The Centipede

CGI Models Take On Instagram

Rylie Robinson ‘21

     Instagram has grown to become more than just a place for friends to share pictures with each other. Certain individuals on the site have aggregated hundreds of thousands of followers by posting pictures of their luxurious lifestyles. Known as “Instagram models” and “influencers,” these individuals substantially affect the attitudes and beliefs of their followers, especially when it comes to fashion, body image, and popularity. Supported by the body positivity movement and increased representation in media, these Instagram models include individuals of all different races, genders, and sizes.

     A recent trend on Instagram, however, threatens to undo the hard work of those who have advocated for inclusivity in beauty standards in the media. Accounts that feature Computer Generated Imagery models, models that are not real people, have become more common. Some popular accounts include @bermudaisbae, which has 104,000 followers, and @lilmiquela, which has 1.4 million followers. These models are highly edited to look impossibly flawless: their skin is clear and smooth, their cheeks are perfectly angled, and their hair is never out of place. In addition, most tend to be skinny. These “fake” models receive brand deals, which are arrangements between the influencer and a brand, which the influencer will support.

     Instagram influencers and beauty industry giants alike have voiced their concerns about the rise of CGI models. Because the models are so perfect, people fear that they could severely affect the self-esteem of human models and consumers. People already compare themselves to real celebrities and models who post on Instagram, trying to achieve their level of seeming perfection. It would be even harder to live up to a CGI model, as they can be truly “flawless”.

     In an interview with BBC News, Louise Stone (@lulustone_), an Instagram model from London said, “To have to compete with literally unreal girls is just really scary – you can shape anything you want and have the exact perfect look without the casting process.”

     The modeling industry is an extremely hard place to find work to begin with. The CGI models could be taking job opportunities away from real people. This is especially a concern for models of color, of whom there are significantly fewer in the modeling industry than white models. The account @shudu.gram features a South African CGI model named Shudu, and people argue that she is taking the place of a real model of color who could have her job. However, Cameron James-Wilson, the creator of Shudu, doesn’t think that CGI models are a problem.

     According to BBC news, he said, “I see digital models as something that is very situational and works well for certain situations and not for others … Both [CGI and human models] can work well together.”

     The arrival of CGI models in the modeling industry is causing a lot of controversy, and it will be up to brands and advertisers to decide whether they will promote CGI models or support real people.

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CGI Models Take On Instagram