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September 16, 2010 11:39 AM   Subscribe

ELLE drastically lightens Gabourey Sidibe's skin color (and crops out 75% of her body) for the cover of its October issue. This sort of thing happens fairly often. At least they didn't just put her head on Ann Margret's body.
posted by hermitosis (105 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
To be fair, they probably thought they were doing her a favor. I mean, an overweight black woman on the cover of Elle? That's some Rosa Parks shit right there.
posted by felix betachat at 11:43 AM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of Barack Obama's story in Dreams From My Father about, as a child, finding an old Life magazine in the embassy library in Indonesia. It depicted a man who had bleached his skin to become "white." He said “There were thousands of people like him, black men and women back in America who’d undergone the same treatment in response to advertisements that promised happiness as a white person. I felt my face and neck get hot. My stomach knotted; the type began to blur on the page.”
posted by bearwife at 11:46 AM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Another Elle cover where this wasn't done. I'm not sure what it means by comparisson except to say that maybe they don't lighten skin tone if you are somewhat known for the level of darkness (as is true for with Alek Wek, like it or not)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2010


Cropping out 75% of the body reminded me of this:

I favored blue sweater-vests, because whenever I wore brown Gene [Siskel] said, "Buzz, the usual offer of 10 silver dollars to any cameraman who doesn't make Mr. Ebert look like a mudslide."

"Is the offer limited to close-ups?" Buzz said.

"Twenty coins for any cameraman who can not take a close-up of Mr. Ebert."

posted by Joe Beese at 11:47 AM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


There was controversy over her hair, too.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems like a non-story to me. A GIS for Gabourey Sidibe reveals a wide array of skin tones in different photos, depending on the setting and especially on the lighting. In several candid and red-carpet shots, she looks as light as she does in this cover photo. We've all seen how magazines Photoshop their models up the wazoo, sometimes with hilarious results, but this doesn't seem egregious to me.
posted by Gator at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


that cover is bullshit. fuck you, elle
posted by angrycat at 12:02 PM on September 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


I always wonder about this. Every person I have ever known who worked in magazines spent most of their time "color-correcting", so to some extent, it's necessary (to correct poor lighting, to make the aesthetics of the layout pleasing, to flatter the subject). Take a look at any picture of yourself: how true is the color of your own skin? Your shirt? The wall behind you?

But on the other hand, correction which is untrue or tries to present a person as something other than herself makes no sense. It is, of course, dehumanizing. Which raises the further question of is it worse to lighten the skin of a famous woman on your cover or to remove all semblance of normal body shape from the anonymous model in your ads?

I don't know. It's all sad. You can't trust media images at all. Eventually, you've seen so many nonhuman humans presented as "real" or "desirable" that you cease to recognize how we really look. You can't even trust what you see in the mirror.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:03 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


> . Eventually, you've seen so many nonhuman humans presented as "real" or "desirable" that you cease to recognize how we really look. You can't even trust what you see in the mirror.

The quick and easy solution is to not look at those insipid magazines.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:07 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


They can't have thought they would get away with this, without a lot of people noticing.

Which means that either they believe it will somehow be double-reverse good publicity (maybe people will buy the mag in order to show it to other people in outrage?), or they think that they would have lost more sales by featuring her with her actual skin color than by doing this crap.

I'm guessing the latter. I hope they're wrong.
posted by gurple at 12:08 PM on September 16, 2010


I don't know that a dark-skinned person appearing lighter in print is automatically insidious. The designers adjust the levels/curves in every photograph; it's going to be more obvious that a dark-skinned person was fussed with than someone lighter-toned. Dark tones in print make for less detail and contrast to catch a shopper's eye.

The Beyonce example stands out to me. I can't imagine that L'Oreal's intention was to make Beyonce look "less black"-- her complexion is gorgeous and everyone knows that-- especially art directors. I'll bet that even the most disgusting racists in the world, upon seeing a photo of Beyonce, think about how engrossingly beautiful she is. My guess is that the art director said "desaturate the reds and yellows in her face so the makeup is more prominent. We're selling makeup after all." In the "natural" photo, you don't notice that she's made-up. Which is great except that it doesn't encourage the readers of Seventeen or whatever to paint themselves like Kabuki actors.

However, the famous TIME cover with OJ darkened up? That's some evil, evil shit.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:10 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know... she's a fairly successful actress right now, no? Which, I'm guessing, means she must have a publicist/agent who would have had to approve this photo for publication. So obviously someone close to her (if not Sidibe herself) thinks it's an OK likeness.
posted by Bardolph at 12:14 PM on September 16, 2010


Check out the catty comments on the first link. Women, proceed to tear each other apart!
posted by Sukiari at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2010


A GIS for Gabourey Sidibe reveals a wide array of skin tones in different photos
Belive it or not, Sidibe does not actually possess a wide array of skin tones.

There are only a handful of pictures where she looks anywhere close to as light as she does in the Elle cover, the vast majority show her as being pretty dark. But let's take a closer look at some of them.

this picture shows her on a red carpet. It's pretty high up in the GIS results, and it's by far the lightest one. But if you look at the people in the background, they're pretty washed out.

In fact, if you look at another photo (and another) from the same event, you can see what she actually looked like.

There's even another picture with her in the exact same position with the same people behind her. All these photos were taken in the same place with the same lighting. Any differences would be from camera settings and post production.

(and none really show her as light as she looked on the Elle cover)
posted by delmoi at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Skin bleaching, you can't hide that b.s. but the "awkward crop", she's a big girl, how the hell is she supposed to be cropped? Close up or far away, you can tell she's a woman of size.
posted by stormpooper at 12:18 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


That she was included at all is a step up from Vanity Fair's all skinny white girls cover. For a fashion magazine, though, they could have at least done a little more to show off what she was wearing, especially compared to the way the other girls are pictured.

Ebony does a much better job.

Which means that either they believe it will somehow be double-reverse good publicity (maybe people will buy the mag in order to show it to other people in outrage?), or they think that they would have lost more sales by featuring her with her actual skin color than by doing this crap.

