Snapchat Dysmorphia & Gender Discrimination

By Allison Walther

Snapchat’s new gender-changing filter has revealed a lot about our society as it functions today, predominantly among millennials. It reveals gender stereotypes and is also revealing the naivety man has chosen to so completely cloak himself in, despite saying that he has “evolved.”

A Business Insider article states that “the latest augmented-reality lenses from Snapchat allow users to change their appearances to include facial features that are traditionally male or female. The male-appearing lens translates to adding a five-o’clock shadow, thicker eyebrows, a widened jawline, and attempt to blur out long hair. For the female-appearing filter, Snapchat adds smoother skin, thicker eyelashes, long hair, and a leaner face and jawline,” but there are more augmentations than this.

The female’s skin takes on a dewy glow, and also has makeup. Why was the makeup not listed as a female specific feature in this article? Is it because makeup is implied to be on a woman’s face at all times? What does it say that this point does not even get a mention?

When I have had my male friends do the male filter on their faces, almost nothing changes, except for possibly their facial hair color. For the most part, most of my male friends have looked almost identical to their reality. However, when myself and other female friends of mine have used the female filter on ourselves, we become almost unrecognizable. This implies that women need to put in a lot more work to look truly “feminine” than a man does to be “masculine”– it is also implying that there is such a social construct in the first place. Women are naturally more sexualized than men, and there must be an aspect to this as well.

Rogue, in its inception, was thought to commonly only be used by “ladies of the night” and was highly sexualized, and it is still said by many that the blushing of the cheeks is to incite a post-coital glow, reminiscent of time spent in the bedroom. Makeup is used as a tool to further sexualize women, and is seen in itself as being repressive to some. Makeup is also a continuation of white privilege, as makeup for minority women is only now becoming commonplace and being created to match the correct skin tones for women of color. Snapchat filters have been used so indiscriminately, that a form of body dysmorphia has occurred called “Snapchat Dysmorphia” where it is becoming more and more common for women to come to plastic surgeons with the request to make their faces like a snapchat filter so it is more appealing and erases age lines, according to an article in the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health and other medical journals.  

Furthermore, this specific app has created a trend among men, who thought it would be funny to use the gender changing app to catfish other men on Tinder, and then became appalled by the blatant disrespect and inappropriate messages they were getting. Many are now commenting on Twitter and other social media platforms that they “hate men” and can’t believe this is what women are going through – proving yet again that men aren’t actually listening to us in the first place. In our present #MeToo movement and Time’s Up protests, it is clear that men still aren’t actually hearing us when we say we are being harassed and repeatedly disrespected and sexualized until they see it for themselves. It is amazing the confusion and outrage that men are reacting with when they realize the abuse they are receiving online when they are presenting as an “attractive female” when their female counterparts have been shouting that this is an issue from the rooftops for as long as we can remember.  

There is no surprise that 25 white men made the anti-abortion decision in Alabama recently. There is outrage, but not surprise. It is disheartening and frustrating to know that while we are shouting out loud about being discriminated against that we can see from such a simple and basic platform just how deeply our silence is being perpetuated. Unfortunately, these white men can’t manipulate a filter on a platform in order to actually experience how rape and incest and other issues regarding abortion and women is the woman’s choice, and not a man’s. It is even more unfortunate that apparently we need an app that men can use to experience themselves in reality in order to change their perception in the first place.  


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