Why has the world's first digital supermodel courted controversy?

Posted by
Louise Whitbread
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People are not happy with the world’s first digital supermodel. Here’s why.

With 40K followers and striking looks, model Shudu has attracted huge criticism from fans. The problem? She’s not real.

Her account was created last year but she started attracting attention at the beginning of February when Fenty Beauty reposted an image of her wearing a the Mattemoiselle Saw-C lipstick. But fans quickly started to question if it was too good to be true, which led to her creator, photographer Cameron-James Wilson, admitting she was made using 3D imaging during an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.

Wilson was learning 3D imagery for graphic novels and animations, which led him to create the character of Shudu, taking inspiration from model Duckie Thot and the Princess of South Africa Barbie doll. He has also built a male model called Nfon.

Upon the revelation that Shudu was fake, followers refused to accept that it was simply his personal project and voiced their disappointment on Twitter. In an industry where women of color struggle to have a platform, people took issue with a white man creating a dark-skinned model digitally rather than promoting real-life black models.

Upon receiving criticism, Wilson explained to that Shudu was not a replacement for real models and the image had been posted to Instagram without his permission. He explained his intention behind her, “After receiving a lot of inspiring, supportive comments from people who felt that Shudu was and uplifting and positive art piece, who reflected a true beauty ideal untainted by westernised standards, the art changed. I’m not trying to replace models and if anything it’s a criticism in how fake society has become that a CGI model can pass for real.”