The popular online dating site Shaadi.com has been a go-to for South Asian men and women hoping to find their forever match.
But hope turned to anger last week when users spoke out about a filter on the site that lets people pick the preferred skin tone of potential matches.
“They have an option of fair, wheatish and dark,” said Meghan Nagpal, one of the site’s users. “A skin tone is pretty obvious on a photo, if someone really does have that bias, they can always look at a photo but a website shouldn’t really be promoting that bias.”
Meghan and her friend Hetal Lakhani began an online petition to fore the site to remove the skin tone filter.
“It’s okay to filter by the city you live in, it is okay to filter by the age, it is okay to filter by the height because you’re looking for a prospective mate, you want them to match. What is not okay is to mention ‘what is your skin color?’” said Lakhani.
Roshni Patel, who also supported the petition, explains that many parents use Shaadi for match-making their children and some put emphasis on skin tones.
“Back home in India, there’s a lot of people who have the mindset of saying ‘we want our girls married’ and if we’re going to put and if we’re going to put biodata out we’ll just have to fake their image, which is wrong and that mentality has been around for centuries. It’s not something new,” Patel said.
Patel made a post on Twitter calling out Shaadi for the filter, which they did remove.
In a statement to FOX 5 NY, the company said: “When a user highlighted this, we were thankful and had the remnants removed immediately as it was a non-functional aspect of the product. We do not discriminate based on skin color and our member base is as diverse and pluralistic as the world today is.”