Lowri Moore, a local schoolgirl who got Disney to create a heroine with glasses in their hit Encanto, has set her sights on challenging the popular “nerd face” emoji, which she says perpetuates stigma against glasses wearing.
In 2019, aged just 9, Lowri Moore, from Chilwell, wrote a letter to Disney asking them to represent more glasses wearers in their films. Two years later, Mirabel Madrigal of Encanto burst onto our screens – proudly wearing her glasses. Encanto director Jared Bush said he had been inspired by Lowri, telling her “I am your biggest fan. I am so impressed by you.”
Now, on World Sight Day, Lowri has turned her focus from the big screen to the phone screen.
In a letter to the Unicode Consortium, the body responsible for all new emojis, Lowri, who earlier this year won the award for ‘Campaigner of the Year’ from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, says: “Unfortunately, the only glasses wearing emoji I can find is a nerd face. As I’m sure you know, people who wear glasses are not nerds. But unless we address this, there’s a chance the next generation will grow up believing this lie about themselves.”
Lowri’s #GlassesOn campaign calls for the option to add glasses to all emojis, to reflect the diversity of glasses wearers and reduce the stigma that many young people still feel about glasses.
For both children and adolescents, having vision problems is linked to lower self-esteem and quality of life*. Research from 2005 showed that UK children with glasses are 35-37% more likely to be bullied**.
Lowri’s full letter to the Unicode Consortium can be found below. Kicking off her campaign, Lowri paid a visit to a UK secondary school where the students co-signed her letter.
One passionate pupil said: “When I realised I needed glasses, I actually didn’t want to wear them at all. I thought I wasn’t going to be cool. I thought everyone looked cool without glasses, so it made me feel left out.”
Peter Holland, CEO of International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), stated: “Lowri’s advocacy for the world to open its eyes to the real power of glasses and the people wearing them, rather than reinforcing stereotypes, is vital. For children, as for the rest of the world, eye issues are on the rise. Children in the UK are becoming short-sighted 1.5 times more rapidly than they did 50 years ago***.
“Yet good eyesight is crucial in ensuring a child has the best chances in life. Children with vision impairment have poorer educational outcomes, and glasses can reduce the odds of failing a class by almost half****. Making sure children can wear glasses when they need them without the fear of being called a ‘nerd’ is an important step on the way towards better eyesight globally.”
Lowri’s campaign was part of a broader range of activities that took place on 13th October, in conjunction with World Sight Day 2022 and the Love Your Eyes campaign to create greater public awareness of the importance of caring for your own eyes and getting them tested. To help people find out if they are taking good care of their eyes, IAPB has developed this quiz with the top tips.
Photos by Chanelle Joseph.
*Congdon et al, 2019
**Horwood et al., 2005
***Breslin et al., 2013
****Ma, Zhou, Yi et al., 2014
Dear Mark Davis, President of Unicode Consortium,
My name is Lowri Moore, I am 13 years old and I live in Nottingham UK. Being a teenager, I am on my phone a lot and I love to use emojis. I’ve noticed that you have recently added lots of options to represent people better, thank you for doing this. I think it’s really important that people can find an emoji that looks like them.
I’ve worn glasses all my life and I can’t see a thing without them. So my glasses are really a part of me. Unfortunately, the only glasses wearing emoji I can find is a nerd face (unless you are a granny or a teacher) and I wondered if this is something you could please change.
I’d love to see the option to add glasses to face emojis, similar to changing skin colour or hair colour as you have already made available.
I would also like to see the original emoji wearing glasses too, but preferably not this one that looks like a nerd 🤓. I think this can be damaging as it helps to confirm the negative stereotype and stigma that we are trying hard to destroy.
As I’m sure you know, people who wear glasses are not nerds. But unless we address this, there’s a chance the next generation will grow up believing this lie about themselves. You have the power to help us change this and that is why I am reaching out to you to ask for your help.