Words by Roxanna Wright, staff writer
Why CGI and fashion should not cooperate; a step in the wrong direction for body positivity
On the 4th February, Pretty Little Thing announced its first CGI model, Luna. Luna is a mixed race, approximately size 6-8 model. She is flawless and beautiful and toned. She isn’t the first CGI model to exist either. Over the past couple years, CGI models have been used by even bigger and designer brands such as Calvin Klein and Prada. On the surface, the cooperation of fashion and technology may seem like a natural progression. But complaints have been rolling in since Pretty Little Thing (PLT) announced their inclusion of CGI models, so it is important to question whether CGI belong in the fashion industry.
On one hand, CGI models can be argued as inevitable because of how far CGI has advanced over the last decade, and technology in general. We are in the age of the internet, social media, photoshop and high tech, that it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that CGI models have become intertwined with the fashion industry. Some may view it as innovative, whereas myself and a significant number of PLT consumers, on the other hand, find it extremely disjointed, disturbing, and even more than the rest, impractical.
Although we are living in a world of outstanding and ground-breaking technology. We are also in an era of self-love and body positivity. Our society have come into a realm of embracing imperfections, showing real bodies, plus sized models, stretch-marks, Lizzo and feminism. It is becoming trendy for influencers to show the ‘real’ as well as the ‘constructed’. Consumers and audiences are being taught not to compare themselves to people online, and influencers are becoming so much more diverse. The idea of beauty is becoming more flexible and real, breaking down dominant and mainstream ideas of beauty, perfection and how women should look. CGI models completely defeat these messages.
CGI models seem like a complete step-back and almost an insult to all of these notions. They are everything that feminism have been arguing against. We are not supposed to compare ourselves with false constructions of bodies, yet we have to consume a simulation of humans when shopping? Barriers of beauty are being broken down, but presented to us is a carefully designed model which reinforces an unrealistic and unreal figure. Amongst real women, all having their imperfections, otherwise known as characteristics which prove us to be human, is a robot. It sells a completely disjointed message to the PLT consumer, many of which are young, impressionable women.
‘Uncanny valley’ is a phrase defined as a robotic objective looking so realistically human that it evokes feeling of disturbance or discomfort in humans. This is precisely how I felt when I first gazed upon Luna, the CGI model of Pretty Little Thing. She is so humanistic that it makes me feel uneasy. Many CGI models are not just a body either. They are created with personalities that have hobbies, dislikes and promote opinions like any other influencer. I believe there are places that this extreme realism can be used, such as video games or films, but not in fashion. Fake people belong in the fake worlds of Fortnite maps or Disney. But when a fake person is placed in the real world amongst real people, it is unsettling. It begs the question, what was ever wrong with real women?
Finally, impractical. The roles of models on fashion websites are to present and advertise products. We use them to see how clothes fit, how they are styled and how they look on people. In the descriptions of items, the model’s height and what size of clothing she is wearing to guide the consumer. CGI models can’t achieve this. How are consumers supposed to know how a top or dress fits on a human if it is not being modelled by a human? This issue was certainly stressed in the comments of the revealing of Luna on Pretty Little Thing’s Instagram page. One user commented ‘Nobody asked for this. We want to see clothes on REAL bodies.’ Another said ‘No coz I need to know how it’s gon look on me in real life. Not in Anime.’
Despite being in the age of technology, CGI and our current societal preach of body positivity cannot co-exist in fashion. I am not a massive fan of models and influencers myself, but I would take them any day over a CGI model. Buyers want to see clothes on a REAL woman. There was never an issue around female models, so why try fix something that was never broken?