This Snapchat Filter for International Women's Day Gets a Huge Detail Wrong

March 8th 2017

Michelle Betters

Snapchat released three filters in celebration of International Women’s Day on Wednesday, but one seemed to really upset app users.

Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934)

The filters featured Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, and Marie Curie, a French physicist and winner of two Nobel prizes for her work in radioactivity. Curie’s filter, however, thins the user's face and adds eye makeup, which angered users of the app - including women scientists. ATTN: reached out to Snapchat for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Many women had a problem with the addition of the smoky eye shadow, mascara and possibly false lashes to Curie’s filter, arguing that not only was it unnecessary, but that it contradicted the significance of International Women’s Day.

“It’s as if there needs to be a reminder that this highly accomplished scientist was ― gasp ― a woman,” Jenna Amatulli explained in The Huffington Post.

One scientist pointed out on Twitter that makeup isn't even allowed in a scientist's work space. “As a lady scientist I’m confused about why this filter needs to include makeup,” Eileen Dawson, who has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, wrote in a Snapchat post Wednesday that she shared on Twitter. “You can’t even wear makeup in a clean room.”

Before Curie died from exposure to radiation, she made a number of important discoveries, some of which lead to the development of radiation therapy for cancer. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and the only woman to win it twice.

Cleanrooms, which are typically used in scientific research, are spaces in which the amount of particles like dust and other microbes have been minimized. By using heavy duty air filters and maintaining a certain temperature or humidity, cleanrooms reduce the chance of contaminating a scientist's project or research. Scientists and researchers usually have to wear a cleanroom suit or coveralls to work in a cleanroom

“That’s one of the first things you learn before even being allowed to enter a cleanroom,” Dawson told ATTN:. “You are not allowed to wear makeup, perfume, or bring anything that may introduce particulate into the environment.”

Dawson went on to explain that this is an example of a larger problem with how women scientists are often portrayed in the media.

“More often than not, if they have a woman scientist, she is in a lab coat with a dress or skirt shorter than the coat and high heels. It's ridiculous. It implies being intelligent or good at your job isn't enough,” Dawson explained.


This isn’t the first time Snapchat has come under fire for its filters. In 2016, the app launched “Bob Marley” and “anime” options that were criticized for putting users in blackface and yellowface, respectively.

Despite backlash against the Curie filter, some users appreciate the effort. “I honestly liked the concept,” Dawson said before adding, “obviously, not the execution.

[h/t Buzzfeed]