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problematic wording in “skin whitening” #37

neapel opened this Issue Oct 18, 2012 · 4 comments


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neapel commented Oct 18, 2012

There is some talk about the problems of “skin whitening” as offered by this plugin. The main problem seems to be the term “flesh”: there is no universal flesh-color. I suggest renaming the UI description from "flesh" to something less assuming, and testing the plugin with dark-skinned examples.

It would probably be more user-friendly to apply each filter to the actual image instead of displaying the images/*.jpg in the UI, so users will get a preview of how the filter will treat their specific image…

Correction: the issue of "flesh" pertaining to light skin is only one part of it. (It's akin to peach-colored garments/images that are labeled as "nude.")

The bigger and more disturbing issue is that "skin whitening" is a tool that is believed to "beautify" an image. Many people are interpreting this as meaning that to lighten one's skin is to make it more beautiful, and, conversely, to very subtly perpetuate the insidious and grossly inaccurate "value" that darker skin is somehow less appealing. The reason there's such an uproar is that this notion of preferring light skin over dark is a systematic racial problem in Hollywood, mass media, and society at large. While I'm sure it wasn't the developers' intention, it now seems like Gimp features a tool that perpetuates this unfortunate, misguided notion and invites people to lighten skin they find to be too dark (and therefore unattractive).

I have to question why there's even a tool to single out edits to skin color to begin with. Whether it's lightening or darkening skin (if one must be there, the other ought to be as well), these shouldn't appear as options to "beautify" images, by changing people's natural skin colors. And changing the verbage to remove "flesh" would also help, certainly, by no longer hinting that whiteness is the default/norm (precisely what the excellent article neapel linked to points out).

From reading both articles, it's bringing the software itself into disrepute - people are conflating your choice in naming the plugin with GIMP. Please change the name or remove.

This is a ridiculous complaint.

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