In today’s world of Instagram and Photoshop, it’s no surprise to learn that the majority of our most-loved images have been altered in one way or another. Whether it’s to make legs appear longer or teeth whiter, most images on social media are subject to some type of filtering, but how would you feel about a digitally-fabricated human being?
Meet Shudu. This supermodel is taking over social media and gaining followers from around the world — but there’s a catch: She isn’t real.
Shudu Gram has gone viral for her beauty – and the fact she’s entirely a figment of one photographer’s imagination. Cameron-James Wilson is a British photographer, famous for snapping photos of Gigi Hadid and Devon Windsor. His ten-year photography career is getting more attention after creating the “world’s first digital supermodel.” With more than 58,000 followers and only 19 posts, the digitally-created woman is reaching celebrity status.
Boasting an athletic hour-glass figure, long legs and striking eyes, Shudu was inspired by Wilson’s favourite models growing up.
“I just created the most beautiful woman I could,” he told People.com. “She was heavily influenced by models that I really admired growing up. I’ve always adored Alek Wek, Grace Jones – these powerful, beautiful women who kind of represented beauty that hasn’t really been at the forefront for a long time. So when I had the opportunity to create her, it was the perfect situation to create somebody who inspires me and would continue to inspire me for a long time.”
The 28-year-old photographer admits the supermodel was part of a project to teach himself how to create from 3D and CG. He kept Shudu’s identity secret until he had perfected his art.
“CG and 3D artists aim for absolute realism,” he said. “In order to make sure I was hitting that mark it was important that I was able to make her convincing as possible. If she was convincing people, I was on the right track. To perpetuate that she was real was part of my learning process.”
While the concept is one of the future, online critics are condemning the digital beauty due to the photographer’s inability to feature real women of colour.
“So Shudu was created by a white man to profit off of black women without actually having to pay them???” One person questioned on Twitter. “Technology came a long way, however (there are) plenty of dark-skinned models who look like her but they get overlooked. Book them instead of cloning them.”
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
Black models, specifically dark skin Black models are not a trend though. We should be the norm. Ok. Even though Shudu is a beautiful digital creation, I hope that he can shoot with real dark skin Black models and pay them accordingly too. https://t.co/2FGTZ2IoEm
— ecca (@MJFinesseLover) February 27, 2018
As much as I appreciate art I detest the fact that the minute dark skin is finally glamourized by the mainstream media a white man finds a way to commericalize & capitalize off it. Black skin is not a trend. Black skin is not a toy. Black women even more not so. #Shudu #FreeShudu pic.twitter.com/pu79IGcU1s
— Sonia Pratt (@adrianette_) February 28, 2018
Others have taken to Twitter to ask why dark-skinned models and digital art can’t exist in the same space.
I get y’all are mad at the guy who created Shudu and want actual dark skinned models but I also want to see more black models in the 3D art category.
So is it impossible to have both?????
— NoMustyDemonShallProsper (@BABYGW0RL808) February 28, 2018
What’s wrong with sharing his art art? He’s clearly in 3d media.. He’s literally like any other guy who draws/animates people for fun?
& who said he was profiting of off Shudu? This is just a project. I swear twitter always wanna make issues that aren’t there https://t.co/oV1ZnUerBv
— Denise Anne (@denisetaquito) February 28, 2018
I'm not so much offended by the fact that he created a virtual dark-skinned model because I'm assuming he works with 3D graphics. However, Shudu?? Where is that name coming from and why?? https://t.co/9Xg4b3SxDy
— JAYLION (@yojaylion) February 27, 2018
Wilson told Isiuwa Igodan his creation embodies the beauty of an entire continent –in a move to redefine what is considered beautiful in commercial fashion.
“Shudu represents what I’ve always seen as beautiful, but something I don’t see often enough. Although there’s a slight change happening now, more people need to question, what really is beautiful,” he said. “I get many comments saying that her beauty is ‘rare’ but she represents and is inspired by a whole continent of beautiful women.”
“To me she’s special, yes, but as are millions of real-life African men and women.”