Why A Computer-Generated Dark Skin Model Is Better Than The Real Thing
Only if you’re a clueless Frankenstein defacing the definition of “diversity”
It was only a matter of time before the dignity of the word diversity would undergo a distorted form of abuse that can only be unleashed by creatives — who never have to deal with the buzzkill of being systematically under-represented in areas where they should be soaring.
In the fashion world — much like beauty — the White aesthetic has been lauded and given the global passport of dominance over any variations that are actually more authentic and gorgeously primal. But — unfortunately we’ve been treated to the consequences of White supremacy in all its raging forms — and the results have birthed the tragedy of dysfunctional programming.
There’s a lot to fret about when you consider how Black men have been conditioned to hate Black women to the point of public crucifixion. We heard the illustrious Quincy Jones readily admit that his unyielding affinity towards White women has a ton to do with being validated for his ability to repeatedly attract the biggest prize of them all. His glorious ascension into society’s highest realm is connected to the never-ending beef between Black men and White men — and how the untouchable treasure is suddenly attainable when the seeker qualifies for such a privilege.
The basis of colorism and how it has fucked up Black people almost beyond repair is worthy of a book of many pages — but for now the crux of why White women or non-Black women are deemed more desirable is what will fuel this conversation.
As mentioned before — beauty and fashion brands have made it a religion to mostly court “beauties” that are viable enough to keep them in business. Back in the 90s to mid 00s — the only Black supermodel sashaying up and down runways all over the world was Naomi Campbell. It’s now 2018 — and Campbell is still the only notable Black model who has enjoyed a steady and rewarding trajectory.
Of course there have been other models of color who were visible decades ago — but none of them come close to what Campbell has manifested and the ones that did come close — sported ambiguous templates — which continues to be the preferred alternative to the standard default.
I do envy the Black girls today — who are receiving some compensation for the bullshit my generation had to tolerate — as we were left out in the cold in pretty much every form of media. Music videos featuring the hot R&B bands of that era — populated their storylines with the same factory-made look of green eyes — pouty lips, sharp nose bridges and hair that bounces to the high tempo. Women magazines that catered to mostly White women or Black women — worked hard as fuck to avoid the blemish of displaying models that were dark enough to rival the night. If Black women darker skin ever got the time of day — it had to be attributed to their grade of hair and how that automatically bumps their worthiness.
Despite the re-christening of the word “diversity” — there’s still the selfish goal of catching up on all that time wasted on the damning practice of pretending that anything too ethnic can’t be celebrated — in accordance with authenticity and unbiased respect.
But despite the hectic activity from globally-renowned brands — there’s a transparent falsehood that hovers around the doors that are assumingely opening for Black models — who can’t even benefit from the element of discovery — since the power of celebrity has overtaken the art form of model scouting. So now it’s up to Black celebrities or superstars who are mostly biracial or close to it — to fill the void of missing Black models that can’t replace Lupita Nyong’o.
Former British Vogue editor — Alexandra Shulman may have taken many hits for not maximizing her position in ways that could’ve been progressive — by peppering her staff and magazine covers with diversity — but her response to the criticism — exposes the glaring truth of why she was unable to be creatively exploratory:
“I was judged by my sales. That was my remit. My chief remit was not to show ethnic diversity as a policy.” (If she put a black face on the cover who was not instantly recognisable,) “You would sell fewer copies. It’s as simple as that.”
And there you have it. Shulman was stuck recycling the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Thandie Newton and Jourdan Dunn. And as you may have noticed — none of those women are necessarily a risk because of their star power and the comfort of their non-threatening dispositions.
The reason why diversity has become the word that carries no weight is due to the way it has been implemented as a trend — that forces those in power to finally yield to something that they stupidly and criminally refused to embody — when the stakes weren’t all that high.
Suddenly HBO is completely open to the idea of TV shows that tell the stories of Black women as if that would’ve been the case in 2002 — when I was ready to present my TV pilot for consideration. There’s an overt desperation emanating from media giants that generates the unwillingness to give in to this climate of acceptability — just for the pleasure of instituting your own avenues — through personalized platforms as a major “fuck you.”
