Model Accuses Designer of AI-Editing to Appear White

Nov 6, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Model Accuses Designer of AI-Editing to Appear White

Nov 6, 2023

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Model Accuses Designer of AI-Editing to Appear White

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.

@shereenwu

Michael Costello has yet to take responsibility for his actions. I want to explain what happened, and I hope other models in the future feel comfortable to speak up. He has since offered to post my photo side by side with the AI one, but has not voluntarily post it. This offer did not contain an apology, and only happened after a model who’s close with him brought light to the situation. Some points I couldn’t fit: -Replaced the face of a model from the same collection -Lightened the skin of a black model in a photo and proceeded to push blame on the makeup artist (mua did not lighten the skin) -Screamed at models backstage (he screamed at the girl who stumbled on the runway to near tears, only to make an Instagram post praising her after.) But considering how long he’s been acting like this, I doubt any apology from him would be sincere; they would be performative at best. (Sorry for the weird cuts and sped up video I was trying to fit as much as I can in) #michaelcostello #greenscreenvideo #drama #michaelcostellocontroversy

♬ original sound – shereenwu

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.

Dehumanizing

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]

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Alex Baker

Alex Baker

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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7 responses to “Model Accuses Designer of AI-Editing to Appear White”

  1. Gary Bailey Avatar
    Gary Bailey

    Unless she has a contract that says otherwise, I don’t think there is much she can do about it.

    1. Geoff Louis Avatar
      Geoff Louis

      Gary Bailey maybe she can’t do anything about it but she can point it out.

    2. ロッリンス デイジャネー Avatar
      ロッリンス デイジャネー

      Geoff Louis agreed, let the internet do the rest.

  2. Helen Gee Avatar
    Helen Gee

    Racist designers seem to be able to get away with it still in this day and age.

    1. Rod Huff Avatar
      Rod Huff

      And Disney.

    2. Rod Huff Avatar
      Rod Huff

      Headline could easily just end with “….appear more attractive.” Race is always the first thing racists see.

  3. Reflections by Fayseen - Photography Avatar
    Reflections by Fayseen – Photography

    You can totally tell this is an AI edit too. She is such a beautiful girl. What a disgrace. Hopefully this post will stop him from doing this to other girls.