I have a feeling it's more about their photogs and photoshoppers being trained to make everyone look slim and pale, and not grasping that slimmer and paler doesn't necessarily improve the way everyone looks. SOMEONE should have stepped in and said something, but I'm gonna go with dumb incompetence and a blind spot for sensitivity to these issues until I see evidence of genuine malice.
posted by almostmanda at 12:19 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Framing her as if she's too fat to fit on the cover of a magazine is pretty awful too.
posted by Mavri at 12:21 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


People are looking for something that isn't there, the hysterical reactions to this kind of thing are ridiculous. As someone who works on magazine cover shoots and handles the files for them professionally, my opinion is the skin tone is a product of the very broad lighting and maybe a conservative black point for the printer, since it's better to be slightly light than lose tons of skin detail to a muddy print. Also the crop was clearly dictated by the type (why magazines need to cram as many cover lines as possible onto the expensive photograph they commissioned is another topic I guess).

Saying that her skin tone not being consistent in every photograph ever taken of her under massively different conditions by different photographers is evidence of racism is ridiculous.
posted by bradbane at 12:26 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine that L'Oreal's intention was to make Beyonce look "less black"

Right, the problem is that they don't really consider her to be "black" in the first place. She is first and foremost Beyonce, secondarily she is a rich, powerful, beautiful woman. The subject of racial identity isn't in their minds at all, so they twiddle away blithely just trying to make a pretty picture. I believe that institutionalizing cultural insensitivity does contribute to a passive form of racism. Art directors assuming themselves to be above all of that because they are looking at things purely on an aesthetic level are dangerously self-deceiving.
posted by hermitosis at 12:30 PM on September 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


Saying that her skin tone not being consistent in every photograph ever taken of her under massively different conditions by different photographers is evidence of racism is ridiculous.

I think you're looking at the controversy out of the greater social context. If you review the "happens fairly often" links, it seems that there is a pattern of "brightening" the skin tones of darker-skinned actresses in ads and on magazine covers.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:32 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also the crop was clearly dictated by the type

Did you look at the alternate versions of the cover in the second link, featuring the other actresses?
posted by hermitosis at 12:33 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those ignorant racists.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 12:36 PM on September 16, 2010


A fashion magazine that photoshops its cover girl?
I am shocked, SHOCKED I tell ya!
posted by sour cream at 12:41 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fashion industry clearly gets flummoxed by any woman whose body and skin color are outside American society’s narrow definitions of beauty. In 2007, Vogue also ran an unflattering photo of Jennifer Hudson when they gave her a cover.

What are they talking about here? I think Jennifer Hudson looks sexy and like she's having a lot of fun in that photo.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:42 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]




I think you're looking at the controversy out of the greater social context. If you review the "happens fairly often" links, it seems that there is a pattern of "brightening" the skin tones of darker-skinned actresses in ads and on magazine covers.

I totally agree. My guess (as someone who couldn't be less connected to the magazine and fashion industries) is that one piece of the problem is that these decisions are being made by people who are clueless about the pattern and social context, and whose experience has come almost exclusively from working with images of white skin. That's no excuse, particularly when there are better examples close at hand, though perhaps ignorance is better than bias.
posted by Forktine at 12:56 PM on September 16, 2010


OH MY GOD, EVERYBODY'S IN ON IT.

I assume you're going for sarcasm, but Hollywood and the fashion industry often are pretty damn racist.
posted by kmz at 12:58 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's a practical consideration on the skintones on the cover. Darker skintones can go all over the place with 4 color printing. To me, they lightened it up and more importantly added contrast so it would print well over a long press run. They still might be racist assholes and all, but Occam's razor and all that says probably not.
posted by Mcable at 1:02 PM on September 16, 2010


In a related story, no one in Transformers is actually orange. previously
posted by blue_beetle at 1:09 PM on September 16, 2010


I'll toss my $.02.

We've all heard the phrase "The camera never lies." It seems to me that it should be corrected to "The camera always lies."
posted by redyaky at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I understand the point of racial sensitivity, but it seems like any contrast/brightness modifications made on a dark-skinned cover subject is automatically assumed to be racism. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to art directors that aren't otherwise shown to be racist shitheads.

Take the Time Magazine darkening of OJ. Most people wouldn't have even noticed it if Newsweek hadn't run the same photo, but lighter, and I don't think it was an instance of "look at this scary black man p.s. HE IS VERY BLACK", but more "hey America remember the football player who was goofy in Naked Gun? welp he got arrested for something pretty fucking dark."

I don't know, though, because to be honest, it's hard for me to understand racism as a non-racist white person in the midwest United States.
posted by maus at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2010


Right, the problem is that they don't really consider her to be "black" in the first place. She is first and foremost Beyonce, secondarily she is a rich, powerful, beautiful woman.

Some might argue that not categorizing her first and foremost based on her race is actually a positive.
posted by dhammond at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, the camera never lies, but no one is really lying when they're playing telephone, are they?
posted by maus at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2010


Marketing sometimes reveals what is ugly about us human beings.
posted by Xoebe at 1:19 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Darker skintones can go all over the place with 4 color printing. To me, they lightened it up and more importantly added contrast so it would print well over a long press run.

They're the ones pushing their magazine in everyone's face, it's really their job to find a less offensive way to make this work. Even a disclaimer in the editor's note to prove that they're even AWARE that this bothers people would be something. But the even then the damage is sort of already done.

For example. In a google search for "Magazine skin lightening Halle Berry" you get a few articles showing instances where Halle's skin was made to appear lighter in magazines. However, these are all but drowned out by links to beauty products that promise to lighten your skin. Regardless of WHY they're doing it, editors who put out lighter versions of stars are promoting the mentality that lighter is better, and there is a huge branch of the cosmetics industry ready to feed off of the insecurity this creates.

They still might be racist assholes and all, but Occam's razor and all that says probably not.

So there are only two options here? A lot of the comments above hint otherwise.
posted by hermitosis at 1:21 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I assume you're going for sarcasm, but Hollywood and the fashion industry often are pretty damn racist.

