Snapchat sparks controversy with International Women’s Day filters

Snapchat sparks controversy with International Women's Day filters

After its successful IPO, photo sharing app Snapchat finds itself in the news again, but not for the same reasons. Since yesterday was International Women’s Day, Snapchat decided to release new filters in honor of the day. With the filters you could make yourself look like either scientist Marie Curie, artist Frida Kahlo, or civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

A controversy started when some things were noticed about two of the filters. With the Marie Curie filter, not only did it thin out your face but it also gave you full eye make up for some reason. Many considered this to be wildly historically inaccurate. With the Frida Kahlo filter, it seemed to lighten the skin tone while trying to make the user look like the Mexican artist. A number of Snapchat users took to social media to decry this as an instance of ‘whitewashing’.

Surprisingly, the filter that didn’t cause too much of a kerfuffle was the Rosa Parks filter. With the Rosa Parks filter, it didn’t change the skin tone of the user even though Ms. Parks was African-American. This could be that Snapchat learned from a previous controversy when they released a filter for reggae artist Bob Marley’s birthday which many users said was nothing more than applying ‘blackface’ to the user.

Even with Snapchat’s faux pas there is something good that can be taken from their attempt to highlight these historical women with their whimsical filters. Snapchats userbase tends to skew young and some of these young people may not have yet learned about these three iconic women from history, and these filters may have sparked an interest into researching them. And nothing is wrong with a little bit more knowledge.