Emoji can't convey everything.
For instance, you can't currently use emoji to indicate that you're a breastfeeding woman in a hijab who's also a zombie hungry for brains.
But that's about to change.
The Unicode Consortium, the shadowy organization that approves and encodes emoji, has announced 69 new characters coming to an Instagram caption near you.
Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia and a member of Unicode’s emoji subcommittee, said gender-neutral figures are among the most exciting additions. A child, adult and elderly person without clear indicators of being male or female will be joining the largely gendered fray of human emoji. He said it represents a new level of inclusivity.
“If you don’t feel strongly one way or the other” about your gender, Burge said, “it’s nice to have an option in the middle.”
There's a decidedly fantastical bent to this update as well: The new images include male and female wizards, elves, vampires, mermaids (specifically, Burge said, a male and female “mer-person”), fairies, genies and zombies.
In the "faces" category, you'll be able to express that you're vomiting, shushing, swearing, giggling into your hand, raising an eyebrow or have stars in your eyes. The flags for England, Scotland and Wales will be available, as are a UFO and an anatomically correct brain. Zebra, giraffes, a T. rex, a sauropod, a hedgehog and a cricket join the animals category, and in food, look forward to broccoli, steak, a sandwich, a pretzel, a coconut, a steaming hot pie, a dumpling, a fortune cookie, a can of tomatoes and a box of takeout.
A woman breastfeeding and a woman in a headscarf are also new additions. For men, there will be a bearded face. Both women and men will be able to express that they’re doing yoga, rock climbing and indulging in a post-workout steam. The sled, gloves, scarf and curling stone promise to come in handy when the Winter Olympics air next year.
Burge said the bearded man, the woman in the hijab and the giraffe were among the most frequently requested emojis.
Emojipedia, a comprehensive emoji encyclopedia, put together a mock-up of what the emoji might look like on Apples devices. (The Unicode Consortium approves and encodes new emoji, but it is up to the individual vendor — Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. — to determine what they actually look like. That’s why, for instance, the gun emoji is a squirt gun on your iPhone but a more traditional pistol on other platforms.)
See for yourself, and start planning your Halloween costumes accordingly:
The Unicode 10.0 update is expected to come out in June. After that, Burge said people should expect to see the emoji added to their phones between July and December — “no later than the end of the year.”
In the meantime, you’ll have to scrape by with the roughly 2,000 emoji that exist now.