Obviously. And I'm not saying Hollywood and the fashion industry are not. What I am saying by linking to a GIS of her name that results in a broad palate of different skin tones on her due to camera whitebalance, exposure, and lighting. The same is true with everybody that does not have self-illuminated RGB 255,255,255 skin.

Wether this cover's look is intentional or not is up for debate, but certainly that this exists at all does not seal its fate.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:22 PM on September 16, 2010


As someone who works on magazine cover shoots and handles the files for them professionally, my opinion is the skin tone is a product of the very broad lighting and maybe a conservative black point for the printer
Have you seen any other pictures of this girl? The cover shot is not what she looks like at all.
OH MY GOD, EVERYBODY'S IN ON IT.
Yeah, believe it or not a few other pictures of her have had their levels adjusted as well. Most have not, though.
posted by delmoi at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


But I don't buy "those insipid magazines" and I never have. However, I stand in the line at the grocery where the covers are; I wait for buses next to rotating ads for clothes, beer, shoes, cars; I get the advertisers catalogs in my mailbox because I buy clothes sometimes with my credit card. Everywhere I walk outside my home are giant posters of composite women who were actual breathing human beings when the original photo was taken who could be standing right next to the picture and be unrecognizable. It's exhausting, trying to avoid the unreality offered as "woman" in the modern American city. It's very easy to subsume that lie; it's important--I think--to call it out, constantly.

But back to the question of women of color and fashion: On September 9, the opening day of New York Fashion Week, a group of young Black women staged a silent demonstration. The 20-something ladies wanted to acknowledge the first time in their lifetimes that Essence magazine—a formidable Black women’s print beloved by scores Black girls for 40 years—does not have a Black fashion director.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2010 [12 favorites]


What I am saying by linking to a GIS of her name that results in a broad palate of different skin tones
Yeah, but you apparently didn't actually even look at the results. Almost all of the pictures show her being much, much darker then the Elle cover shot. And as I explained in this comment the few shots that show her looking more light skinned have obviously been adjusted as well, since there are other pictures taken from the same event, with the same lighting that haven't been adjusted.

The two pictures that most illustrate this are this one where you can see the people in the background are really washed out. this picture is a better illustration of what she actually looked like that day.

There's obviously some variation, but in none of the natural photos does she look like she does on the Elle cover.

Is it too much to actually look at something for more then 5 seconds to see if it actually backs up what you say before linking too it?
posted by delmoi at 1:34 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, believe it or not a few other pictures of her have had their levels adjusted as well. Most have not, though.

So when do we start protesting on behalf of Kate Moss?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:34 PM on September 16, 2010


Threeway Handshake: making a pale girl look tan doesn't bother people, while this kind of thing does. I don't know why that's so hard for you to deal with.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on September 16, 2010


People are beautiful in their humanity, not in how well they match up to some passing fancy of perfection. That woman is gorgeous. Fuck Elle for hiding her in half a dozen ways.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


er that was Kate Moss heroin chic and Kate Moss beach babe

not the same thing as eww too black
posted by angrycat at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some might argue that not categorizing her first and foremost based on her race is actually a positive.

Please. When it comes to beauty and fashion, awareness of things like skin tone are incredibly important. It isn't one-size-fits all. Hairstylists, makeup artists, and even models are insanely aware of this, which is why there are so many specialty lines of cosmetics and hair products, or entire schools devoted to training people how to style black hair.

And that's just the surface. The ability to twiddle indiscriminately with skin color is mainly a white privilege. You can make Katie Holmes look ghostly or really tan and it doesn't really convey a social message. Do the same with Halle Berry and you'll find yourself on thin ice very quickly. Because in many other cultures, such as India or black America, the subject of skin lightness/darkness is a seriously charged issue, and for the most part that goes completely unnoticed by white people. Look at AskMe today for an example. When white editors or consumers profess this to be no big deal, or to be a purely technical matter related to printing, they're pretty much only putting their own privilege and ignorance on display. It may not really mean anything to them either way, but the images they're putting out there make a huge impact on the way other people regard themselves and each other.
posted by hermitosis at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


As much as I love the program, I have secretly harbored a desire to develop some sort of virus specifically designed to target and destroy Photoshop and other photo manipulation software. Something really nasty that would prevent it or anything like it from running.

I know that it would be only a matter of time before people figured out how to get around it, but I'm fascinated by the idea of what media would look like for those couple of weeks.
posted by quin at 1:47 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


making a pale girl look tan doesn't bother people, while this kind of thing does. I don't know why that's so hard for you to deal with.

What are we all to do, as photographers then, to ensure perfectly accurate and consistent color representation across every photo taken of them by everybody? Make all black people carry around graycards and hold 'em up before we take their photo?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:48 PM on September 16, 2010


What are we all to do, as photographers then, to ensure perfectly accurate and consistent color representation across every photo taken of them by everybody? Make all black people carry around graycards and hold 'em up before we take their photo?

maybe incorporate the existing skin tone into the planning as opposed to employing as many tricks as possible to make them look more like white people

just a crazy thought i had
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:50 PM on September 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm voting for incompetence born of ignorance (or is that vice-versa?), too. What a monumental pile of fail; that sucks. I actually remember that first Alek Wek Elle cover; I was fourteen or fifteen and it was literally the first time that I had ever seen (or noticed, anyway) a woman who looked truly, proudly different being celebrated on the strength of her own features, not on how well she could put on a mask of sameness. It meant a lot to me to see/hear that message at that age.

It's certainly true that the tools and conventions of the fashion publishing industry are often useless outside of a very narrow set of use cases. I've worked with so many hair artists who were flummoxed by what's euphemistically referred to as "ethnic" hair; makeup artists who did not know how to deal with Asian eyes or have a broad enough range of tones in their foundation box; stylists who had no ideas on how to dress a woman with an ass. Production folks who don't realize that messing with curves on black skin can get you away from reality fast. Art directors who have no cultural context or sensitivity that tells them what might be X on the cookie cutter model might be stupid or stunningly insensitive on a model of color. Photographers who aren't equipped to shoot dark skin.

