Flat shoes may be at the height of women's fashion, but the pressure on us to wear high heels is still all around: from workplace dress codes to the idea that straight women must wear them to attract the opposite sex. Simply put, heels remain an influential, but problematic, symbol of femininity.
However, a campaign is underway to challenge the dominance of the stiletto — by way of our emoji keyboard. Have you ever noticed that aside from the white trainer and brown shoe (which is, in fact, formally identified as a "man's shoe"), the only shoe emojis available to women are high-heeled? There's the sandal, the boot and of course, the red stiletto – but nothing akin to what many women spend their lives wearing: cool yet comfortable brogues, loafers, ballet flats and the like.
But this could be about to change thanks to Florie Hutchinson, a public-relations specialist who submitted a proposal for a ballet flat emoji, a shoe that's both comfortable and stereotypically feminine. The Unicode Consortium Emoji Subcomittee (ESC) is due to vote on her proposal on 23rd October and will announce the outcome in early November, Racked reported.
If successful, which looks likely, a blue ballet flat emoji will be coming to our keyboards in June 2018. Jennifer 8. Lee, the ESC's vice chair and a co-founder of Emojination organisation, which helps people propose new emoji, said there is a "pretty high" chance of the ballet flat "[making] it through."
Hutchinson was inspired to campaign for greater shoe diversity after noticing that none of the current emojis reflected her own footwear habits. "I wanted to choose something that isn’t sexualized or associated with seduction,” Hutchinson told Racked. “Once you realize there is a course correction to make, you see the omission everywhere," she said, adding that she began to notice the cliché of high heels all around.
Hutchinson landed on the ballet flat over any other style due to “its global ubiquity — geographically and socio-economically." The ballet shoe, which she claims was originally designed to be gender non-specific, "is perennial, democratic, inclusionary and non-ageist."
This is, "unlike the high-heeled shoe (which was introduced by royalty and used as an external sign of class and wealth, 'well-heeled') or the stiletto shoe (an opulent and thin heeled version most often associated with fetishism and seduction and made popular in the 50s during the era of Mad Men, and most recently by Sex and the City)," Hutchinson writes in her proposal.
Let's hope Unicode's ESC votes to further diversify the way femininity is portrayed via our keyboards. In the meantime, we're crafting our own proposal for an ugly trainer emoji.