Last week, Refinery29 released an emoji keyboard,
AltMoji. It's filled with dozens and dozens of unique images you won't find in your phone's built-in emoji set. But seeing as some of the emoji might seem a little out-there, we chatted with three of the designers behind the emoji to get the inside story. Designers Mallory Heyer, Isabel Castillo, and Anna Sudit shared the inspiration for some of their favorite AltMoji icons — and how they've been using them in conversation. If you've browsed through Refinery29's AltMoji and wondered, Er, how exactly am I supposed to use a speculum in daily conversation?, your question will soon be answered. And if you haven't checked out AltMoji yet, you can give it a download, here.
The Speculum "A speculum is my personal icon for fear and pain. It was definitely a weird one to draw, but I love having it in the AltMoji pack. It is such a horrifying object, but can express such an array of feelings, including making things a little more light-hearted." — Mallory Heyer
The Bloody Tampon "I absolutely love that there's a bloody tampon. It's something that so many women deal with every month, yet I often see people hide their (unused) tampons as if they're drugs. By having the bloody tampon, I hope it helps normalize what is already a very normal part of life." — Mallory Heyer
The $$$ Face "The challenge here was creating the already existing $$$ face with an R29 twist. Everyone uses this emoji, so how do we make it better, more fun, and cool — without looking weird? After a couple of tests, the glasses with dollar signs on them was the most natural solution, and it worked! Plus, who doesn't love a big smile?! In this conversation, the way my sister used it described the fact that she has the money and, being my sister, she was also laughing at me because I needed the money from her." — Isabel Castillo
The Lesbian Couple & The Rainbow Lips "Individuality, being inclusive, and showcasing self-expression with each of these emoji were at the core of the design process from the very beginning. We wanted to represent female empowerment in any and every way possible. Designing a lesbian couple was one of those cases in which I really spent time thinking about what they look like, what they are wearing, and how they interacted with each other, because I didn't want to draw a stereotype. On the contrary, the rainbow lips were added very last-minute into the mix and I'm so happy we moved away from the typical rainbow flag. Rainbow kisses, instead!" — Isabel Castillo
The Nursing Emoji "This one was really fun to work on. I illustrate most of the sex content for the site, so I feel like people have definitely walked past my desk and seen me zoom in on screenshots of porn or something, so this was just 'another day in the office' with time spent Google Images searching nipples and lactation..." — Anna Sudit
The Female-Empowerment Symbol "This emoji is everything. For me, it was exciting that we chose to feature this as part of our AltMoji, and that I got to illustrate it because it hits close to home. Growing up, I listened to a lot of Bikini Kill and and other riot grrrl bands and surely Kathleen Hanna was an idol. When I got to college, I decided to base one of my projects on feminism and used the fist symbol as a focus point in my design and it even won an award. This symbol is power and I hope every woman out there knows how awesome it is to have this one in her keyboard." — Anna Sudit