F your “Flawless” Filter, Snapchat
Yesterday, I was on my phone, opened up Snapchat and began to scroll through the face filters. Usually, Snapchat has filters that make you look like a cat or (my favorite) a panda. I had heard about a new filter that is supposed to make you “prettier.” The filter shows you what it is correcting as it generates a “flawless” photo to be sent out into the Snapchat universe. I thought it would be funny to make a silly face and caption it with a clever sentence. Maybe “am I flawless yet?”. I didn’t even get that far. I watched the filter go through and do nothing to my face except make it five shades lighter.
I grew up Indian American in a predominately Caucasian town. On one hand the standard of beauty where I grew up was girls I would never look like, a mold I would never fit. Fine. On the other hand within the Indian community a premium is placed on being “fair skinned” which I am also not. You know…on account of being a brown person and everything. That is a whole other issue I could spend several days writing about but for the sake of being concise: Fine. Again. Queue the development of a *great* sense of humor. Seriously guys, I’m really funny.
I consider myself normal looking, like most people I have my off days and my “flawless” days. It took me a long time to get to a point where I can accept that while I don’t fit the mold of beauty where I grew up or maybe even within my own culture, I am who I am, I look like what I look like, and there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t need some app telling me that in order to fix my flaws all I have to do is lighten my skin five shades and everything will be fine. That’s garbage. What message is that sending? Snapchat isn’t even being subtle here. It was simply a situation where all I got out of this user experience was that until I figure out a way to make my skin lighter, I’m just riding the ugly train to sadness town
Sometimes it’s exhausting — especially on those off days — having to pretend I don’t care when yet another person makes some backhanded comment on what they have determined my looks to be in order to fulfill some false sense of benevolence and kindness. I try to take things in stride, sometimes people don’t realize they are being offensive or ignorant and oftentimes a gentle reminder that “hey man, that wasn’t cool” is enough to point someone in the right direction. This is one of those days where it is too exhausting to pretend I don’t care or ignore the situation. This is one of those days where I am a little too frustrated to put up with this nonsense. This is one of those days where I feel patronized and insulted just for existing. Snapchat, you could consider that on your next software release. Maybe one of your bug fixes shouldn’t be calling people of color bugs that can be magically fixed with some skin lightening filters.