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Why the Snapchat ‘gender swap’ filter isn't just a harmless bit of fun

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Hollie Richardson
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Woman takes Snapchat selfie

People might want to rethink before sharing their Snapchat ‘gender swap’ filter photos.

Does anyone even use Snapchat anymore? Well, apparently so, according to the recent influx of selfies shared on social media, showing off the photo app’s new ‘gender swap’ filter.

People are going wild for the filter, which changes your facial features to look either hyper-masculine or feminine. Males are given long hair, kohl-rimmed big eyes and a slimmed down jaw; while females are given short hair, a dash of stubble and a squarer jaw.

Users have spent the last week experimenting with the app. The most popular game to play, it seems, involves using the filtered photos on dating apps and finding out what the opposite sex experiences.

After uploading his ‘female self’ to Tinder, one guy wrote: “I made a Tinder using the new Snapchat filter to see what would happen, and these are the fucking messages I got. I feel for you women everywhere if this is what your inboxes actually look like.”

Sure, it’s just meant to be a bit of fun - but can we really say that there’s no harm being done here?

The app is problematic for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s been developed on the mind-boggling assumption that all females have typically feminine features and all males have typically masculine features.

News flash: not all women have – or even want – a long mane of hair, big bug eyes and flawlessly highlighted skin. We’re pretty sure that not all guys are able to grow a beard, either.

Not only does it refuse to acknowledge those who don’t fit these stereotypes (which is actually a lot of people) but it also fails to share broader, necessary ideas of what it is to be both male and female.

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Then, there’s the transgender community.

Did developers even stop to think about how a ‘gender change’ app could potentially affect the mental health of a transperson or someone considering transitioning?

The filter has turned something that is considered by many as a deeply emotional, personal, contentious and very real issue, into a trivial social experiment for laughs and likes.

Lastly, are we really comfortable with the fact that men are posing as women on social media?

If men really want to find out what online dating is like for women, they could try something a little less creepy – like having a conversation, or monitoring and checking their own behaviour on Tinder. 

We’re all for a fun new filter, but this one needs to be approached with caution. 

Images: Angela Franklin via Unsplash

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Hollie Richardson

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