Lil Miquela is the Instagram avatar with a flesh-and-blood fanbase
ALL CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES: BALMAIN.
Miquela does Instagram the way most people do Instagram. She posts photos on beaches and in art galleries. She advocates for social causes. She shares memes and makeup trends. There’s nail art and athleisure and mini bangs— and, of course, selfies. But look closer—at the smoothed-out skin, the ambiguous ethnicity, the way her eyes don’t quite make it across the uncanny valley—and you’ll notice that Miquela, known to her half million followers by the handle @lilmiquela, is not quite, well, real.
Since making her social media debut in April 2016, the digital avatar’s creator has been the subject of considerable scrutiny. But for Miquela—or whoever communicates online on her behalf—that’s not the point. “People are constantly trying to figure out their purpose and who they are,” she says. “I think sometimes they direct that energy at other people instead of looking at themselves.” But before she can break down her own myth, Miquela is interrupted: “One sec, I need to go close this door. People are bothering me.”
In addition to the role she plays on social media, Miquela has amassed some very real fans, and the attention of record labels, for the glitchy, Auto-Tuned pop she records in her Los Angeles studio. Her influences range from Rihanna to the Brazilian music her father used to play for her, but she still has work to do before going pro. “I’m trying to do it on my own until I can really figure out my sound,” she says. As for her live shows, which she swears are coming, Miquela hasn’t decided how she’ll present herself, not that it matters. “It’s an interesting time for reality,” she says. “It’s being redefined by technology every day— fake news, fake body standards. Authenticity is a rare thing right now.”