When we considered what jobs are most likely to be replaced by robots, we did not include supermodels. Technically, we’re still in the clear — this digital Instagram supermodel isn’t a robot, but she’s certainly not a real human, either! Shudu is the creation of photographer Cameron James-Wilson, and she’s been brought to life with computer-generated graphics. But, that hasn’t stopped her or James-Wilson from working with some major beauty and fashion brands, bringing her following to almost 75,000 over the past year.
OK, so maybe 75,000 isn’t quite supermodel territory when it comes to followings. She’s probably on her way to superstardom, though — after modeling a T-shirt from SOULSKY, she got some serious recognition by wearing lipstick from Rihanna’s Fenty brand, followed by earrings from Oscar de la Renta. She and her creator are now getting a lot more attention as a result, along with all the challenges that come along with the spotlight.
Reactions have been divided. Some have celebrated James-Wilson and Shudu for encouraging darker-skinned women to see themselves as beautiful, while others have criticized the project for taking away opportunities from real women trying to break into modeling. James-Wilson, a white man from the United Kingdom, has also been accused of cultural appropriation for capitalizing on the image of a darker-skinned woman.
James-Wilson dove into those questions in an interview with independent journalist Isiuwa Igodan. During the interview, he talks about how Shudu was inspired by a tribe in South Africa, with the name coming from an ongoing conversation he had with a girl from South Africa. He took that inspiration and his own concept of beauty and combined it with what he knew how to do best — digital art. The whole interview is a pretty interesting read!
But, it’s certainly not the first time virtual models have made it into the world of fashion! We can recall a few examples.