An Asian marriage website promising the ‘ultimate partner search experience’ has dropped a skin tone filter after an online petition against the option.
This is certainly one step forward in the fight against colourism in the Asian communities.
Shaadi.com has dropped the option, citing it as a blindspot, at a time when colourism in South Asia has come under the spotlight following global anti-racism protests after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while being arrested by a white cop in the United States.
The response from the marriage and dating website came swiftly as the petition initiated by Hetal Lakhani from Dallas, US, caught fire online.
“The obsession with fair skin is still notorious within South Asian communities. The notion that fair skin makes a better bride/husband is still of significance. Whilst completely ignoring the personality, experience of life and the ability to make a good partner and son/daughter in law,” she said in the petition.
She noted that Shaadi.com had a colour filter that asked users to indicate the colour of their skin using descriptors like “Fair”, “Wheatish”, and “Dark” and allowed users the ability to search for potential partners on the basis of their skin colour.
“Now is the time to re-evaluate what we consider beautiful. Colorism has significant consequences in our community, especially for women. 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”,” wrote Hetal.
She added: “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.”
In an update, Hetal noted that the website’s removal its colour filter did not change the reality that people will continue to anchor desirability and suitability onto people’s skin colour.
“But it will stop giving users the option to discriminate on the basis of something so shallow and arbitrary,” she said.
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