She's stunningly beautiful, has more than 40k Instagram followers (and counting), and recently received the tacit approval of Fenty Beauty, but Shudu isn't your average Insta-famous model. In fact, she's completely fake.
Created by London-based photographer and digital artist Cameron-James Wilson along with her male counterpart Nfon, Shudu is a product of 3D imaging and Wilson's imagination. With her flawless skin, long limbs and artfully curated Instagram account, she had already been making waves online for many months when Fenty Beauty reposted a photo of her 'modelling' its Saw-C lipstick, causing her profile to skyrocket.
Soon enough, people began to question whether she was just a little too perfect and Wilson was forced to reveal the truth. He admitted she was a figment of his imagination and updated Shudu's Instagram bio to clarify that she wasn't human – it now reads "World’s First Digital Supermodel". Speaking to Harper's Bazaar, Wilson said Shudu was simply "a way for him to express his creativity".
"Basically Shudu is my creation, she’s my art piece that I am working on at the moment," Wilson explained. "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."
"Obviously some models like Duckie [Thot] were definitely big inspirations for her as well," Wilson continued.
But many believe Shudu represents a lot more than one man's digital art project and the news of her non-existence has triggered an online backlash. People are uneasy about the fact that she, a black woman, was created by a white man and 'hired' instead of a real-life black model, a demographic that remains underrepresented in the fashion and beauty industries despite improvements in recent years.
Responding to the furore, Wilson said "there had been a lot of misinformation and panic being spread about a standard industry tool" that is often used is films, animation and graphic novels.
He told Refinery29 that no one has profited financially from Shudu's creation, rather, she has cost him over £2000 and hundreds of hours to produce. "Her creation was a part of the learning process when I was developing my 3D modelling skills and the only intention was to create an image of the most beautiful woman I could."
Going forward, he will "continue to use Shudu the same way [he has] before, creating inspiring fashion visuals and promoting the talents of other artists and models," telling us to "keep a look out for what’s coming next".
Refinery29 has reached out to Fenty Beauty for comment.
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