Get together too many people who are kind of clueless, and you end up with this kind of debacle. The sad part is that the vast majority of them aren't awful people; they just don't know how to do work outside of the narrow spectrum they work within most often. And when the powers that be have a good day or whatever and let that spectrum admit someone who is different, you end up with a product that sucks, because no one knew how to pull it off.

Lame. Shouldn't we be more creative than that?
posted by peachfuzz at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Next thing you know they'll be putting Obama's head on Stalin's body.
posted by Kabanos at 1:59 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]




What are we all to do, as photographers then, to ensure perfectly accurate and consistent color representation across every photo taken of them by everybody? Make all black people carry around graycards and hold 'em up before we take their photo?

Uh. People with dark skin are not, like, challenges who might break your camera because it's like made for shooting lighter tones ONLY or something.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:01 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Uh. People with dark skin are not, like, challenges who might break your camera because it's like made for shooting lighter tones ONLY or something.

Right. My cameras shoot a wide range of visible light!

Except, if by change, it were to capture a person of color and maybe have it auto-expose it a stop or two up, then I'll be called a racist.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:11 PM on September 16, 2010


chance*
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:11 PM on September 16, 2010


Honestly, Threeway Handshake, no, you won't. Nobody cares about what your photos look like. Unless you're in a position for your photographs to influence public debates about subtle racism in representations of beauty in mainstream culture, and you've deliberately altered them in a manner people take offense to. Then people might care.

I think you're missing the point by a pretty wide margin.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:20 PM on September 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


Except, if by change, it were to capture a person of color and maybe have it auto-expose it a stop or two up, then I'll be called a racist.

Oh, stuff and nonsense. For that you would not be called a racist.

Now, if you were to offer knee-jerk and irrelevant counterarguments that dismiss out of hand the emotional cache of the prevailing mass-media message that lighter skin is more attractive and pleasing to look at, or if you belly-flopped into a discussion about a fashion magazine's well-intentioned ignorance of racial issues regarding that sort of thing and tried to somehow make it about white folks, or maybe if you were to unleash the old reductio ad absurdum in the face of legitimate and historically pretty valid concerns that Elle magazine's statement about the brouhaha amounts to saying that lightening a black woman's skin is a normal part of retouching to make her look better and they really don't see what all the fuss is about...then, maybe, yeah.

But as it stands I don't see where you've got anything to worry about.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:26 PM on September 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


Oh, and acting like Photoshopping a tan onto Kate Moss is somehow equivalent to whitening Gabourey Sidibe. That would also be troublesome.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:28 PM on September 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think it is the magazine industry that is prejudiced, we are prejudiced and the magazines are just catering to that. We just try to be all nice about it and deny.

Look to porn for an industry that makes no bones about catering to people's unattractive proclivities. When was the last time you saw a fat girl of any color in a regular porn shoot and not an "I screwed a whale" feature? Shit, I am a fat girl and I don't watch fat girls in porn. See? I am no different. I am part of the problem while being a victim to it.

Do I think it's ok for them to treat Gabourey Sidibe differently than their other models? Not really but I bet they sold more magazines than if they didn't so there's your price break.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:35 PM on September 16, 2010


I hope if they ever put me on the cover they'll take some of the ruddiness out of my face. That would be cool.
posted by zzazazz at 2:47 PM on September 16, 2010


Except, if by change, it were to capture a person of color and maybe have it auto-expose it a stop or two up, then I'll be called a racist.

I think the point that you're missing is that lightening someone's skin to the degree Elle did with their cover of Sidibe does not seem possible within the range of actual, physical photography. There's got to be some deliberate photoshopping work done in there somewhere, and that's the problem.

Although it does not address the specific problems related to lightening a woman of color's skin so that she's "front-page worthy," I like the point Melissa McEwan (from Shakesville) makes about the problem with photoshopping women's bodies in general: "If no one can ever be beautiful enough, then to what end is the pursuit of an elusive perfection?" So far she has a series going about this with 43 different examples.
posted by colfax at 2:51 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm more upset about that wig. It looks like a mailorder piece from an ad in a trash tabloid from 1983. (Shudder.)
posted by longsleeves at 3:18 PM on September 16, 2010


Except, if by change, it were to capture a person of color and maybe have it auto-expose it a stop or two up, then I'll be called a racist.

Honestly, that would not make someone call you a racist. This little defense of the bleaching off dark color skins on magazine covers could, otherwise, make someone call you a racist.

The act of photography is, in itself, not racist. The fact that the photographer took a picture with the flashes they used to create this photo, is not racist. The planning behind the photoshot, the lightening of the skin tone, and the systematic embrace of magazine covers to encourage the myth that the lighter the skin, the better looking the person (tans on white girls don't count in this regards), is racist. If you want to get defensive and feel the need to defend photographers everywhere or want to play the fake game of being afraid of being called "racist" and are then being stupid and obtuse about what people are actually talking about here, then as a brown person, I am going to look at you, roll my eyes, and call a spade a spade. You are, in essence, continuing to be part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. The context here is key. A large black woman is on a cover of a magazine that is specifically designed to sell how people are suppose to look. Her weight has been disposed of. Her skin color has been lightened. Thus, it is reinforcing the stereotype that her weight and the color of her skin are wrong and should not be part of our culture. It doesn't matter whether this was photoshopped or not. The fact that there was an editorial decision made to misrepresent her in an attempt at making her more "beautiful" by conforming her into unnatural cultural body standards, is the problem.

This is really not that hard to understand. You are not being attacked; the system is. If, however, you feel the need to defend the system because of your own personal privileged part in it, well, then I will probably need to post a tad more aggressively next time.
posted by Stynxno at 3:53 PM on September 16, 2010 [10 favorites]


What are we all to do, as photographers then, to ensure perfectly accurate and consistent color representation across every photo taken of them by everybody? Make all black people carry around graycards and hold 'em up before we take their photo?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:48 PM on September 16 [+] [!] Other [4/6]: «≡»

maybe incorporate the existing skin tone into the planning as opposed to employing as many tricks as possible to make them look more like white people

just a crazy thought i had
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:50 PM on September 16 [6 favorites] Other [1/3]: ·≡»


yep, this. and it can be done. carry a white card to bounce flash with; don't photograph dark people against dark backgrounds; find someplace lighter or more reflective to shoot; use fill flash when the sun is overhead or they're wearing a hat. Photographing a very dark person next to a very light person? Orient your camera (or your framing plan) so the dark person gets the flash (or the reflected light, or the white wall background, etc) and the light person doesn't.

