Is <3 a Word Now?

I was going to post a different article today, but I've been too sick to finish the graphics. Instead, I've just been reading news feeds in between falling in and out of consciousness.

As I've mentioned before, the Oxford Dictionary adds stupid words just like the American Heritage Dictionary. Apparently, they did it again yesterday.

Once the sole preserve of tacky tourist T-shirts, the heart symbol – as in I ‘heart’ New York – has become the first graphical entry in the Oxford English Dictionary in its 127-year history.

Does that mean that "<3" is a legitimate word now? Can I put it in an essay? As it is a graphical entry, how do I pronounce it? This isn't like "the artist formerly known as Prince;" there's no previous form. "Heart" and "love" are already a words. I have a suggestion:

♥ (no pronunciation) - n. a tacky way to write "love"

They've also added "muffin top," as is the fat that falls over someone's belt. This is just slang, not a real term. I've always preferred "cliffhanger" myself. "Lard ass" and "fat ass" aren't in the dictionary. Why is "muffin top?"

I'm going back to sleep. At least everybody there speaks a language that isn't so ridiculous: C.