Between humor and anime reels, Instagram occasionally serves me thought provoking reels. Yes, I realize there’s a reason my algorithm acts like this. That’s not the point. I wasn’t hunting for Shudu Gram, but Abadesi discussion about her in a Hustle Crews reel grabbed attention. Before we get into it, feel free to watch the clip.
Who Is Shudu Gram?
If you didn’t watch the clip, Shudu is the self proclaimed “First Digital Supermodel” that was designed by Caucasian fashion photographer Cameron James Wilson. She’s got 238,000 followers on Instagram. Technically, the CGI turned 6-years old this year. The man that created it claims that he wanted to celebrate a beauty image that isn’t represented in media enough. Was his contribution really necessary? Is there a shortage of dark skinned models looking for work or is a black woman’s beauty more palatable in virtual form?
What’s The Big Deal?
On the surface, people might wonder what’s the harm in using virtual models. Shouldn’t the black community be happy that a dark skinned beauty is revolutionizing how we use technology in the fashion industry? Yes, she’s a dark skinned model, but models make more money from ad campaigns than runway shows. Models are already losing commerical deals to celebrities.
Also, you can’t create something out of nothing. Meaning someones likeness was used to create Shudu’s face and figure. According to an article featured in Vogue Paris, Shudu’s design was inspired by “The Princess of South Africa” Barbie doll. In theory, she’s based of a fictional beauty. That still seems suspicious to me.
I did not realize that the Pandemic gave virtual models and influencers like Shudu the opportunity to work. With the world quarantining in place, virtual models weren’t impacted by COVID-19 Prevention Measures. CBC News published a post about them December 21, 2020
What Will CGI Models Do To The Beauty Industry?
Modeling is already a young girls industry. The body style needed is heavily determined by Fashion designer. The younger you start the longer you’ll last. There are older women that still grace the runway. In most cases, they have to get their foot in the door of other industries for full-time work. If a designer has the option to manipulate how their clothes lay on a virtual figure, how about the models face. Rather than finding the it girl, they can make her. The proof is in websites like the diigitals. Virtual models aren’t restricted to slim figures. All body types can be created and manipulated for influencer purposes. Even mental and physical differences are up for grabs.
I am curious to see how these virtual models and influencers will impact employment opportunities for living and breathing models. Will graphic designers like Cameron James Wilson monopolize the modeling industry. Will these virtual influencers take brand deals from human influencers? Only time will tell.
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