The reaction was sparked by three women who never met, but whose outrage and combined action led to change.
It all started with Toronto-based Shaadi user Meghan Nagpal.
He had decided to return to the dating site as protesters took to the streets after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The site asked users to indicate their skin color using descriptors such as “blonde,” “wheat,” and “dark,” and allowed users to search for potential partners based on their skin color.
Given the renewed focus on racism and discrimination, he tweeted the website asking if it was time to remove his skin color filter.
Nagpal copied her tweet to a Facebook group for South Asian women, sparking a discussion about its relevance.
A week later, on June 10, he e-mailed Shaadi.com about his policy and a representative told him that the filter “is required by most parents.”
The word shaadi means marriage in Hindi and the website is the largest dating site serving the Indian and diaspora community worldwide, replacing the role of a traditional matchmaker.
Nagpal posted the company’s response on the Facebook group, sparking outrage from another group user, Hetal Lakhani, who lives in Dallas.
Lakhani was so excited that she decided to have Shaadi.com change it.
“The only way to do it is if you have signatures on paper and you can see here, a lot of people want you to make a change, so make a change,” he told CNN.
An excerpt from the petition says:
“The obsession with light skin is still prominent in South Asian communities. The notion that light skin makes a better girlfriend / husband is still important. While completely ignoring the personality, life experience and ability to be a good partner and son / stepdaughter. “
“Now is the time to reevaluate what we consider beautiful. Colorism has significant consequences in our community, especially for women. People with darker skin experience greater prejudice, violence, intimidation, social sanctions and all kinds of treatments to clarify skin is recommended to them under the guise of ‘making them desirable’ or ‘making them more beautiful’. ”
Both Nagpal and Lakhani tweeted about the request, as did other users in the group, and it accelerated online.
“In one hour I had 500 signatures,” Lakhani told CNN.
Hours later, influential blogger Roshni Patel noted the request and shared it with her 80,000 followers and also tweeted Shaadi.com.
It was his tweet that the company responded to.
The next day, June 11, Shaadi.com posted on Twitter that the filter was a “blind spot” and had been removed.
“Since we do not collect or capture this information on our platform, one cannot filter profiles with this,” the tweet said. “So this search filter has no matching implications. That said, the search filter was a blind spot on our side and we have removed it.”
It is not the first time that the website’s policies have caused controversy.