Lowri Moore, the British 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 Nottinghamshire, England, 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 is turning 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 is calling 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 appears 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.”
Another stated: “Glasses are an everyday thing and it’s just not fair to not see it on an emoji. I want to express myself with a glasses emoji because that’s who I am. I think Lowri is doing this for us – for everyone that wears glasses”
Peter Holland, CEO of 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 is part of a broader range of activities for 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.
*Congdon et al, 2019
**Horwood et al., 2005
***Breslin et al., 2013
****Ma, Zhou, Yi et al., 2014