AI Thinks I’m a Dude

Recently, I was talking to one of my old friends about being mistaken for a man. It happens to her fairly often, depending on how she’s dressed, since she is not shaped like the stereotypical Barbie-doll person, has short hair, often dresses androgynously, and is blessed with a deep voice (one of my favorite former singing partners). It doesn’t happen to me very often, probably because I like shiny accessories so much. Neither my friend nor I are particularly bothered by being mis-gendered, though I know it can be really difficult for some of our other friends, especially those who are trans.

I’ve talked about this before, but I tend to see my father’s face when I look in a mirror; I don’t have especially “feminine” features. And, now that my hair is quite short, it’s more noticeable, even though we all probably know enough people with different lengths, styles, and colors of hair to realize that any hair stereotype out there is pretty outdated. So, I was prepared to see interesting results when I tried that new AI software that turns your photographs into cartoons or paintings. As you can see, one setting gave me blue eyes and made me look like a 12-year-old boy.

My lovely friend.

I’d seen a few that my female-identified friends had done, and they looked cute/pretty and like women. I admit my example here is extremely lovely, but you can see they gave her eyelashes, lipstick, and such. That makes me think that the software makes a guess about whether an image is of a male or a female. I’d love to see more images from people who don’t identify one way or the other or who provide few cues to what they are trying to tell the world about themselves.

Adding glasses made me look more like a woman, but increased bye crossed-eyes.

Another thing that I notice about this software is that it’s very literal. I appear to have a “lazy eye” in most of the AI renderings, though at least in some of the photos I used I had appropriately brown eyes. The thing is, these things look nothing at all like me, whereas the ones I’ve seen of other people at least resemble them enough that you can say, “Ah, that’s so and so.” Well, it’s no big secret that AI is not perfect and that it is worse with women and people of color than men. Of note: none of my friends with darker complexions posted their little cartoon heads, unless I just didn’t see it in my feed, which is a possibility.

The bottom line for me is that the images are just plain…plain. Dare I say unattractive? I don’t imagine myself as some raving beauty, but I hope I am not as aesthetically displeasing as these images came out. The ambiguous, gender-fluid aspect is fine, even fun, but I’d like to be an attractive guy!

Oh, vanity, thy name turns out to be Suna, and THAT is not pretty, at all. Let’s change the topic, so you can enjoy Alfred and Goldie getting along well, and a nice photo of Goldie. I wish they hadn’t cropped her ears, but she’s still got a sweet, yet noble face. Like me!

Have you tried playing with the AI toy? Do you find it fun? I guess it appeals to fans of the selfie. Sometimes I am one of those, just because observing and recording the aging process is pretty fascinating.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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