21-year-old Taiwanese-American model Shereen Wu has raised concerns after accusing a prominent fashion designer of digitally altering a runway photo to make her look white. Wu accused designer Michael Costello of altering the image, which clearly shows a completely different face on the woman’s body.
Wu isn’t represented by an agency and depends on small jobs for her work. In a TikTok video, she revealed that the designer, Michael Costello, shared the doctored image from a recent LA fashion show on his Instagram.
The photo depicted Wu in a floor-length black gown, but her face had been digitally changed to appear as a white woman.
Costello apparently claimed the image was “fan art” he received and took responsibility for sharing it. However, he did not address Wu’s claims directly. In the TokTok video, Wu says that she reached out to the photographer, who denied editing the model’s face.
Wu expressed her disappointment, stating, “I expected to be paid in exposure, but I didn’t get exposure because this is an edited photo.”
Wu’s mother was the first to notice the alteration, leading to a mix of emotions for Wu. She said, “My initial reaction was, ‘Who would remove someone’s head like that?'” The incident has sparked a debate on the ethical use of AI in the fashion industry.
Wu expressed her distress, stating, “It’s very dehumanizing. The very thing that makes us human is our ability to create something beautiful, and to have this beauty be twisted into something that can potentially be ugly is a terrifying thought.”
Models are just one part of the fashion industry that is worried about the potential for AI to steal their jobs. Denim giant Levi’s announced earlier this year that they are experimenting with using AI models instead of real humans in a bid to maximise diversity. In the end, it’s all a cost-cutting stunt, and it’s always the lower-end jobbing members of the industry like Wu that get the short end of the deal.
If Wu was relying on exposure to fuel her career and then received none because they swapped their face, that is a massive breach of trust.
But we all know the truth about exposure bucks; it doesn’t pay the rent and usually amounts to very little. After all, people die from exposure.
[Via The Guardian]