After years and years of discrimination on the basis of colour, there was some good news in the last week. First, Hindustan Unilever rebranded its image, announcing that it will drop the word ‘Fair’ from its brand ‘Fair & Lovely.’
And second, matrimonial website Shaadi.com, faced criticism for having a ‘skin tone filter’ for matchmaking. Following that, the website removed the said filters.
But who were the people who made the matrimonial website finally remove the filters?
It all started when a Toronto based Shaadi.com user, Meghan Nagpal opened her profile on the website so she could find a prospective partner.
However, while trying to find a partner, one of the options she stumbled upon was ‘the skin tone option’ where she had to select how dark or light her skin is.
This appalled her. So, to talk about this particular feature, Meghan emailed the website to remove it. However, she got a shocking reply from the website representative saying that the filter is required by most parents.
@ShaadiDotCom have you thought that you should maybe remove the skin color option on your profiles? Colorism has proven to be dangerous #SouthAsians4BlackLives #endcolorism #BlackLivesMattter— Meghan Nagpal (@MeghanSNagpal) June 3, 2020
Meghan shared this all over her social media accounts. There, this issue caught the attention of Hetal Lakhani from Dallas, USA. She started an online petition against the option. This petition spread like wildfire and within 14 hours, it got over 1,500 signatures. She told CNN,
The only way you can do it is if you have signatures on a piece of paper and you can see here, so many people want you to make a change, so please make a change.
Both Meghan and Hetal shared tweets about this petition and eventually, it caught attention of influential blogger Roshni Patel who shared it with her 80,000 followers. She dissed the company for this disappointing feature and finally got a reply from the company.
https://t.co/PSq8gOhufE.— MissRoshni (@MissRoshni) June 11, 2020
Dear @ShaadiDotCom I am sad that this is what you are promoting! Totally wrong – totally disrespectful- totally disgusting! To add a filter to a dating site because of our skin complexion! What are we teaching our South Asian gen! Sick to my stomach! pic.twitter.com/iK3oCTHfw4
Um.. so then why does your site have an option to filter your photo? You do realize that’s wrong? You are basically faking the color of your skin on a dating site where you find love. So what is the “reasoning” behind the filter? Do care to explain. We need valid reasons… https://t.co/alhTN7UrRJ— MissRoshni (@MissRoshni) June 11, 2020
After this interaction, finally, Shaadi.com officially posted that it has removed the said option and referred to it as a ‘blindspot’.
Since we do not collect or capture this information on our platform, one cannot filter profiles using this. Hence, this search filter has no implications on matchmaking. That said, the search filter was blind spot from our side and we have removed it.— Shaadi.com (@ShaadiDotCom) June 11, 2020
While the removal of this filter was a combined effort of everyone signing the petition, it was successful because of these three women who have never met but whose combined outrage and action led to the change.