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CGI Instagram Models

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

We all like to think social media can’t affect us, and in a perfect world it shouldn’t! But we’re only human, and sometimes when you’re scrolling through your feed you can’t help but feel self conscious. Instagram has become a money making platform where people make themselves pretty through apps and rack up $65k per post (looking at you Bella Thorne). And if competing with Facetune and Photoshop weren’t enough, there are now accounts of CGI “Instagram models” that have accrued thousands of followers and make actual money from real sponsors.

CGI stands for Computer Generated Imagery and has been used in media and entertainment since the late 70’s. Our favorite Sci-Fi and thriller movies use CGI to bring our fantasies to life, but now it’s being used to create AI-powered Instagram influencers. Accounts like Lil Miquela and Shudu Gram have tens of thousands of followers and are frequently reposted by big brands like Fenty beauty and Pat McGrath. These artificially created accounts are the work of photographers and artists who sometimes wish to remain anonymous, letting their digital creations speak for themselves.

Apart from confusing Instagram scrollers and potentially taking away jobs from human models, these accounts use their influence as a source of fashion inspiration and aesthetic appeasement, but also to spread social activism. Lil Miquela uses her following of over a million to openly support Black Lives Matter and immigrant youth, a left-leaning political strategy that led to her account being hacked by a different Trump supporting CGI Instagram account last week (apparently even computers can have beef).

Ultimately, these accounts are pretty controversial. While their creators claim they are simply a reflection of what society deems popular and beautiful, they are also totally fake accounts that take attention away from hard-working human models. Advocates of CGI accounts say they give a voice and representation to women of color, but the representation they offer is a reflection of westernized standards of beauty that few women meet, let alone marginalized women of color.

At the end of the day, these accounts aren’t much worse than human Instagrammers that use digital alteration to make themselves impossibly perfect. As humans, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others, and in a world full of modified beauty, it’s nearly impossible to live up to those standards. But instead of asking yourself why your skin isn’t as porcelain perfect as Lil Miquela’s, be thankful you’re alive in the world and not stuck in a computer doomed to post for the rest of eternity.




Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor