Are you sitting down? Because if you’re not, you should be. Why? We recently discovered that one of our muses Lil Miquela isn’t real. The Spanish-Brazilian “model” and “music artist” is virtual, or in other words computer-generated. Mind. Blown. How, then, does one explain her million plus Instagram followers and feed full of photos in which she appears to be leading a normal major influencer life rocking various looks, magazine cover features, and collaborations with brands? You don’t, is how.
Take one look at the photo below and get back to us—real or virtual? Really real looking. Miquela’s signature hairstyle–Princess Leyla-esque space buns–are adorned by a set of fringe so impeccably designed you’d never think twice about its realness, or her realness. When her hair isn’t tied up in relaxed buns, she lets down her stick-straight cut of the season, a blunt lob. To add to your confusion, Miquela is also a musician whose songs you can purchase on iTunes. Mind. Blown. Again. Okay, okay, maybe a virtual influencer “creating” music isn’t so crazy. What is? The fact that Pat McGrath just named her a McGrath Muse.
Exactly what is a virtual influencer? A computer-generated masterpiece. The idea itself is straightforward but the notion behind a socially manufactured influencer who presents herself to the world as “real”–not so much. Or is it? From the beginning of time Tinsel Town has produced countless films featuring animated figures. In today’s social media era, a virtual influencer on Instagram is no different than an animated star in a feature film. Except for the fact that virtual influencers, like Miquela, communicate with the physical-digital world of Instagram and the humans living in it, pose in the latest designer pieces, and go grocery shopping at Erewhon. Captions like, “100% repeated this outfit. This Proenza drip needs several moments” and “When Internet friends finally meet and become real life friends Congratulations on your new book @bat_gio ❤ ” persuade some of Miquela’s followers to believe she’s real while confusing others to the point of frustration and profanity. Comments like, “i have SO many questions” and “WTF are you?” or “lol she’s a human trying to look like a robot” are common inquiries. A month ago, Miquela set her followers straight in a post that reads, “Ok now here’s the hard part. My hands are literally shaking. I’m not a human being.” Thoughts?
Who is managing Miquela’s Instagram account? Photoshopping her into group photos? Inserting her into magazine spreads? Turns out, a company called Brud, which copped big bucks from Silicon Valley to conceive Miquela (click here to learn more about how she was “born”). In the meantime, we’ll be admiring her fringe from afar but not getting attached because, after all, she’s faux.