I once had like no time to plan a news photo of a local government candidate who was black. he showed up wearing a black t-shirt and my editor asked him to stand against the wood-paneled wall in his office. boy did that picture come out turrible, and it was all our fault. lucky he was running unopposed, but I never made him look that bad again. I knew I'd be photographing dark-skinned people, and I planned.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


What are we all to do, as photographers then, to ensure perfectly accurate and consistent color representation across every photo taken of them by everybody?
Probably not:
Make all black people carry around graycards and hold 'em up before we take their photo?
Seriously, there is a difference between random variation caused by lighting and making a photo look nothing like the subject. How anyone could look at the cover of Elle and think that it doesn't look heavily shopped is beyond me. I mean, she just looks completely different. The editing is way beyond anything that could have happened naturally.

The funny thing is that Threeway Handshake actually seems to really like overexposing his photos. Maybe he just has a crappy monitor. Anyone who thinks you could have gotten that photo without a lot of tweaking obviously isn't much of a photographer.
posted by delmoi at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


seanmpuckett: People are beautiful in their humanity, not in how well they match up to some passing fancy of perfection. That woman is gorgeous. Fuck Elle for hiding her in half a dozen ways.
Foam pants put it better with her comparison to what porn offers and what we claim we "want"... but this is BS. Most people- yourself included, it seems- like to talk the talk but not walk the walk. I'd hazard that its not Gabourey Sidibe you'll be jacking it to tonight (or a male analogue if that's how you roll), that when you surf profiles at okcupid that your eye skips right over the similarly sized and colored women, that as much as you want us to think you're the kind of uber-sensitive and above-it-all enlightened guy who sees the "true beauty" inside... that it's just a line to get you in good with the hot chick you really fancy.

More power to her for her successful career, and I hope she has found much love in her life, but this woman is not very physically attractive. Not just to me- objectively, she's not pretty. That isnt said as a death sentence, but let's not pretend something is that isn't. However, as much as I agree that the fashion industry has skewed standards, they aren't 180 degress wrong; any whitewashing or right sizing done to her by the magazine industry is in response to what you and I and most people actually desire.
posted by hincandenza at 4:13 PM on September 16, 2010


but this woman is not very physically attractive. Not just to me- objectively, she's not pretty.

I don't think that objectively pretty or not pretty is a thing.

I mean, look at how body standards have changed in the last fifty-sixty years or so.

And even if it is a thing, it's a shitty thing. Also: Elle is not a jerk-off mag. It is a, I dunno, a fashion and society mag (? it's been many a year since I've looked at the mags insides). This is not a question of, well, we need to make her image as penis-hardening as possible because that's our mission here.
posted by angrycat at 4:20 PM on September 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know, I'm going to disagree with my fine colleague stynxno here. Threeway Handshake, sir, I do not think you are a racist. Many other things like tone deaf or willfully obtuse. But racist? No.

This FPP is discussing an overarching issue in society. In fact, where in the article did it say "Hey photographers, y'all are some RACISTS"? I'm kind of missing that...Calling out a troubling monolithic view of what beauty is seems to be more the vibe I got from it.

[Some more food for thought: The Color of Beauty. Seriously, watch the video, and listen to the words. Direct quote: "...white girls that were painted black...that's beauty to the industry's perspective..." and words like "elegant" used to describe white features.]

The point is there are many things in this cover that are pointing towards how the fashion industry and fashion magazines do not see beauty beyond a narrow spectrum and style towards it accordingly, whether on purpose or not. And if it is intentional or not, discussing it and pointing it out is a way maybe get some sort of change happening or at least lay on some knowledge for those who are not aware of the messages sent out by covers like this.

It's not just about how her skin looks lighter in this one incident in a vacuum. At least give the linked article that much credit. Let's break it down and review some points brought up in the article before the "Jump to Conclusions: The Defensive Home Version" mat got pulled out:

1. The hot mess that is her hair situation is evidence of styling techniques and products that do not take into account how to style black hair. This can actually be a highlight of several issues either a) there aren't enough hair stylists of color on staff or the stylists working on staff don't now how to work with hair of color, which in turn highlights a couple of subissues like how wow, mainstream haircare is kind of geared towards, well, white hair. Or at least hair that isn't textured, kinky, curly, what have you. Hell, the "beautiful hair" standard of a smiling model with gleaming straight hair that gets tossed around without having to be combed alone is infuriating. (cf. White fashion editor saying "OMG afro is a no-no" controversy and WHY that is problematic in the broader spectrum of white-dominated beauty standards)

2. The cropping of the photo. It's just such an odd "coincidence" that they decided to crop her body to such a degree. Out of all the photos that the photographer took during a photoshoot, he couldn't find one decent full-bodied photo? None of those photos looked good? Naturally you find yourself suspiciously asking "Well, exactly to WHOM did those photos not look good to and for WHAT reasons?"
posted by kkokkodalk at 4:20 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd like to add an afterthought, which is that the racial element is still subtly pervasive; as kkokkodalk and others are pointing out, the fashion industry *does* have a narrow view/blind spot in handling race, as well as diversity of appearances beyond their conditioned range. And there certainly is a cart/horse question with regard to beauty standards.

My sniveling little point was more strictly in response to seanmpucketts "up with people" comment; I'm not saying Elle is a skin mag or that Gabourey exists only to titillate us... rather that smp's comment was transparently a lie, and I challenge him on his claim that he thinks she's beautiful (as opposed to just giving empty lip service).
posted by hincandenza at 4:33 PM on September 16, 2010


I love the color of Sidibe's skin; it's a shame to wreck it like that. And also, seriously-- the hair? THat's the best you can do, Elle? That's malpractice, man!
posted by Mister_A at 5:08 PM on September 16, 2010


really like overexposing his photos. Maybe he just has a crappy monitor.

