CGI (am not sure about these) Models

Yes, CGI models are a thing. And yes, I’m slightly confused. While browsing Instagram I came across the account of @lilmiquela, an Instagram influencer and model since 2016. However, she is not what you first think: she is a robot. She promotes clothing brands, having done campaigns with labels such as Prada, has scored an editorial in Vogue magazine and supports activist movements like Black Lives Matter. It does state in her Instagram bio that she is a robot, but in her story highlights ‘Forever 19’ she keeps a diary describing her feelings at coming out as CGI, the backlash from it and the sadness she feels at human’s reactions to her. While I sympathise with her sadness I do also question, is it real?

As well as Miquela, CGI models seem to be up and coming in the fashion industry with Balmain deploying a new ‘virtual army’ of models, Balenciaga releasing a rather disturbing promotional video where we see CGI models being bent and twisted into distorted shapes (which shows off the clothes really well as you can imagine) and models such as @shudu.gram proclaiming to be the ‘The World’s First Digital Supermodel’. Shudu has garnered support and encouragement from top models such as Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell and singer Alicia Keys. She was created by Cameron-James Wilson and is said to represent the need for the fashion industry to catch up with developing technologies and address ‘the ongoing tension between appearance and reality in the media’

Shudu is represented by The Diigitals who according to their website are ‘the world’s first all digital modelling agency’ and believe that burgeoning technological advancements mean that Shudu and her successors will be the future faces of fashion. On their website they quote The Washington Post: ‘Soon, the most beautiful people in the world may no longer be human’. Now that’s a scary thought, or is it?

Shudu’s creator, Wilson, modelled her on the Princess of South Africa Barbie, an existing ideal of beauty presented to our children who is most certainly not human. When it comes to social media it can be difficult to know what is real and what is fake and these CGI models are embodying this existing anxiety that the public share: that the human is becoming increasingly inadequate. We don’t know whether Kim Kardashian has photoshopped one of her selfies or whether someone has been cropped out of a photo, as if they were never there. Heck, isn’t the whole point of social media that you can construct an image of you and your life that is a kind of “perfect” and flawless version, editable just like Shudu’s flawlessly programmed skin or Miquela’s killer outfit each day. Are the beauty standards posed by these CGI models any worse than our already existing ones?

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