Hold Up: Does Snapchat Have a Problem With Brown Skin?

Hold Up: Does Snapchat Have a Problem With Brown Skin?

The "beauty" filter is garnering plenty of side-eye.

Published May 16, 2016

It’s not a secret that we all use filters when snapping pics of ourselves with our smart phones.

Who doesn’t desire perfect lighting that enhances our natural skin tone, while diminishing our blemishes and smoothing out our skin? But what happens when the filters feel more like Photoshop, making you feel a tad unrecognizable, like Kerry Washington’s Ad Week cover?

As pointed out by Buzzfeed, some believe this is what Snapchat’s “beauty” filter is actually doing. And while some women are praising it, calling it “everything,” there is a growing sentiment that it’s forcing a white standard of beauty on its users by lightening darker skin and even narrowing noses and jaw lines. 

While it’s unsure if Snapchat truly understands these critiques, we all know how damaging this can be to women of color. To label the filter “beauty” with these particular effects is a slap in the face, especially given how often we are bombarded with messages that our features are not only not enough, but in some instances, grotesque.

In addition, this filter helps perpetuate colorism in the Black community, the belief that lighter skin is better and more aesthetically pleasing. A notion that is dangerous to our self-esteem and self-image. And yet, here we are in 2016 still telling folks that beauty equates shaved-down noses and bleached skin.

Like, Snapchat, do better.

And no, Snapchat didn’t create these problems, but the backlash against their filter continues to pick at existing emotional scabs that many of us have worrying about how social media will perceive our beauty and the double standards that come with that.

Remember what happened a few months ago when MAC posted on their Instagram a close-up pic of model Aamito Lagum’s perfect pout? The haters made all kinds of awful comments referring to her as a “gorilla” and having “n%$ga lips.” Meanwhile Kylie Jenner can have the biggest (and fakest) lips in the game and it launches challenges, garners admiration and sells out lip kits.

Hmmm… Black is only beautiful when it’s on white girls, and we’re only beautiful when we look whiter.

And sadly, this isn’t Snapchat’s first time being accused of cultural insensitivity. In April, the app was under fire for creating a Bob Marley filter, for the unofficial marijuana holiday of April 20, which gave users darker skin, dreadlocks and a Rasta-colored hat, similar to the deceased reggae icon. Not only were they accused of encouraging Blackface, but also of reducing his rich legacy of activism to smoking pot.

In the end, these types of problematic incidents only underscore the need for tech companies like Snapchat to diversify their über white (and male) employee pool with people of color who can sit at the table and be like, “Nah.” Until then, these types of missteps are just par for the course.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.



Written by By Kellee Terrell

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