Beauty = White: Photo Editing Software Edition

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, PhD; originally published at Sociological Images

Here is something quite simple, sent along by Judy B.  It’s a screenshot of Gimp, an open source image editing application.  An optional plug-in, created by a user, offers a series of filters for images, including ones that “beautify.”  One of the options is “skin whitening.”

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This is one more reminder that we live in a racist society that conflates whiteness with beauty.  Remember, too, though, that someone — very possibly a set of people — had to make a conscious decision to include skin whitening as an option and position it as a sub-category of beautification.  Then they had to, literally, type the words into the program and make it so.

This shit doesn’t just happen.  It’s not random.  Racism isn’t just an ephemeral cultural thing.  It involves actual decisions made by real people who, if not motivated by racism, are complicit with it.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter andFacebook.

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  • Lauren Kim

    hejian.he@gmail.com is the creator of this specific plug-in, which you can find in the notes

  • Lauren Kim

    hejian.he@gmail.com is the creator of this specific plug-in, which you can find in the notes

  • hashem

    Thanks for bringing attention to this.

    While GIM (the GNU Image Manipulator) has its share of naming issues,
    the strings in question are offered by a external plugin, which has a bug opened
    regarding the racist naming https://github.com/hejiann/beautify/issues/37

    Unfortunately, the plugin hasn’t been updated in the past 11 months.

    Where did you download GIM from? I’m wondering how the plugin got installed.