I think we can all agree that this is not a real person.
It’s the most basic depiction of something we still recognize as a human face. But here, perhaps, is a more complicated question. Is this a real person?
You’ve probably seen the face before, and if you’re unaware of its origins, you might easily believe it’s a drawing of a real woman. It was actually created in the 1890s by the artist Charles Dana Gibson and was meant to represent “thousands of American girls”.
OK, how about his one?
This, surely, is a real person.
Well, not really. It’s a photo of a real person or, to be more specific, it’s a screengrab of a video of a real person. This, you might rightly think, is arguing semantics, but semantics are important. Here’s why.
Actually, before we move on, it’s worth pointing out that some of you might have believed the above person is Taylor Swift. It’s not. It’s a South Korean beauty blogger known as Pony. Here’s what she looked like before the makeup.
If you’re interested, you can check out the full transformation here.
OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to figuring out what makes a person “real.” It seems to be a simple question. A flesh-and-blood person you can touch is real. Most of us, being presented with a photo of such a creature, would also pronounce them to be “real,” even though we’re aware that what we’re looking at is a highly detailed symbolic representation of said person. Likewise with a realistic drawing, although as Charles Gibson’s work shows us, sometimes we need a bit more information to make our decision.
That’s where Lil Miquela comes in. She’s the latest “famous” Instagram model, having racked up more than 70,000 followers since April, and, to put it bluntly, she’s confusing the fuck out of everyone.