Should Apple redesign its "insulting" nerd emoji?

Apple nerd face emoji
(Image credit: Apple / Future)

Emojis can provoke a lot of debate. We've seen plenty of campaigns over the years for new emojis to be added, and we've also seen controversy over certain emojis taking on meanings that weren't exactly what they were originally intended for. 

While the Unicode Consortium has aimed to make emojis more inclusive, but the exact designs are the work of individual social media and tech brands, such as Apple, Android and Facebook. A 10-year-old boy now aims to convince Apple to change one of its most questionable designs (no, we're not talking about Magic Mouse).

Apple nerd face emoji

Some brands have redesigned their 'nerd face' emojis, but Apple and X still use buck teeth (Image credit: Apple / Google / Facebook / Twitter)

The 'Nerd Face' emoji was approved as part of Unicode 8.0 and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015. It traditionally showed a face with thick-rimmed glasses and buck teeth, but Google, Facebook, WhatsApp and JoyPixels have all changed or removed the teeth from their versions of the emoji. Apple, Twitter, Microsoft, Samsung and some others have not.

Ten-year-old Teddy from Oxfordshire thinks that should change. He says Apple's design is "offensive and insulting" towards people who wear glasses. A specs-wearer himself, he has redesigned the emoji, making the frame of the glasses thinner and replacing the teeth with a smile. He has proposed that the emoji be renamed the genius emoji, and he's started a petition to call for Apple to take on his proposal.

An image of a young boy with Apple's nerd face emoji design next to his own redesign

Teddy's proposed emoji redesign (Image credit: BBC)

He told the BBC: "Apple are making it absolutely horrible for people wearing glasses. "They're making people think we're nerds."

He said: "It's making me feel sad and upset, and if I find it offensive there'll be thousands of people around the world that find it offensive too." He added that he likes wearing glasses because they make him see better, and they look stylish.

The BBC reports that Teddy had shared his feelings on the matter with one of his teachers, who helped him start the petition. Limited emoji options could actually become a thing of the past thanks to new AI apps like Newji and Google emoji kitchen, which allow users to create practically any emoji they want using text prompts (TikTok has some ideas for the emojis we need)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.