A Twitt from occasional commenter @szvan alerted me to this blog post pointing to an AP story about the recent State Dinner hosted by the President and First Lady. The blog post was updated to say the AP story had been subsequently edited to redact the offending bit [ edited version ] but I was able to screen capture what seems to be the original version. Anybody spot the problem?
Seriously? Somebody put that copy together with that photo and thought "flesh-colored gown"? Someone edited that copy and didn't think there was anything a bit off?
I mean yes, it all looks completely obvious once it is called out. Right? Most well intentioned folks would see that it is kind of silly in this multicultural world to continue to use "flesh-colored" for anything, given the diversity of skin colors that are in the public eye on a daily basis.
[I will pause here for a science-y sidebar. You really should go over to Gene Expression and read razib's posts on skin color determination. Start here and here, then go here, here, here.]
But presumably at least to the news team that wrote, edited and approved that article the error wasn't obvious. It didn't draw the editorial eye as would an error of spelling or grammar (one presumes). Even when it was in the context of a reasonably dark-skinned person, this color descriptor didn't pop out. Amazing to some of us. A trigger for the old point-and-laugh-at-the-dumbass.
But of course this is a greater object lesson that we can feel free to apply to ourselves. Ed Brayton recently referred to prior Vice Presidential candidate, former Alaska Governor and current book-tour media personality Sarah Palin as "an unhinged shrew". Comrade PhysioProf objected and Ed Brayton dug in his heels. Isis and BikeMonkey have expounded in the expected directions, respectively. Ed has another reply here so if you are interested in the specifics you can go play where the action is.
What I find fascinating about these situations is the way something that is almost absurdly obvious to some as offensive is not even remotely on the radar of others. Far enough outside the box that even a champagne-tinted garment worn by the entirely fabulous Michelle Obama can be described as "flesh-colored" without remark.
What similarly obvious nonsense is off of your radar, Dear Reader?
[UPDATE: I really should have remembered to link an earlier post of PalMD's about skin color in medical diagnosis.]
Quotes are from a delightful book: The skin you live in. M. Tyler and D. L. Csicsko. (Amazon; Chicago Children's Museum; Independent Publishers Group)