Oh I get it now, you can't tell between Lightroom's "vintage filter" and actual camera exposure.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:44 PM on September 16, 2010


More power to her for her successful career, and I hope she has found much love in her life, but this woman is not very physically attractive. Not just to me- objectively, she's not pretty.

Holy crap, that was a stupid thing to say. Is there some sort of almanac you referenced that has her listed in the "not pretty" column?

I think she's cute as hell. so what?


What are we all to do, as photographers then, to ensure perfectly accurate and consistent color representation across every photo taken of them by everybody?Make all black people carry around graycards and hold 'em up before we take their photo?

So what you're telling me Quentin Tarantino shot Pulp Fiction all on greenscreen, because everytime John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson were in the same room the cinematographer would faint from overexertion? For everyone making excuses for ELLE on some sort of technical basis...Newsflash! There are plenty of magazines with Black people on the cover all the time that don't need to resort to blatant skin-lightening to portray beauty.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:53 PM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Newsflash!

FYI, I was replying to the person that said that all of the google image search pictures of her that were lighter than the others were blatant photoshops exhibiting the racism.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:56 PM on September 16, 2010


FYI, I was replying to the person that said that all of the google image search pictures of her that were lighter than the others were blatant photoshops exhibiting the racism.

No-one said that.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:24 PM on September 16, 2010


The photo of the magazine cover is clearly washed out / brightened up. Look at her teeth. I really doubt the actual magazine cover is so light looking that her individual teeth aren't discernible. Also, the barcode is fuzzy in an off sort of way, as are the white letters and the flowers on her right shoulder area.

And the comparison photo just isn't all that flattering. She looks like there is a Sears photographer there holding a puppet and saying "ok now, big smile". Where in the Elle cover she couldn't be happier.

So, I'm calling shenanigans.

Whether it is racially charged or not, we all look differently in different light. If you shoot me in the wrong lighting, I look like a white blob with two eye-spots and two nostrils. A couple stops darker and I look like an insomniac with liver troubles.
posted by gjc at 6:28 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fashion magazines are fantasy. Why is this any sort of occasion for outrage?

Her agent would have signed off on the cover shot, so it's not likely that she or her representation are unhappy with the photo.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:35 PM on September 16, 2010


And that's just the surface. The ability to twiddle indiscriminately with skin color is mainly a white privilege. You can make Katie Holmes look ghostly or really tan and it doesn't really convey a social message. Do the same with Halle Berry and you'll find yourself on thin ice very quickly. Because in many other cultures, such as India or black America, the subject of skin lightness/darkness is a seriously charged issue, and for the most part that goes completely unnoticed by white people. Look at AskMe today for an example. When white editors or consumers profess this to be no big deal, or to be a purely technical matter related to printing, they're pretty much only putting their own privilege and ignorance on display. It may not really mean anything to them either way, but the images they're putting out there make a huge impact on the way other people regard themselves and each other.

Utter nonsense.

The subject had the power to approve or disapprove the picture, she clearly thought it was a nice photo of herself and approved it. No racism. Unless she is a racist herself.

If a photograph can change the way people regard themselves, racism isn't their problem.

Having known a few racists in my time, I can assure you that the degree of darkness really wasn't an issue with them. The only time I've ever heard people talk about the varying degrees of blackness has come from black people. And it was not negative toward one way or another. Talking about our differences in skin color is just something we do. I'm sure if cats could talk, they would discuss their skin patterns.

We can't go around walking on eggshells because of the racists and the hyper sensitive enrage-aholics out there. They are the ones with the problem. Not magazine photographers.
posted by gjc at 6:41 PM on September 16, 2010


Fur patterns.
posted by gjc at 6:41 PM on September 16, 2010


We can't go around walking on eggshells because of the racists and the hyper sensitive enrage-aholics out there. They are the ones with the problem. Not magazine photographers.

I was prepared to be all offended here but you know what, you're pretty articulate for a white guy.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:54 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having known a few racists in my time, I can assure you that the degree of darkness really wasn't an issue with them. The only time I've ever heard people talk about the varying degrees of blackness has come from black people. And it was not negative toward one way or another.

huh? i mean, that's wrong, and I could try to describe how/why/what/where but didn't somebody in this thread cite to the passage of Obama's book where he reads about folks bleaching their skin so that they could have whiter skin?

also, you're doing a lot of mind reading of both racists and black people.
posted by angrycat at 6:58 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


FYI, I was replying to the person that said that all of the google image search pictures of her that were lighter than the others were blatant photoshops exhibiting the racism.
Maybe you have reading comprehension issues. But I didn't say anything about racism. I just said the photos were photoshopped, because they were. If you think the photo on the Elle cover is natural, you clearly don't know much about photography.

The GIS showed tons of normal pictures, and like literally one or two that had been lightened. The lightened ones were totally obvious and there were normal photos of her from the same event.
Fashion magazines are fantasy. Why is this any sort of occasion for outrage?
The problem is that the "fantasy" here is lighter skin, and the implication is that really dark skin is a flaw that needs to be corrected in post-production.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on September 16, 2010


We can't go around walking on eggshells because of the racists and the hyper sensitive enrage-aholics out there.
Why is it that the people who complain about 'hyper sensitivity' and 'rageaholics' are the ones who spend the most time raging?
Talking about our differences in skin color is just something we do.
Except you seem pretty upset about it.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bah, this sucks. I think Gabby Sidibe's skin is her very best feature. Her dad is from Senegal, so, yeah, she's going to have pretty dark skin. Absolutely lovely skin.

This comes on the heels of perusing sexyjobs.com* and reading every.fucking.ad. being open to all races of girls, except black girls. Or black girls, but only if they're "light skinned Ebonys".

Puke puke puke.

