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Lil Miquela: The Computer Animated Instagram Model

Does it really matter if she's real?

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Instagram: @lilmiquela / Via Instagram

This is Lil Miquela, also known as Miquela Sousa. Her cropped bangs, perfectly symmetrical face, and trendy big lips are just some of the physical attributes that contribute to her growing Instagram fame.

Based out of Downey, California, Lil Miquela's Instagram account was activated in April 2016 and amassed over 58,000 followers in the first three months. Today, she has almost 500,000 followers and a new pop single.

In a world where anyone with a pretty face and good style can be an Instagram model, Miquela's fame may not strike you as odd. What stands out about Lil Miquela's rise to internet fame is that she's not real.

That's right, Lil Miquela is actually a computer generated 3D sim, allegedly created by an artist named Arti Poppenberg. But for many of her Instagram fans that doesn't really matter. Despite the fact that she is not actually human, her photos serve the same purpose as those of real life Instagram models.

Miquela uploads pictures of herself at well-known clubs and music venues in LA, wearing popular articles of clothing by trendy designer brands, and even posts selfies next to real musicians, models, and social media personalities.

Instagram: @lilmiquela / Via Instagram

Sure, any talented computer animator could create a lifelike character, but what sets apart Lil Miquela is her piercing cultural and social relevance. She is a self-proclaimed "art thot", she experiments with avant-garde makeup, and wears brands that everyone on Instagram is talking about.

One particularly convincing trick is when Miquela posts pictures of famous, or at least midly famous, musicians on her page. In September 2016, when the Washinton Post ran a profile on her, reporter Caitlin Dewey took it upon herself to reach out to some of the chosen artists. The only reply, from publicist of singer-songwriter Tom Krell, who had appeared on Lil Miquela's account a few weeks earlier, said "No idea what this is, but it sure is funny!"

Instagram: @lilmiquela

Miquela also likes to post memes, like the one above, based off viral memes or other content. Not only do these types of posts keep her relevant, they also make her seem more real to the average viewer scrolling through instagram.

Comments on her posts vary between adoring fans: "OMG you are so pretty", and angry skeptics: "this is so obviously fake."

But in reality, why does it matter if she's fake? Lil Miquela serves the internet just as well as any other famous social media personality. Real or not, she shares relevant content that people enjoy, and for some, the mystery of her digital existence adds something fun and mysterious.

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Last August Lil Miquela released her first single, Not Mine. The song earned her a write-up on the Billboard website and over 1,000,000 listens on Spotify. Theres almost no way to tell if Miquela is the first in a long line of digitally crafted pop/internet stars or just a one-off, but the world is watching.

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