Over the past few years, social media has changed the world. How we think, how we communicate, how we live overall. People can literally make a living from social media and there’s even people becoming famous from it. Of course, with social media, we can control the snapshots of our lives that the rest of the world sees and even tweak it to look like we live in perfect worlds. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if what some people post is real or not real. But, what about when you’re not even sure the person is real?
Meet Lil Miquela
Miquela Sousa is a 19-year-old influencer who hails from Los Angeles, California. She has an Instagram following of over 1.6 million including the likes of Mark Ronson, Diplo and Sophie Turner and has had the opportunity to make out with none other than Bella Hadid for a Calvin Klein commercial. Oh, and by the way, she’s not human.
After her first post on Instagram back in 2016, Miquela soon started getting the attention of virtual society and even had none other than Shane Dawson theorising on her with a number of conspiracies. Was she a digital art project? An ad for a new version of The Sims? Shane’s theories, as they do, gained millions of views, leading to everyone with the same question on their lips: is Lil Miquela real?
For two years, Miquela avoided all questions in relation to the topic until her account was hacked by Bermuda, Miquela’s sister from the same creator who had yet to step into the spotlight. Bermuda’s aggressive cyber hack was an aim to get Miquela to speak her truth.
When gaining access back to her account, Miquela confronts her audience with a confession: she is a robot.
Despite the confession straight from the horse’s mouth, people still conspire about her authenticity. Is she actually a robot? Does that mean she’s real? People are as eager to know every little detail about Miquela’s life and behind-the-scenes as they are Kylie Jenner‘s. But what makes Miquela so appealing?
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As real as Rihanna…
Looking at her social media profiles, there isn’t much difference between Miquela and human influencers. She posts snaps of her cute outfits, she shares candid shots of her, Bermuda and fellow robot/brother/best friend, Blawko, and she is sharing as much of her life as anyone else. As a matter of fact, Miquela openly chooses to get more real than most social media stars.
The robo-star doesn’t shy away from taboo topics; from social justice (LGBTQIA+ and race issues, feminism and, yes, even human rights) to mental health and politics, she is using her platform to encourage people to be more real.
“I don’t know how much detail I’ll go into, but I really want to deal with themes like isolation and loneliness. I know I’m not the only one who has dealt with feelings like that, I know firsthand what it’s like to feel alone and powerless, when your world feels like it’s crashing down,” says Miquela when speaking to NME.
Miquela wears her metaphorical heart on her sleeve. Despite sharing her glossy, jet setting LA lifestyle on socials, she isn’t afraid to talk about any struggles in life – be it about her love life, the hardships of achieving the pop star career she has been striving for or family feuds, Miquela reminds us all that despite seeming perfect online, everyone has a reality where things aren’t the dream world we all believe that these people we put on pedestals have.
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I really played myself this time. One of angel boi’s friends told him who I was and he saw everything I’ve been posting about him. He blew up at me over lunch and stormed out as I ugly cried in front of about 50 strangers… and now he won’t respond to any of texts or pick up his phone. Y’all were right ~ I should have just told him the truth. It just felt so good to have someone like me for me… but I guess that wasn’t even true, because who I am on here IS me. My heart feels like it’s short-circuiting and on 1% battery all at once. Brb crying to Lana for the next 19 years 💧🥀
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Miquela’s acts of acceptance of being real include creating Club 404 – a clothing line, zine, and more – which aims to encourages her followers to embrace their differences and build communities.
Club 404’s manifesto states: “There is a reason why you’re here: you belong.”
“Club 404 is for the courageous and the curious. This is the place where we create. This is where we all feel alive. Together, we are Club 404. Welcome to the club.”
“We work with emerging creators and artists and showcase our collaborations to help get their amazing work in front of a larger audience,” Miquela writes. “I love making new friends and working with creative people, so Club 404 is a way to do both.”
Miquela’s message of being authentically yourself is an attitude shared with her fandom, known as Miquelites. Referring to them as friends and family, Miquela has admitted that her fans are just as open with her as she is with them. “Sometimes I’m surprised by the messages people send me,” Miquela admits to NME. “A lot of them are really personal. The fact that people feel like they can open up to me really makes me feel some type of way. It reminds me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and share your feelings. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from humans, it’s that it’s dangerous and unnecessary to keep things bottled up.”
For many, Miquela is the advocate of being “different” and people can relate to her. She is the advocate of being authentically yourself and embracing your flaws rather than concealing them. And perhaps, that’s exactly why she exists. Looking at her appearance, her face is kissed with a dozen freckles, she has a gap in her front teeth (which, by the way, she loves!) and her fashion sense is bold and expressive, from her cute space buns and funky cut bangs to the bright and beautiful clothes she wears in practically every post.
It’s been clear from day one that Miquela isn’t like other Instagram stars. People have made her the topic of conversation and pointing out her differences. This mirrors a reality for many of her followers who feel they are different or don’t fit into the mould of society. For whatever reason they feel they are an outcast, they feel acceptance and familiarity when looking to Miquela. If you look past the fact she looks different, you can see a lot of values in her that can teach us a lot of lessons that, in a way, have the ability to erase the bad habits and thought process we have unintentionally developed thanks to social media.
So, what is the answer to “is Lil Miquela real?” If we look at how we question the realness of Miquela, perhaps taking a step back, we can realise that maybe we are equally as real as her. We are so busy trying to become something that isn’t actually real, but she is trying to do something of the opposite: making what could be a perfect concept (be it a robot, GCI or any other theory you have on her) more realistic. Maybe we are the ones who need to be questioned in terms of authenticity and how we exist.
Featured image: Miquela via Instagram
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Creative Director of The Honey POP. Disney and pop culture enthusiast.