Philippines’ First-Ever Virtual Model Gets Flack for Not Looking Filipino Enough

While we might be well and truly on way to computers and digital entities taking over roles of humans, that doesn’t mean that people won’t have bones to pick — even tiniest ones — these creations.

This has clearly been observed by how much backlash artificial intelligence platforms like ChatGPT or Midjourney have gotten since gaining major global exposure over recent months, and not to mention the rise of virtual influencers, which have been touted to take over the roles of real life human social media personalities.

Over in the Philippines, a virtual influencer — supposedly the first of its kind in the country — has been getting mixed reactions from people for her looks. Named Bernila, the female virtual personality was created to follow in the footsteps of other successful virtual influencers like Lu of Magalu from Brazil, or Lil Miquela from the U.S., who has already worked brands such as Dior and Calvin Klein.

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The digital Bernila was supposedly modeled based on 100 different faces to make her seem more realistic, with her design taking into consideration the facial features most loved by Filipinos.

After debuting right at the end of 2022 and despite having gained over 6,000 followers on Instagram, Bernila has received plenty of flack from Filipino social media users for her appearance, with plenty of comments critiquing her look as being very un-Filipino-like.

Many have harshly commented on her big eyes, overly fair skin, and extremely slender figure — which are not what Filipinos tend to view as typical. Additionally, many have also lamented the unrealistic beauty standards that the digital personality would be heaping on to younger audiences.

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“She doesn’t look like a Filipina and may have unrealistic beauty standards. Rename it to a cute AI model instead since she doesn’t represent a trace of being Pinay,” one commenter wrote.

With the idea behind such virtual influencers being to help brands market themselves better and easier through the metaverse, it doesn’t really seem as though this one has managed to quite hit the mark with its Filipino audience.

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