Matrimonial Site Shaadi.com removes Skin Tone feature after backlash

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Popular matrimonial website, Shaadi.com, removed the option for users to filter out results by skin tone, after receiving backlash and it is a step in the battle against South Asia’s obsession with fair skin.

It was Hetal Lakhani’s online petition that made the website remove the option for users to state their skin tone preferences. ¬†Lakhani who lives in Dallas, US along with Meghan Nagpal, who was searching for a partner on the site. Nagpal discussed the complexion filter on a Facebook group, where Hetal is also a member.

“When Meghan shared this on our group I was really shocked because a company usually has a social responsibility,” Hetal was quoted as saying. I wanted to tackle this in a way that could make a difference so I started a petition. And it just took off like wildfire. Within 14 hours we had over 1,500 signatures. People were so glad we were raising the issue,” she added.

Shaadi.com said that the filter “was not serving any purpose” and was a “product debris we missed removing”. But when users joined the website, they were asked to mention the shade of their skin tone. People looking for a relationship also had the option to search potential partners based on this. Shaadi.com removed the filter overnight.

Nagpal mentioned that a representative from Shaadi.com told her “this is a filter required by most parents”.

“It’s just one small step in an ultimate goal of promoting equality within the south Asian community on a global level,” Nagpal was quoted as saying.

Talking about the beauty standards that exist in India, Lakhani said: “I have my bachelors, I have my masters. But if a skin tone can take that away from me – that would be the worst. People have their biases. But a company should not inculcate that culture.”

Lakhani also criticised Bollywood celebrities for having double standards as they endorse fairness creams while supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.