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Is Snapchat Making You Look Whiter?

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Is Snapchat making you look whiter? Some users have noted that the “beautify” filters lighten their skin and slim their nose.

An example of a beautify Snapchat filter:

Many people have noticed how this filter makes their eyes bigger, nose slimmer, and skin lighter. Even celebrities are noticing.

In a Snapchat video by Rihanna, she exclaims “I look white” while using a beautify Snapchat filter.

Many snapchat users shared their dissatisfaction with these filters via Twitter.

The problem isn’t that there is something wrong with having Eurocentric features, like light skin and a thin nose; the problem is that these “beautify” filters are trying to portray a false truth that whiteness is the highest form beauty.

As a child I watched shows like Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and Lizzie McGuire. At least I had my girl RayRay in That’s So Raven and the show Proud Family. But a few black leads compared to a multitude of white leads wasn’t enough to convince my young self to love my black features.

Authors in the academic journal Communication Research noted that “black kids absorb messages from the media, and it could impact their self esteem if they do not see themselves as successful, as main characters, or as heroes.”

Because of the lack of representation in what I watched as a kid, it took me a while to come to terms with the way I look and to love the skin I’m in. Consequently, it can be a bit disheartening to see the insecurities I once faced as a kid being projected onto my face in hopes to make me look “prettier.”

The beautify filters slim my nose, lighten my skin, make my eyes bigger, and even make my face thinner. As the wise Beyoncé once said, “I like my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.”

And this Eurocentric phenomenon with Snapchat filters doesn’t stop with that one filter. The flower crown and golden butterfly filters lighten my skin and slim my nose. The pink-flowers-in-your-hair filter has the same effect. All those filters also make my eyes lighter.

My face before and after using the “beautify” Snapchat filter. (Uzo Ngwu)

There’s nothing wrong if people frequently use, and love, those Snapchat filters. But it’s important to call out the effect those filters may have on our ideals of beauty. The point of the filters is to make you look like a prettier version of yourself. How twisted our beauty standards have become if the filters meant to exemplify your beauty erase essential parts of a person’s physical identity.

Wide noses and dark skin are features that do not need to be changed in order to be beautiful.

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Is Snapchat Making You Look Whiter?