But — until we can graze the box office with numbers that are directed to our accounts as opposed to the pockets of White studio execs who hit the big time — thanks to the trendiness of diversity — we still have to take what we can get and make the most of it.
However — what we can’t ever accept as currency is the audacity of a White visual artist — tinkering with his tools in an experimental quest to produce a product that is supposed to fulfill the ongoing demand for what is already in abundant supply.
The age of Instagram has given us permission to create a world that either used to exist and is being revived with the magic of tricks that can give dead celebrities a new lease on life — or we can just basically start from scratch to summon stunning backdrops that resemble marketplaces in Marrakech — even though in real life we’re surrounded by a more dour reality.
How about “a 3D modeling program” that gives photographers like Cameron-James Wilson the ability to use his time away from the camera as the incentive to build a dark-skinned beauty named Shudu — who is so damn hot that her Instagram following is currently at almost 40K. Her soaring popularity also garnered her attention from Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty when she rocked very fetchingly vivid tone of lipstick from the cosmetic line.
Wilson was lazily inspired by a real life model — Duckie Thot who is South Sudanese-Australian — and has basically taken the industry by storm due to her compellingly “Barbie doll” characteristics — which has given her entry into major ad campaigns including the 2018 Pirelli Calendar.
The London-based photographer is defending his faux-dark-skinned model by relying on the generic bullshit of artistic freedom — coupled with the reprehensible ally of jumping on the bandwagon of “a movement” that thankfully doesn’t require actual human beings to authenticate it’s success:
“There’s a big kind of movement with dark skin models, so she represents them and is inspired by them.”
I highly doubt Shudu is inspired by anything. In fact if she could express herself — she would curse the hell out of the Frankenstein who thought it was okay to prop her up as an homage to “a movement” that he’s grossly misinterpreting as “art.”
What he’s actually doing is demeaning the value of dark-skinned Black women who are trying hard as fuck to break into a market that will only budge for the offspring of celebrities — who are usually not model-like or a handful of prototypes that will be given enough work to keep the act of diversity from flailing.
Based on his now viral interview with Harper’s Bazaar in early February — the reception to Wilson’s whack ass project has elicited “only a handful of people” who find his work offensive “while most understand his intention” — but I’m willing to guess that the editors at Harper’s Bazaar gravitated towards the people that share their tainted response to this absolute disaster.
What Wilson has done and is doing is indicative of how far White privilege can travel without the threat of accountability.
White people have no clue what it means to be truly inclusive and so they do what they do best — which is to carve out ways to eat their cake and have it to. They can pose as filmmakers who have suddenly developed a conscience and a hunger to document the longstanding issue of racial strife. So they make films that showcase exactly that — under the guise of “art.” They can be fashion designers who are inspired by the Diaspora to such a degree that they need to flood their runways with the “art” that they poached with the intent of utilizing African models to offset their thievery.
They can be photographers who capture mainly White models — but when the thirst for unbelievably beautiful Black models with jet-black skin and ethnic features hits — they freely quench their desires with computer-generated versions of the real thing — and plaster them on Instagram with the intent to fool gawkers — long enough to fully satisfy such vile cravings.
It’s appalling that Wilson believes that the only viable way a Black model can be considered “beautiful” enough to compete in an unforgivingly competitive arena — is to make create illusions that are almost impossible to replicate in real life — thus proving the old adage of how Black people have to pretty much surpass the highest of expectations in order to be given the keys to the kingdom.
Meanwhile White models like Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin definitely don’t look like a million bucks — but they were born to millionaires and that’s all the ammunition they need.
Wilson’s horror show is even more daunting when you hear his warped summation:
“We live in such a filtered world now, where real is becoming fake. I wanted to create something that is fantasy toward becoming more real, and bringing it completely the other way.”
If this is what contributing to “the big movement of dark skin models” looks like from the White perspective — then perhaps this is the evidence we need to kill “the movement” and go back to the good old days — when “real was real” and dark skin models were out of work and didn’t have the unfortunate luck of competing with CGI models like Shudu.
Either way — the damage has been done and once again the word “diversity” survives another bloody massacre for the pleasure of many more in the future.
And that’s as real it gets.