The aspiring American model of Asian descent took part in the fashion show of designer Michael Costello’s collection. He shared her photo on the Internet, modified by artificial intelligence so that the model’s face looked like the face of a white woman. Shereen Wu publicized the case on TikTok. She called the designer’s behavior “dehumanizing.”
Shereen Wu is an American model with Taiwanese roots. Recently, she has been in the news due to a TikTok video in which Wu comments on photos circulating on social media from a fashion show in Los Angeles on October 22. The model presented clothes from the new collection of designer Michael Costello, who previously collaborated with, among others, with Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Beyonce. He shared photos from the show on his Instagram. Wu’s silhouette is visible, but the 21-year-old’s face has been modified by artificial intelligence to make her look like a white woman.
A few days after the show, Wu posted the above-mentioned video on TikTok. In his description, she noted that “Michael Costello must be held accountable for what he did.” “I want to explain what happened. I hope that in the future other models will feel comfortable speaking on such topics. Later (Costello – ed.) offered to publish my photo next to the one created by AI. However, he did not do it voluntarily, and only when a model close to him shed light on the whole situation,” we read in the description.
Translations by Michael Costello
“The Guardian” explains that on November 2, Costello posted a statement on his Instagram profile. He emphasized that the photo in which Wu’s face was modified by AI was a “work of a fan”, without specifying the source. He also added that he was responsible for making it available. “I didn’t think before I posted it in my stories. I was on an emotional rollercoaster, I shared every post I was tagged in,” Costello assured. The daily reports that less than 24 hours after publication, the entry disappeared from the designer’s account.
In her video, Wu included screenshots of messages she received from Costello. In one of them, the designer noted that he “liked the model” and that “if he didn’t like her, she wouldn’t have been chosen for the show.” However, Wu does not believe these assurances. “I was invited to take part in the show only because they lacked a model and I fit into the prepared outfit,” the 21-year-old said in her TikTok video. She added that “altering her face and erasing her race is disrespectful.” She also emphasized that Costello “gets lost in the testimony.” Initially, in his conversations with her, he blamed the photographer. Later, a “fan-made” version appeared.
– I don’t get paid for participating in such shows. The benefit is exposure. If my face is hidden, the work of the make-up artist, photographer and hairdresser is not exposed either. This is what pisses me off the most, said Wu, quoted by the Guardian. Costello, in a statement that has since disappeared from Instagram, assured that he did not know that the 21-year-old was not paid for her appearance on the catwalk.
A model “bleached” by AI. “It’s dehumanizing”
In the TikTok video, Wu noted that this is not the first time Costello has been accused of using models. She recalled that in the past he was accused of, among others, racist behavior. The 21-year-old also said that before the show in Los Angeles, Costello allegedly shouted at the girls participating in it.
– I hope people understand how painful it is to steal someone’s work. It’s very dehumanizing. What makes us human is our ability to create something beautiful. The transformation of this beauty into something that could potentially be ugly is terrifying, Wu concluded in an interview with the Guardian.
The daily explains that the model with Taiwanese roots is taking her first steps in the industry and is not represented by any agency. After Costello threatened her with legal consequences, she contacted the Model Alliance organization, which defends the rights of people working in modeling. – For over a decade, we have been hearing from models who found their photos in stores or on the company’s website heavily manipulated or used without their informed consent or remuneration. Unfortunately, Shereen’s experience is just one of many examples of why models need protection as workers […] Artificial intelligence may be a new technology, but the problem of inappropriate use of models’ images is not new, said the founder of the organization, Sara Ziff, quoted by the Guardian.
Main photo source: TikTok/@shereenwu