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Lena Söderberg's photograph

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Lena Söderberg's photograph is an image from the November 1972 issue of Playboy magazine. A 512x512 pixel crop of the image is often used in image processing experiments. The cropped image, itself called Lenna or Lena, is a headshot of the model looking over her bare shoulder at the camera.

The photograph was first used in image processing experiments in 1973, by then-graduate student Alexander Sawchuk. It continues to be widely used in image processing demonstrations and examples in the present day.

While it is a non-explicit image, it is a sexualized one, and thus invokes the following concerns:

  • it implies that the intended audience is a heterosexual male one (othering)
  • as a stereotypical model pose by a conventionally attractive woman it plays into body image concerns

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“Suggestive pictures used in lectures on image processing are similarly distracting to the women listeners and convey the message that the lecturer caters to the males only. For example, it is amazing that the ‘Lena’ pin-up image is still used as an example in courses and published as a test image in journals today”

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