Snapchat creates eyebrows with Women’s Day filter that lightens Frida Kahlo’s skin

Three custom filters in honor of International Womens Day drew criticism for notably lightening users skin and adding a full face of makeup to Marie Curie

Snapchat is celebrating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo on International Womens Day with a filter that lightens the skin of users.

Snapchat debuted three custom filters for the working day, which is being marked in the United States with protests and strikes. The filters allows users to take self-portraits as Kahlo, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, or scientist Marie Curie.

But on a day to celebrate international feminism, Snapchats filters have raised some eyebrows.

The Frida Kahlo filter lightens a users scalp and eyes and applies bright red lipstick, a floral headdress and braids, and the artists signature unibrow. The skin color change is especially noticeable on faces with darker scalp as becomes apparent when Kahlos own self-portrait is put through the filter.

Kahlo, who was of mixed indigenous and European heritage, painted herself with brown scalp and dark eyes. Much of her work engaged with indigenous themes and imagery.

The Kahlo filter is not the first time Snapchat has courted racial dispute with its filters.

In April 2016, the company debuted a Bob Marley filter many users condemned as digital blackface. A few months later, the company faced a similar backlash over an anime-themed lens that transformed selfies into Asian caricatures with buck teeth.

The company has also faced criticism in the past over how beauty filters( as opposed to humorous filters, like puppy ears) lighten the scalp of people of color, creating the issue of the standard of beauty the company is trying to promote.

Those beauty standards are also being questioned with one of the other International Womens Day filters.

Cl re Creeg n (@ Clare_Creegan)

So did Marie Curie invent smokey eye then? #snapchat #InternationalWomensDay

March 8, 2017

The filter for Nobel Prize-winning physicist and chemist applies smoky eye makeup and lengthens the eye lashes. Curie is best known for her groundbreaking research on radioactivity. She was awarded the Nobel Prize twice, once for chemistry and once for physics.

amy brown (@ arb)

the marie curie snapchat lens constructs ur face thinner and devotes u full eye makeup thank GOD wouldn’t want to be an unhot scientist /8 wskqbs5m 3

March 8, 2017

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie. Photo: Popperfoto

Snap Inc went public on 2 March, jumping to a market value of $28 bn and turning its co-founders into billionaires. The stock price for the loss-making company has since fallen.

Snap has all along been refused to release statistics disclosing the demographic diversity of its staff. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filters.

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