Fantasy world

"The only thing I’m creating is … my appearance. Everything else is me."

Fantasy world
Yasuo Nakajima takes a selfie. (Irwin Wong for The Washington Post)

Full story: A ‘beautiful’ female biker was actually a 50-year-old man using FaceApp. After he confessed, his followers liked him even more.

Soya no Sohi attracted tens of thousands of Twitter followers as a pretty, young motorcycle enthusiast burning up the scenic roadways of northern Japan, posting daily photos as she journeyed across mountains and beaches on her classic Yamaha sport bikes.

Then in March, the social media darling came clean: Soya was actually Yasuo Nakajima, a 50-year-old man who had used the iPhone app FaceApp to transform his face in every shot. The more than 300 selfies he had posted since last summer — the ones with the dewy skin and the perfect smile — were all computer-generated fakes.

His reveal ignited a Japanese media sensation: the “ultimate catfish” who had fooled the Internet into adoring an imaginary woman. Nakajima told a variety show he’d adopted the persona because no one wants to read what a normal middle-aged man posts.

Then something unusual happened: His follower count soared. His fans didn’t voice betrayal or alarm over the year-long fraud; many said they had cared more about his personality than his face. “This beautiful woman only exists within Soya-san,” one Twitter account said, attaching a genderless Japanese title connoting respect. Said another: “I’ve come to like you even more.”

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