The Dig ‘IT’ Girl: Meet Shudu, the CGI Model Taking Instagram by Storm

From drones on the catwalk to dresses that light up and change colour, social media within today’s society uses technology more than ever, mixing rapidly with fashion. The latest technological phenomenon is model, Shudu. With over 80 thousand followers on Instagram, you may have come across her page. She’s beautiful, she’s tall, her melanin skin is impossibly flawless. Oh, and she’s fake. This digitalised model is the work of photographer Cameron-James Wilson, who used 3d technology to create her.

‘I was learning how to create 3D imagery for graphic novels and animations and I had the opportunity to create model, however, I wanted,’ Cameron-James tells ‘So I created the most beautiful woman I could.’

His inspiration for her came from south Sudanese fashion model, Duckie Thot. The Australian born model has shot into the limelight over the past few years, starting out on Australia’s Next Top Model in 2013. Now she has walked for Kanye West, and is being mentored by Rihanna, featuring her Fenty Beauty campaigns.

When here first Instagram post dropped back in April 2017 attention did not take long, as people flocked to the comment section, praising the models’ beauty whilst unaware that Shudu is in fact not human.
The attention for Shudu started to snowball when Rihanna’s beauty brand Fenty reposted an image of her wearing the brand’s bright orange lipstick. This image had been created without Fenty’s involvement and at the time, it hadn’t been established that Shudu was not a real person. Her rise in popularity meant that Cameron had to clarify that she wasn’t real, which brought about its own buzz.

Although this creation is receiving a lot of admiration, people also have a different opinion about creating black models. In recent years, black women have only just started to be represented in a good light with more role models in the form of Lupita N’yongo coming into mainstream media. And social media is also a big part of that. Social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are producing images of black women challenging the stereotypes, going against the status quo. We are now seeing an abundance of images of black women living successful, happy lives, being entrepreneurs, having healthy relationships, getting an education and buying property.
Some people have taken to Twitter to express their concerns regarding the idea that a white male photographer has manufactured a model in the image of a black woman and making potential profit from it, instead of using real models.

But Cameron swiftly defended his reasons for creating Shudu, stating that she was not a ‘money spinner or a business’ in an interview with Highs Nobiety.

“The comments that have been most critical of what I’m doing have been from white women, which was kind of unexpected. I had dark skinned girls and women message me to say that they absolutely love the art that I’m doing…This is why I like to do interviews; to show people what’s behind it. This is not trying to take away from anyone but it is trying to add to the standard of beauty that’s being shifted to something much more inclusive.”

Cameron also stated that it was a difficult process for him to create Shudu, due to the lack of software that catered to making ethnic features. “Just the same as in many industries, the 3D world is sorely lacking ethnic diversity and black characters and assets are particularly rare…”. Although it was not his intention for Shudu, Cameron is now taking steps to make a push to help shift and progress the technology. “…It wasn’t something intentional from the start, but now I’m very interested in helping to create the resources needed for game developers and 3D designers to make more diverse characters”.

Shudu is not the only Digital model to grace Instagram, with a digital model created by artist J-Nice Prempelli.

What do you think about the rise of the digital model?

Images: shudu.gram, opalslutuniverse, Fenty beauty

Text: Afua Aidoo

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