Snapchat got it very wrong this International Women’s Day

Snapchat’s efforts to commemorate International Women’s day yesterday were marred by an ill-judged filter, much to the chagrin of its female user base. The photo-sharing app paid homage to three iconic women, including Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, US civil rights activist Rosa Parks, and Polish-come-French physicist Marie Curie. All titans of history, all bastions of female empowerment and emancipation, all deserving of our unbridled reverence. Where, you may ask, did Snapchat go wrong in paying homage to these hallowed female icons?

Snapchat got it very wrong this International Women’s Day

Users – as bemused as they were incensed – took to Twitter to ask why Snapchat thought it necessary to include a cosmetic enhancement to the Marie Curie filter. Photographic tributes to Curie, the Nobel Prize-winning godmother of radioactivity, were adorned with cat-like eyeliner, fluttery lashes and a slimmed-down face. “Thank GOD,” decried one sardonic user, “wouldn’t want to be an unhot scientist”.

One scientist keen to pay homage to Curie looked visibly upset – although it may well have been the insidious workings of the doe-eyed filter – as she posted the message: “As a lady scientist I’m confused about why this filter needs to include makeup… you can’t even wear makeup in a clean room and do you think Marie Curie was focused on eye liner?!?!”.

It goes without saying, of course, that there’s nothing inherently wrong with eyeliner, or fluttery lashes, or makeup in general. As an incredulous Emma Watson was recently forced to reiterate, “Feminism is about having a choice […] It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.” It seems utterly bizarre, therefore, that Snapchat decided to necessarily frame its Marie Curie tribute with a cosmetic ‘enhancement’. If women want to wear makeup, more power to them. It shouldn’t, however, be projected onto them by the likes of Snapchat, least of all on a day celebrating women’s freedom, power and agency. The company, with its 160 million strong daily user base, should know better that to perpetuate such a backwards message.

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