It’s 2018, and fashion and technology are integrating in more interesting and surreal ways like never before, I mean Dolce & Gabbana just recently sent drones down the runway to model their handbags, so you would think the emergence of an entirely digital model such as Shudu won’t come as a shock to some right? Wrong.
Shudu is the digital creation of artist and photographer Cameron James Wilson, crafted and posed using 3D imaging. Inspired by African Barbie dolls and models like Dukie Thot, she has generated a fair amount of controversy hinging around the fact that she looks 100% human but however isn’t.
Shudu has gained enormous attention on social media platforms, including Instagram and this skyrocketed after Rihanna’s cosmetics company, Fenty Beauty, shared a photo of Shudu on their Instagram account that shows her wearing a shade of the makeup line’s lipstick.
Although some see the digital model as an uplifting and positive art piece, who reflects a true beauty ideal untainted by westernised standards, others are disappointed that Cameron-James, a white photographer, has digitally created a dark-skinned model instead of giving a platform for real-life black women.
One tweeter said “A white photographer figured out a way to profit off of black women without ever having to pay one. Now please, tell me how our economic system is in no way built on and quite frankly reliant on racism and misogyny”.
Some people even feel as though she represents the fetishized view many have of very dark ebony skin. Where do you stand, is Shudu a step in the direction for diversity, bombarding the digital space with images of real African beauty? Or is she a step backwards, a way for people to profit off the beauty and greatness of Africans without having to deal with one?