Shudu, a Black, Digitally Created Model
The internet has been buzzing recently about a black digital model named Shudu that was created by Cameron-James Wilson, a white photographer from England. Shudu has gained a huge following on Instagram, as has Nfon, a male black model Wilson also created using 3D imaging. In Wilson’s own words, “I was learning how to create 3D imagery for graphic novels and animations and I had the opportunity to create a model however I wanted, so I created the most beautiful woman I could.”
Wilson states that his inspiration for Shudu comes from model Duckie Thot as well as Lupita Nyong’O. She is absolutely breathtaking, and can easily be mistaken for real. Fenty Beauty actually reposted one of her pictures when Wilson tagged a shade of their lipstick. However, her creation has elicited controversy.
On one hand of the discussion, people see a serious issue with the idea that a white male found a way to commercialize dark skin and use skin color as a way to advance his career and garner attention. This portrays dark skin as a trend rather than a primary identity for millions of women and men. Furthermore, that people of color are only seen for their skin color, and not for any substantive quality. That they are only acknowledged for their race, not for their religion, educational achievements, personality traits, beliefs and more. In addition, during an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Wilson made certain comments that proved to be problematic, “there’s a big kind of movement with dark skin models” and “Basically Shudu is my creation, she’s my art piece that I am working on at the moment.” The manner in which Wilson described Shudu as “his creation” and being dark skinned as a “movement” offended many. Several people took to twitter to voice their opinions while highlighting some interesting points of view.
Lol even when black women decolonize standards of beauty and embrace blackness, generate an entire cultural movement behind it, and provide and inspiration to millions of young black girls, look who capitalizes.— Action Hank (@Solin_2022) February 28, 2018
Life is funny 🤧.
I can't even put into words how wrong this is. Why is it so hard to just pay black women— 🥀 (@hoodfIowers) February 27, 2018
Wilson commented on the backlash he received in an interview with Metro UK stressing that the criticism he is facing only comes from misunderstanding. “I’m not trying to replace models and if anything it’s a criticism in how fake society has become that a CGI Model can pass for real”, Wilson explains. He also adds that he never intended for Shudu to be public and that one of her pictures was posted without his permission. After receiving such uplifting comments, his work developed a greater sense of importance and meaning to him so he continued to share his art with the public. The name Wilson chose for the model is not a traditional English name and might leave one wondering whether her name is of particular significance too.
That’s like saying we shouldn’t make animated movies because it’s taking work away from real actors. I think it’s dope that this guy decided to make the model black and he did a damn good job. Do y’all want equal representation or nah? like which one is it— juju☽ (@looveparanoia) February 28, 2018
Wilson managed to generate a lot of conversation around his digitally created model and each end of the arguments emphasize some eye opening, understandable and serious issues with the way we perceive models and the role race plays in the beauty industry. As Jerzy Kosinski once said, “The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke,” and whether that was Wilson’s intention or not, he most definitely evoked meaningful and possibly mind-shifting conversation.
Let us know what you think in the comments!