It’s hard enough keeping up with the Kardashians, and now it seems that those looking to stay on top of the latest beauty trends are expected to compete with (or at least keep an eye on) computer generated beauty influencers, as well. This is either a fantastical evolution of the beauty industry, or a frustrating inflation of beauty ideals. Either way, meet Shudu Gram, a totally made up beauty influencer with 36.6 thousand totally real Instagram followers.
Some of her (its?) Instagram images are shockingly realistic. Honestly, can you tell if this is photography or CGI? (Spoiler alert: it’s CGI.) Beauty brand Fenty couldn’t tell the difference, however, or they simply didn’t care, because they reposted the shot to their Instagram last week, crediting the “model” herself.
Here’s another one from @shudu.gram’s feed. You tell us, is this a real human face or computer trickery?
Thankfully, the air of mystery has been cleared as an editor at Harper’s Bazaar tracked down the creator of the CGI beauty, photographer Cameron-James Wilson, though he was allegedly initially reluctant to reveal the lack of humanity at the heart of his project.
“Basically Shudu is my creation,” Wilson told Bazaar. “She’s my art piece that I am working on at the moment…She is not a real model unfortunately, but she represents a lot of the real models of today. There’s a big kind of movement with dark skin models, so she represents them and is inspired by them.”
Wilson uses a 3D modeling program to generate the images, drawing off the likes of a specific Barbie doll, Princess of South Africa, and model Duckie Thot for inspiration. You can definitely see the resemblance in both:
What’s shocking here shouldn’t be that we can be fooled these days — Hollywood has taught us that basically anything is visually possible with CGI — rather that our idea of beauty has become so perfect, so airbrushed and flawless that we literally can’t discern between an actual human face and a computer generated visage. Creepy, right?
Another CGI Instagrammer who is driving commenters to speculate on her humanity is @lilmiquela, who–with four songs on Spotify, real modeling gigs with real brands, and over half a million followers and hundreds of posts–has generated a shroud of mystery around her origins. Nobody truly knows who she is (or what she is), or where she’s from (or who made her), only that her looks are super fresh and her freckles totes adorbs.
Is this #MakeupSkillsGoals or #PhotoshopSkillsGoals? We honestly don’t know anymore…