Instagram Model Revealed to be Computer-Generated

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. cause a stir / kɔz ə stɜr / (idiom) – to cause a controversy

    The journalist caused a stir on social media when she wrote a post about the celebrity’s scandal.

  2. striking / ˈstraɪ kɪŋ / (adj) – very attractive

    My friend has a lot of admirers because of her striking looks.

  3. authenticity / ˌɔ θɛnˈtɪs ɪ ti, ˌɔ θən- / (n) – the quality of being real

    I am doubting the authenticity of the woman in the photo because she looks too perfect.

  4. make a fortune / meyk ə ˈfɔr tʃən / (idiom) – to earn a lot of money

    He made a fortune from selling limited edition toys.

  5. mistake for / mɪˈsteɪk fɔr / (idiom) – to think that someone/something is someone/something else

    I always mistake John for his brother; they look very similar.


Read the text below.

Instagram model Shudu has caused a stir on the Internet after netizens found out that she is computer-generated.

Shudu has over a hundred thousand followers on Instagram since her debut in April 2017. She gained popularity after she was photographed wearing makeup from Fenty Beauty, the makeup line of international singer Rihanna.

Tall and dark-skinned, Shudu is recognized for her striking features and body proportions. However, people started to question her authenticity because of her unrealistic good looks. This was when celebrity photographer, digital artist, and Shudu’s creator Cameron-James Wilson revealed that the model is not a real person. Shudu is actually a product of computer-generated imagery (CGI), a technique that incorporates 3D computer graphics to create special effects.

Wilson created Shudu when he was trying to learn how to do CGI animations. He stated that he aims to empower women of color through Shudu, who was based on a Barbie doll edition called “Princess of South Africa.”

A number of Shudu’s followers did not take Wilson’s revelation well. One fan even accused Wilson of making a fortune from women of color. In response, Wilson asserted that he considers Shudu an artistic expression instead of a business.

Shudu is not the first CGI model that was mistaken for a real person. Lil Miquela [MIKH-we-luh] is also a famous model on Instagram and has over a million followers. Like Shudu, some people thought that the model is real. But in April 2017, it was revealed that Lil Miquela is, in fact, computer-generated and was created by an organization from Silicon Valley.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How would you react if you discover that someone you know on the Internet is not a real person?
• Why do you think artists create CGI models?

Discussion B

• How else do you think CGI can be helpful (e.g. enhancing movies, creating home designs)?
• Would you be interested to learn how to do CGI? Why or why not?