In recent months, many melanin-rich models have reigned supreme in the fashion industry, commanding the catwalk and dominating the pages of some of the world's most renowned magazines. Now, a new model who became significantly more famous through appearing on Fenty Beauty's Instagram page has drawn shock and criticism from many.
Meet Shudu, the internet's latest obsession - and figure of controversy. This dark-skinned beauty has a growing Instagram following, and has posted a number of sultry and artistic shots.
So what's the issue?
She's not real.
Shudu Gram - the clue is in the appropriate surname - is a computer generated character. The brainchild of photographer and digital artist Cameron-James Wilson, Shudu was a "way for him to express his creativity," as he said to magazine Harper's Bazaar.
Wilson did point to the rise in darker-skinned models making it to the top, saying "she represents them and is inspired by them. Obviously some models like Duckie were definitely big inspirations for her as well."
Since knowledge of his 'project' went mainstream however, Wilson has updated Shudu's bio to include 'world's first digital supermodel'. The creation of Shudu did not sit well with some people.
Leaving aside general fears of technology replacing humanity in ever-increasing roles - some found the idea of a white man gaining prominence through the image of black women problematic, and could exacerbate the lack of representation, which though somewhat improved, is far from settled.
So Shudu was created by a white man to profit off of black women without actually having to pay them??? HELLA NERVE. Technology came a long way however It’s plenty of dark skinned models who look like her but they get overlooked. Book them instead of cloning them. https://t.co/oiB7vA8l7U— Emma Frost 3/12💎 (@Drebae_) February 28, 2018
Wilson has claimed that he is not profiting from Shudu, or a male model figure he made, Nfon (whose Instagram is no longer accessible), but many still think this is a worrying development.
Who thought that technology was going to come for modelling? We didn't see that coming!
Are you amazed by Shudu or annoyed? Do you think digital models are the future?
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