Written by Romie Tiwana
The South Asian dating website, Shaadi.com has removed a skin tone filter following pressure and backlash from users.
An online petition made by Hetal Lakhani on change.org has demanded the removal of the colour filter from the matrimonial website. It has received more than 1,500 signatures in 14 hrs which has now led to the filter being removed overnight.
The website initially made users who joined the site to select how dark or light their skin under the ‘skin tone’ option and users could then search for potential partners by the skin tone they’d selected. The filter would include having to choose skin tones such as ‘dark’, ‘fair’ and ‘wheatish’.
A representative from the platform says, “As you know this is a matrimonial site and most parents do require this as an option so it’s visible on the site.” Shaadi.com then proceeded to respond to the backlash by also saying the filter ‘was not serving any purpose’ and was a ‘product debris we missed removing’ and was simply a “blindspot”
Colourism in South Asia has been highlighted following the recent global anti-racism movement after the death of George Floyd.
Hetal Lakhani says its ‘time to re-evaluate what we consider is beautiful’, colourism in the Asian community presents the notion that ‘people with darker skin experience greater prejudice, violence, bullying, social sanctions, and all kinds of skin-lightening treatments are recommended to them under the guise of “making them desirable” or “making them more beautiful”. Bollywood stars endorsing fairness creams to the south Asian community can be presented as the issues in colourism creating a social construct to in this community.
She also wrote on the Change.org platform that “this kind of constant discrimination affects our self-esteem and mental health, with consequences as extreme as social exclusion and physical harm. Colour is only skin deep. The idea that fairer skin is “good” and darker skin is “bad” is completely irrational. Not only is it untrue, but it is an entirely socially constructed perception based in neo-colonialism and casteism, which has no place in the 21st century.”
The petition has now reached 1,637 signatures and has led to the removal of the skin tone filter on Shaadi.com but Hetal Lakhni states that “removing the colour filter doesn’t change the reality that people will continue to anchor desirability and suitability onto people’s skin colour. But will stop giving users the option to discriminate on the basis of something so shallow and arbitrary.”