In the age of social media, increasing technological advances, and growing calls for diversity, Shudu is the perfect model. Unfortunately she isn’t real.
Shudu is the digital creation of photography Cameron James Wilson. According to Affinity Magazine, who first brought Shudu to the attention of a larger audience on Twitter, Wilson created Shudu “after he noticed there was a “big movement with dark skin.” Wilson has even created a black digital male model, Nfon.
Wilson’s creations have sparked outrage and debate. While black models, especially those with darker skin tones, are seeing more opportunities in the fashion world, the industry still has a long way to go in terms of equality. Many feel that digital models are robbing real models of opportunities that already few and far in between.
– T'is the wildest shit I've ever come across. A White photographer digitally engineered a dark-skinned model and has been profiting off of this uncannily offensive innovation as he noticed a demand for/increased visibility of dark-skinned models. Massah is on the internet bbz. https://t.co/MfVm0JZOUZ
— Nywe Nywe Nywe (@SuburbanZulu) February 27, 2018
“[W]ho’s getting hired? I don’t understand? It’s basically a painting, an illustration. Are you implying no one should draw or paint black women? And that paintings of black women aren’t beautiful? ,” Wilson wrote in reply to a critical commenter on Instagram.
Based on his other replies, Wilson likely won’t be ending Shudu’s career anytime soon. Shudu has even garnered praise from from Fenty Beauty and Harper’s Bazaar. Wilson maintains that his creation is helping black representation rather than hurting it.