emoji request is sort of like when a little girl asks for a doll that looks more like her. We like to be able to actually see ourselves in the products that are meant to represent us, because there is an underlying message of exclusion if something we use every day doesn’t relate to a large category of people using it. I think other cool emoji ideas would be a female (or any) gymnast or soccer player as the USA women’s teams are superstars who I’m sure a lot of girls look up to. Also I find myself frequently looking for a sandwich emoji! I hope all of the women and girls who have been Finding Their Strong out on the roads, trails, and tracks will tweet, text and share their thoughts on running along with the new emoji!

The female runner emoji will be available for the first time on Apple devices with the release of iOS 10.

You can share in Molly's journey as she trains for her marathon debut in New York City by following her here: Twitter, Instagram, Official Website