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Are People Reading Too Much Into These ‘Whitewashed’ Snapchat Filters?

Snapchat is under fire for filters that whitewash users.

Image: @erisolsies/Twitter

In today’s edition of news we can hardly believe is news: politically incorrect Snapchat filters. You would think that, following an April 20 debacle involving a face-altering algorithm designed to make users look more like Bob Marley (skin tone included, sigh) the social media platform would’ve learned its lesson. However, the app has once again come under fire for racially (and otherwise) insensitive feature-warping.

When Snapchat users select the app’s “beautifying” and “Coachella” filters, a disturbing sight meets their gaze. Pounds disappear from faces. Eyes shift into doe-like shapes. Cheekbones become more chiseled, noses more narrow. Bumps and blemishes are Photoshopped away — as is skin pigmentation. It’s implied that you are now a more stereotypically socially desirable version of your former self, despite the fact that your natural beauty has been whitewashed away.

When you consider the fact that a 2016 poll of 6,500 U.S. teens — Snapchat’s target demographic — revealed that 28 percent feel the app is the most relevant social network, the filters’ toxic subtext seems even more distasteful. Impressionable young adults don’t need any further reinforcement of society’s narrow beauty standards.

In response to the Bob Marley blackface controversy, Snap spokespeople said the filter was meant to provide users with “a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music.” Defenders of the whitewashing filters claim that the effects brighten all aspects of a photo (like a flash), not only skin tone. Quite a stretch. Others offer a solid (not) solution:

The app has yet to respond to its disgruntled community members. Here’s hoping Snapchat takes meaningful strides towards recognizing its missteps and promoting body positivity and doesn’t counter with another band-aid statement that makes us want to vomit more than rainbows.

[ via Mashable ]