Nonetheless, Wilson and fans view Shudu’s design as an act of flattery. A white male photographer sets off to “create” the most beautiful woman in the world, and she is not a blonde Farrah Fawcett doppelgänger—this is admiration and not disrespect. Wilson says he was inspired by Lupita Nyong’o, Alek Wek, Duckie Thot, and the South African Princess Barbie—all dark-skinned beauties, only one of whom isn’t a real person.

“It’s only trying to add to the kind of movement that’s out there,” he told Harper’s Bazaar. “It’s meant to be beautiful art which empowers people. It’s not trying to take away an opportunity from anyone or replace anyone. She’s trying to complement those people.” He also added that, because we live in world of Instagram filters, we’re already blending fantasy with reality on a daily basis— and that he is not trying to make money off Shudu’s image.

Ultimately, Wilson says, he’s just bringing fantasy closer to reality.

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