This whole cover is a disaster. Cruise on over to Jezebel, in the comment reel there are four or five wonderful magazine photos of Sidibe, photos that are at least somewhat reflective of her actual skin tone and body shape. Oh, and the fact that she does not normally wear a Michelle Duggar wig.


*Yeah, I was looking for a job as a phone sex operator. I'm broke, have a nice voice, and am good on the phone. It was just an idea.
posted by Leta at 7:28 PM on September 16, 2010


Having known a few racists in my time...

Oh, wow, duuude. That's awesome! Do you have any black friends too? I got some white friends. We should totally hang out and maybe trade them sometimes. I think I've got some Asians too. My deck is kind of weak right now to be honest.

I can assure you that the degree of darkness really wasn't an issue with them. The only time I've ever heard people talk about the varying degrees of blackness has come from black people. And it was not negative toward one way or another.

First of all, who even CARES? Who said anything about offending or not offending racists based on lightness or darkness? And the second part of what you said? Do you even know the history of the politics of degrees of darkness in the black community? Are you seriously saying that a) it happens and b) it ain't a big deal? Because yes, it happens. And WHY does it happen? Because of this cover shoot bullshit right here. Darker IS seen as bad in the black community among some people and it's a real issue with black women as to how they are too black or too kinky-haired even for their OWN race. Good hair vs. bad hair anybody? This is how a narrow white makes right beauty standard is affecting the black community and I'm sorry but you're just talking out of your ass right here.

Whether it is racially charged or not, we all look differently in different light. If you shoot me in the wrong lighting, I look like a white blob with two eye-spots and two nostrils. A couple stops darker and I look like an insomniac with liver troubles.

Wait, what? All right, let's take a knee for a second. Seriously, what are you and Threeway Handshake trying to say here? Really. I feel like you guys want to say something and I'm really trying here, but to me it's just coming out like you're tilting at windmills at shit no one is even discussing to prove some greater point about how you are not racists or something I don't even know. Help me out here.

Oh, ok, so your examples of BAD photography totally negate the discussion here about what was the thought process in the very deliberate act of picking a cover photo. This picture, as we've been trying to explain to Threeway Handshake prior to you blundering in here, was that this is not talking about accidents. His hyperbolic cry of "they're coming to take me away haha! For bad lighting!!" is ridiculous because that is NOT what is being discussed at all. The editors picked this photo. Some people have a bone to pick about that So are you saying the editors picked a bad photo on purpose? Yes everyone looks different in different light, but there's a world of difference between red eye, or looking haggard or harsh because of lighting or being totally washed out in a harsh flash versus having dramatically different skin tone. This was done purposefully. This isn't washed out or overexposed. This has been tinkered to appear the way it does.
posted by kkokkodalk at 7:36 PM on September 16, 2010 [9 favorites]


Fur patterns.

Actually the underlying skin on cats matches the patterns in their fur.


But what you should realize here is that when we discuss this subject in regards to "racism", no body here is implying that Elle magazine is running around burning crosses on Black people's lawns. It's shorthand for "hey, this act seems reminiscent of a mindset we're all trying to get past." Nobody has to walk on eggshells. Even if the Elle situation turns out to be simple machine error, it doesn't mean the larger societal problem of manipulation of media to reinforce racial bias isn't a real problem that needs to be discussed.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:59 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Take a look at any picture of yourself: how true is the color of your own skin?

Take a look at my profile. My arms are two different colors. Unretouched photo (except the cropping). WTF.
posted by desjardins at 8:13 PM on September 16, 2010


The 20-something ladies wanted to acknowledge the first time in their lifetimes that Essence magazine—a formidable Black women’s print beloved by scores Black girls for 40 years—does not have a Black fashion director.

Did they have anything to say about the content of Ellianna Placas's character, or were they only concerned with the color of her skin?

You'd think that none of the people who are fussing about this cover had ever taken a picture in their lives, or rather, that they'd ever looked critically at the color balance of a picture, or even cropped one. Actually, I'll bet that's true, since most people do simply point and click, then trust the camera for everything else. So essentially, all of the outrage is coming from a position of profound ignorance.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:12 PM on September 16, 2010


Tangential point - those saying that Sidibe or her people must have approved the photo should probably realize that it doesn't always work that way. Lance Armstrong's recent cover for Outside is a good example.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:21 PM on September 16, 2010


I'm amazed she got on the cover at all given what a godawful mumbling wooden actor she is.
There is this odd phenomenon you see a lot : an actor plays a character who suffers a lot, and then people heap love on the actor whether they did a good job or not. It's like they confuse the movie with real life and want to make up for all the bad stuff that happened to the actor in the story.
posted by w0mbat at 9:32 PM on September 16, 2010


Right, she may have approved a proof of the photo that was used, but I doubt the person featured gets final approval on the whole cover layout and image editing.
posted by hermitosis at 9:45 PM on September 16, 2010


given what a godawful mumbling wooden actor she is.

I've seen Sidibe on TV a couple of times, and she's positively radiant. She has a natural charisma and intelligence that shines through the tube. It's hard for me to believe that she's not a fine actress.

If she comes across as wooden in Precious, (I didn't see it) you might look to the director. Or perhaps you were confusing the character she was playing with her acting...because, you know, she was acting.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:51 PM on September 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


So essentially, all of the outrage is coming from a position of profound ignorance.

This makes no sense to me and you don't back it up at all. Elle is the largest fashion magazine in the world. I am to believe that their photographers suck so badly that Sidibe's coloring is markedly off, when the shallowest perusal of her images in Google shows that the vast majority of photographers, amateur and professional, somehow manage to capture her darker skin in natural settings. Look at this Ebony cover. That is a lot closer to her actual skin color. The Elle cover is quite a few shades lighter. It's also much more likely to have been done after the shoot. It's not an accident or a trick of the light. It's a decision, the kind of decision that has been made before. They made her lighter in order to perpetuate the "fantasy" that another commenter offered as a defense of Elle.

The outrage isn't coming from any position of ignorance. It comes from seeing this happen time after time. It comes from observing a pattern of racial bias where we are taught that lighter is better. It's not a conspiracy because it isn't hidden at all.

