Sure: Snapchat dog ears stopped being cool a while back, but the digital revolution is just getting started. And before you scoff at tech geeks ability to create a robot hotter than Gigi Hadid—they don’t need to; “digital supermodels” can now be created from scratch.
At the moment fashion companies have to rely on real people (y’know, those things that argue, need to eat, get tired, throw tantrums, need training, and get followed around by paparazzi) to represent their brand.
London based photographer, Cameron-James Wilson, has shown they no longer need to. As reported by The Washington Post, the 29-year-old has created a “digital model” called Shudu, a striking (yet 100% fictitious) Instagram model from Africa with more than 130,000 followers.
“Despite her entrancing beauty, Shudu is a purely digital being, a fact that Wilson revealed after Shudu’s image went viral, ending months of frenzied speculation about her origin this year.”
If the amazement in the comment section is anything to go by (“Can you believe this is a digital model,” “No way,” and “I bet dudes slid into her dms thinking she’s real”) over her lifelike features, one would imagine she won’t be the last solo-screen model to grace our… screens.
As The Post points out, “She arrives at a time in which Instagram, Snapchat filters and photo-editing apps… have (already) blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, turning ordinary people into paintings or delicately featured digital avatars who preen for likes.”
And she’s not the only one: Time magazine recently included an enigmatic digital avatar turned style icon named Lil Miquela on its list of the 25 most influential people on the Internet. Miquela is managed by an LA software firm—and has 1.3 million fans who hang on to her every word (and fashion choices).
This has left people wondering if digital models will increase the pressure on younger generations to get “lip, hip and tit” jobs. The simple answer is yes, but as Wilson told The Washington Post, it really comes down to the creators.
“Wilson… created models that have dark skin, feminine curves, fine wrinkles and realistic stretch marks, details he added to promote diversity and embrace natural beauty.”
Renee Engeln, a Northwestern University professor and psychologist disagreed, telling CNN, “There is no world in which this is good for women’s health.”
“To know that women are going to be comparing themselves to women who . . . are literally inhuman strikes me as some kind of joke that isn’t very funny.”
Only time will tell. But surely if young audiences know models are not real they will feel less pressure to emulate them. Whether or not it’s 100% healthy is another matter—but it can’t be worse than the current climate where real people are photoshopped.