Shudu took the internet by storm. After being featured on the Fenty Beauty Instagram page, the model became a phenomenon. Her looks quickly gained her a following of 60k fans, who were dazed by her breathtaking dark skin. Turns out, the surreal beauty is just that- surreal. Shudu is, in fact, the 3D creation of artist Cameron James Wilson. Here is what you need to know about the “ World’s First Digital Supermodel”
Before the stunt of the “World’s First Digital Supermodel” was revealed, Shudu’s bio simply read “who is she.” And for the longest, London photographer Cameron James Wilson let the world wonder.
The breakthrough of her Fenty beauty feature increased the interest around her persona. The more people cared, the harder it was to keep the mystery. She was a dark skin beauty, a tremendous model, and a web attraction. She was the statuesque Shudu, but the world needed more. And the more was a lot greater than anyone expected.
Creator Cameron James later revealed in Harper’s Bazaar: “Shudu is my creation, she’s my art piece that I am working on”. While his initial motive was art driven, Wilson acknowledges that “Just the same as in many industries, the 3D world is sorely lacking ethnic diversity and black characters and assets are particularly rare.”
That awareness of the bias towards dark skin women is the same reason why Shudu is controversial. The issue isn’t so much that the artist is white and that the model is black. The issue is that the creator is aware of his privilege. Yet, he chose to use his talent to further fetishize the black body.
“She is not a real model, but she represents a lot of the real models of today. There’s a big kind of movement with dark skin models, so she inspires them and is inspired by them. Obviously some models like Duckie [Thot]” Yes, representation matters! But how effective is it when it enforces the belief it aims to eradicate?
The models that inspired Shudu are still a minority in the industry. And that’s where Wilson’s approach is questionable. Dark skin is not ” a big kind of movement. ” To label it a trend is to ostracize it for its identity. In his design to celebrate black beauty and showcase diversity, the artist ( subconsciously or not) robs that exact blackness of its uniqueness.
Shudu is a revolutionary digital creation. The artist Cameron James Wilson showcased the existing beauty of black women through her. The realism of her character should encourage creators to push diversity in the 3D world. It is not a pretext to fetishize black women or view dark skin as a trend. Shudu is nonetheless breathtaking. But let’s appreciate her for what she is: art.
The digital industry can embrace blackness in a more ethical manner. Shudu is a beautiful black 3D character. She is not an alternative dark skin supermodel. She can’t be when dark skin women still struggle to model.