And of course, Elle magazine isn't even claiming it was the lighting or anything like that. They don't see anything wrong or off about the picture at all, and simply argue that the picture wasn't retouched "any more or less than" the other covers for the month. So it's interesting to me that all of these Elle defenders are making arguments the magazine itself does not make, and all for the purpose of denying racial bias. Who is really arguing from ignorance? Some of y'all don't even seem to know about colorism, I mean, I think your ignorance is weird.
posted by Danila at 12:09 AM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


You'd think that none of the people who are fussing about this cover had ever taken a picture in their lives, or rather, that they'd ever looked critically at the color balance of a picture, or even cropped one. Actually, I'll bet that's true, since most people do simply point and click, then trust the camera for everything else. So essentially, all of the outrage is coming from a position of profound ignorance.
Dude, it's the other way around. There's no way a photo of her could be that light without some heavy editing. It just isn't natural. Again, actually look at the GIS. There are only one or two images that show her being so light, and they were obviously retouched as well.

Really man, if you don't think that picture is heavily shopped, you're delusional.
posted by delmoi at 12:41 AM on September 17, 2010


There's no way a photo of her could be that light without some heavy editing. It just isn't natural.

Of course it's heavily shopped. It's a magazine cover. All those other pictures were shopped too. The editor pushed the color curves around to get something that would pop out on the magazine racks. Tempest in a teacup.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:22 AM on September 17, 2010


Of course it's heavily shopped. It's a magazine cover. All those other pictures were shopped too. The editor pushed the color curves around to get something that would pop out on the magazine racks.
So what is your point? Some people in this thread didn't seem to believe that, because they were idiots. Since you agree the curves were altered, what exactly is your criticism? That changing someone's skin tone from really dark to medium dark is no big deal? She looks like a completely different person.
posted by delmoi at 1:51 AM on September 17, 2010


Cropping is an artistic choice (for me) and probably a practical choice for the magazine.

Lightening? To my eye that's just a gamma adjustment - keeping the highlights and shadows in place and just moving the midtones up. *shrugs*
posted by TrinsicWS at 2:39 AM on September 17, 2010



Of course it's heavily shopped. It's a magazine cover. All those other pictures were shopped too. The editor pushed the color curves around to get something that would pop out on the magazine racks. Tempest in a teacup.


well thank christ a white dude is here to tell everyone this is no big deal
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:03 AM on September 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


You know what would 'pop' and get my attention on the magazine racks? A cover of a black woman who was shown as dark as she really is.
posted by sandraregina at 6:37 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The subject had the power to approve or disapprove the picture, she clearly thought it was a nice photo of herself and approved it.

How do you know this? I was under the impression that once the photo session is done (or the photo is purchased from the image library), the magazine doesn't have to give the person any say in how it's used at all. I'm sure I've heard of several dust-ups because starlets were upset at the extreme photoshopping of their faces.

I really don't understand why so many white dudes are in here defending the poor photography and Photoshopping skills of a magazine they probably don't even read. You really need to have a think about why you feel the need to do it.
posted by harriet vane at 8:48 AM on September 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Except you seem pretty upset about it.

No, not really. I'm not raging. Just tired of how arguments about race here just do not reflect the reality I experience every day, living and working with people of a wide variety of backgrounds. I mean, maybe the south and west sides of Chicago are areas of racial harmony and love compared to where most of the people here live, I don't know.

If the magazine was racist, why put a black girl on the cover at all?

huh? i mean, that's wrong, and I could try to describe how/why/what/where but didn't somebody in this thread cite to the passage of Obama's book where he reads about folks bleaching their skin so that they could have whiter skin?

also, you're doing a lot of mind reading of both racists and black people.


The only people doing mind reading are those who are attempting to divine racism from a magazine cover. I'm talking about what actual people say.
posted by gjc at 8:48 AM on September 17, 2010


The only people doing mind reading are those who are attempting to divine racism from a magazine cover. I'm talking about what actual people say.

so the people who don't happen to be white in this thread who are talking about how this is a historically problematic thing which is likely being done out of ignorance and not actual cross-burning furious bigotry -- i'm glad to know their feedback can be safely ignored without being read or considered but just in case, would you mind telling me why what they're saying doesn't matter?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:55 AM on September 17, 2010


This is frustrating because some people are arguing that "of course it's photoshopped, so?" and others are arguing that this is clearly not any intentional alteration at all and people are seeing things. I wish there was a way to get those people to argue with each other and spare the rest of us having to give racism 101 classes. Once they've worked it out between themselves and they've all figured out that the picture is indeed altered to make her appear significantly lighter, we can debate why that is a problem.
posted by Danila at 8:59 AM on September 17, 2010


I wish there was a way to get those people to argue with each other and spare the rest of us having to give racism 101 classes.

Indeed. I was just a little GRAR last night, but when I came back to the thread this morning I was really disappointed over the level of...I don't know, willful obtuseness? Reflexive privilege denying? Something insidious and crappy.

We get that some of you don't think it's a big deal to lighten a black person's skin when holding them up as a role model for the mainstream, or that it's all related to photography and printing conventions people couldn't possible understand and there's no harm (which, as an editor and art director, I call bullshit on). But that has almost nothing to do with the actual conversation, which kind of makes it all the stranger that people would get so defensive and smug about it.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:38 AM on September 17, 2010


which kind of makes it all the stranger that people would get so defensive and smug about it.

There is a disconnect of which I am still trying to make heads or tails: That the people who so stridently deny the existence of white privilege also become absolutely apoplectic at any imagined threat to it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2010


hincandenza: The set of people I find beautiful only partially overlaps the set of people I find sexually stimulating. You're welcome to your own categorizations but your projection of them onto me is incorrect and your reduction of my argument thereby is invalid.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:17 AM on September 17, 2010


For those of you who aren't getting it...

Here is why this matters. And here. And here. And here. And, of course, here.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:05 PM on September 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


[Couple comments removed. Arguments about who is favoriting what pretty much need to happen in Metatalk if they're going to happen anywhere.]
posted by cortex at 4:04 PM on September 17, 2010


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