Snapchat Celebrated International Women's Day With Iconic Feminist Filters But It Hasn't Gone To Plan

The social media platform has drawn criticism after promoting Frida Kahlo and Marie Curie-inspired filters that champion unrealistic beauty standards for women.

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Amid the #InternationalWomensDay hashtags, the venus symbols, the red-colored uniforms of feminists around the world showing solidarity for the Women's March and the International Women's Strike and our favorite street-style icons sporting T-shirts emblazoned with messages such as 'pretty powerful' and 'power to the girl', Snapchat launched a range of custom filters to celebrate International Women's Day.

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So far, so great!

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While we do have reservations regarding its filters' often acting as a veil for narcissism, we applaud the social media platform for wanting to celebrate international feminism with filters to highlight the inspiring work of the likes of artist Frida Kahlo, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and scientist Marie Curie.

However, in their attempt to honour history's most empowering feminists, they may have actually failed, quite badly.

Users who attempted to use the 'Kahlo' filter reportedly found that it lightened their skin and eyes, while applying a virtual red lipstick, floral headdress, braids and the artists' signature unibrow.

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While some users celebrated the custom filter, it has raised eyebrows in quite a few corners , given its seeming promotion of unrealistic and caucasian-orientated standards of beauty.

Given the fact Kahlo was of Spanish, Mexican and Indian heritage and injected her self-portraits with various indigenous themes and imagery, it feels unsettling and at odds with her work, that her skin could be perceived to need whitening.

Of course, this isn't the first time the app has caused controversy for the way its beauty filters - including the floral head crown and butterflies background - appear to lighten skin tones and thin out facial features.

Last year, the company was criticised for promoting digital 'blackface' and using an anime-themed lens, according to the Guardian, that transformed the selfie into Asian caricatures with buck teeth.

To make matters worse, users who applied the app's recent Marie Curie filter found it added smokey eye make-up and lengthened eye lashes.

Now, we might be mistaken but we're pretty sure Curie is best known for being a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and chemist for her work on radioactivity, not her talents with a mascara wand and eyeshadow palette.

Does Curie's make-up better identify and celebrate her skills in the laboratory and impact in science and female education?

We think not.

On a day when women and men are trying to raise the profile of women, fight against gender equality and encourage more young women to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, it doesn't feel right that unrealistic beauty standards and a seemingly white beauty agenda might be promoted.

ELLE UK has reached out to Snapchat for comment.

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