Influencers you missed
With her unique style, own clothing line, freckles, and innocent face, the 20-year-old Miquela Sousa, better known as ‘Lil Miquela’, leads a perfect life in Los Angeles. On her social media account, she now has more than 1 million followers, she stands up for transgender rights and makes it clear that she is a feminist. She is a model and has previously worked with brands such as Chanel and Prada. For example, during the Prada FW18 show she took over Prada’s instagram. Besides her modeling work, she is a singer. Her single ‘Not Mine’ (August 2017) was standing in the top 10 ‘viral’ on Spotify for a long time. She now inspires more than 1 million people around the world with her account. Miquela is an absolute rising star in the fashion world.
Shudu is absolutely a model to keep an eye on with her beautiful skin, beautiful figure and intriguing eyes. She is gaining popularity with already hundred thousand followers watching her closely through her Instagram. Shudu came into the limelight after Fenty, Rihanna’s beauty line. The brand posted a picture of her on which she wore a Fenty lipstick.
left: Shudu right: Lil Miquela
In addition to their successful young existence, the two women still have something in common. Miquela and Shudu do not exist! The Spanish-Brazilian American digital art character Miquela created in 2016 and since then she has become a ‘real’ fashion influencer through her instagram account. Shudu is an animation created by photographer Cameron-James Wilson. The 28-year-old James worked 10 years in the fashion industry where he learned how to create 3D images. When he saw the opportunity, he decided to make the perfect model as an art project. James, however, received a lot of criticism referring his project. People reacted with outrage on the fact that a white photographer felt the need to copy a black model instead of actually working with dark models. Wilson states that he does not use Shudu as a commercial model and that it is not meant to substitute real models. He wants to show that Shudu is a model now which represents many dark models in an online world that is not always real.
‘We live in such a filtered world that everything that is real becomes fake’. ‘Our society is as fake as it can be’.
Now that you know that both women do not exist, you may immediately see that Miquela and Shudu are digitally created avatars. Yet this was unclear for a long time. They might look perfect, but lived the life of a ‘normal Instagrammer’. Unconsciously we all know that not everything we see on social media like Instagram is real. Nevertheless, we continue to follow the influencers who lead that perfect life. These influencers work together with the largest brands and have become almost indispensable for large brands. Instagram accounts with a large reach are used every day to promote brand products. However, there are just real people behind these Instagram accounts. These are people with their own will and vision and will also grow old. In short, they will get older or change interests and might become less valuable. The rise of digital avatar influencers creates great potential for brands. By using digitally created avatars, brands can completely control the models account themselves determining the ways the product will be promoted and the way it is communicating to the followers. The digital avatars will show exactly what the brands want and will never get older or change interests unless the brands wants the avatars to change.
The technical development in the field of 3D animations and AR (Augmented Reality) will continue to develop. The possibilities to create a perfectly realistic avatar will also automatically increase. Social media plays a big role in our lives, it is interesting to keep an eye on these developments. Will we all have our own perfect online version of ourselves or will we later try to imitate the lifestyle of a fictional person? Time will tell …