A quick image search sinks claims that female swimmers have "not a dude" slogans on their costumes. Image by AP PHOTO

Photo fakery behind ‘not a dude’ images

Tom Wark March 29, 2024

Female swimmers are wearing swimsuits with the phrase “not a dude” written on them.


False. The images have been manipulated. 

Images being applauded on social media show female swimmers wearing costumes bearing the phrase “not a dude” as a supposed statement on transgender people competing in women’s sport.

The photos of girls and young women at swimming competitions have the phrase showing on the crotch of their costumes.

The images are false. The photos have been manipulated to add the words and the original photos are up to 10 years old, predating current arguments about transgender athletes.

One Facebook post (archived here) shows four female high school water polo players standing beside a pool with their swimsuits labelled with the “not a dude” phrase.

However, a reverse image search shows the earliest version of the photo was published by a girls’ Catholic high school in the US in 2014.

The photo appeared in a preview of the 2014 water polo season and shows clearly that the team members’ swimsuits did not have the phrase.

Facebook post
 A photo has been manipulated to include words on women’s swimsuits. (Faces blurred by AAP FactCheck) 

Comments on the photo include “great to see women protecting their sport”, “way to go girls” and “keep the trend going”.

Some commenters are aware of the fakery, with remarks such as “it’s an edited image”, and others are critical of the appropriation of the image, with one comment being “you think it’s okay to photoshop something on some girls crotches without their consent? It’s not”.

More examples of digitally manipulated photos can be seen in posts on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter.

Fact-checking organisation AFP Fact Check published a check on the image in this Facebook post, which included the caption “has it really come to this …”.

The fact-checkers confirmed that the original photo was taken in 2018 and did not show the “not a dude” phrase on the athletes’ swimsuits.

Many altered images appear on Facebook pages – such as this one and this one – that seem to collate photos of women and girls in sporting gear and have hashtags such as #PhotoEditingChallenge and #bestphotochallenge, which link to collections of digitally manipulated images.

In some cases, the unedited and manipulated versions of the same photo can be found on the same page.

The Verdict

The claim that female swimmers are wearing swimsuits with the phrase “not a dude” written on them is false.

The images have been manipulated. The original photos can be found online through reverse image searches

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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