Instagram fashionista Miquela Sousa casts no shadow

Miquela Sousa has more than 1 million Instagram followers. (Instagram: @lilmiquela)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Instagram fashionista Miquela Sousa casts no shadow

  • Lil Miquela posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA.
  • She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.

LONDON: Miquela Sousa is a success story for the modern age. She is a 19-year-old fashion-world influencer from LA with over 1 million followers.

She posts selfies on Instagram “wearing” labels like Diesel, Stussy and Prada and “hanging out” with various musicians and fashion industry figures at restaurants in New York City and LA, and has released a handful of popular singles.

However, she doesn’t cast a shadow in any of her photos, because to have a shadow, you have to exist. And Miquela doesn’t exist.

Lil Miquela, as she is known, is a computer-generated image, the work of an LA-based artificial intelligence firm called Brud.

She’s been in “photoshoots” in magazines like Interview and Highsnobiety, but it’s not clear how those images are created.

She has given interviews — via email — before, though her PR people, a New York City advertising firm, declined to make her, or Brud, available to the media to explain exactly what is going on here.

Is it an attempt to manufacture an influencer, someone with a lot of social media followers who can spruik brands’ products? Is it a branding exercise for an AI firm?

To Ryan Shelley, a social media expert from the firm Pepper IT, the fact that interest has piqued recently around Miquela’s existence suggests the power of this particular piece of storytelling.

“Some people tune in and watch the Kardashians on TV,” he said. “People are tuning into Instagram and they are watching the self-realization of a robot.”

Instagram trades on the idea of authenticity — you follow someone because you want that behind-the-scenes insight into their life, but the arrival of Lil Miquela has resulted in a redrafting of the script.


Arab stars take the viral #10YearChallenge on Instagram

Jessica Kahawaty at an event in 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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Arab stars take the viral #10YearChallenge on Instagram

DUBAI: Celebrities around the world have taken on a new social media challenge that has seen them sharing photos taken 10 years apart to show off just how much (or in some cases, how little) they have changed.

A clutch of Arab influencers also jumped on the bandwagon and shared snaps taken a decade apart, including the likes of Lebanese star Karen Wazen and Saudi designer and blogger Tamara Al-Gabbani.

Al-Gabbani took to Instagram with two posts, both of which she claims show her 10 years apart.

“No edits! No filters! Just braces, fuller brows and no more highlights!” she captioned the first post.

Ten years ago, she sported blonde locks and thinner eyebrows. Fast forward to 2019, and Al-Gabbani looks almost the same, besides her jet-black hair and braces.

Wazen shared two side-by-side snaps — the first of which was a photo of her posing with her husband, Elias Bakhazi.

“It started when we were young,” she captioned the photographs.

For her part, Lebanese-Australian model and influencer Jessica Kahawaty shared a composite photograph in which she looks almost identical in the two snaps.

“20-year-old me and 30-year-old me #10yearchallenge,” she captioned the post, adding “I love this little challenge. Shows how much we have all evolved and a good excuse to dig up memorable pictures — with memorable eyebrows lol (sic).”

Although her hair is slightly shorter in 2019 and her eyebrows are fuller, the humanitarian and event host looks largely unchanged.

Saudi-Lebanese style star Alanoud Badr also took part in the challenge and shared a side-by-side composite photograph.

It seems that fuller eyebrows are a 2019 trend as she too sported a thinner set in her older photograph.

Based in Dubai, Badr is a regular fixture on the UAE’s fashion scene and even has her own brand called Lady Fozaza, which she launched in 2011.

The viral craze has seen a hoard of celebrities take to Instagram to share their photographs, including the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks and Tyra Banks.

Lopez shared a throwback photo of herself while pregnant and then, in 2019, wearing a canary yellow swimsuit with a taught tummy and toned muscles — she may have won the challenge for seeming to age backwards and it’s enough to make us want to hit the gym.