She calls herself SexyCyborg on Reddit and Imgur and she's been called the "World's Sexiest Computer Hacker" by England's Mirror. She's a web developer who learned to code online just two years ago. She is frequently criticized for the way she looks, accused of leveraging her appearance to bring more attention to her projects: a charge that she happily admits to, leaving her critics flustered. At 5'3" and 90 pounds, the Shenzhen, China-based programmer isn't shy about her body, attracting comments both complimentary and disparaging, both of which she takes with stride.
To some, this might reek of self-objectification. To others, it may seem to be self-empowerment: a reclaiming of appearance and sexuality from patriarchal society. But for SexyCyborg, there doesn't seem to be any kind of political angle at all. In an FAQ posted to Pastebin, she says simply that she posts pictures "for fun. We all like to be told we look nice. I was a late bloomer and am new to the attention so appreciate it all the more."
In her most recent post on Imgur, she beats the trolls to the punch, stating forthrightly...
"Yes, they are fake. Yes, I feature them prominently and deliberately in everything I do."
"I could not get longer legs (height is most important in China) so I decided a big chest was the next best thing for looking better," she explains in her FAQ. "I have an interest in any kind of human augmentation. Any robot parts I can get I would- that's why "Cyborg"."
She goes further, addressing Westerners who ask how she can "get away" with dressing like she does as well as those who attempt to shame her. Her arguments are refreshingly lucid.
"(Her appearance is not) an issue here in Shenzhen. No one bothers me. They notice but there is no problem. Our sex workers do not wear this kind of clothing as Chinese men prefer an innocent/cute/childish look. For people making negative comments- while sex workers in your country might wear some similar clothing, women in your country also wear and do things that only sex workers in other, even more conservative countries would do. While we all would like to think our country sets the standard for the world it's polite not to impose our standards on each other- no matter how surprising the differences."
She politely declined an interview, though she did give us permission to use her photographs. She did touch on one question we asked. On the kinds of reactions that she gets, she says:
"China thinks I'm great. Eastern Europe also. America and UK 90% either dismissive or outrage and want me DIAF. Can see in any comments section.
I'm doing thing reserved for professional caste (and usually for men of that caste). But I dress and look like Western 'untouchable'. Response not going to be positive. But kind of hilarious they can't get past it so I keep at it😄.
Beyond the controversy lies one concrete fact: She's talented.
We already featured some of her work in an article about her LED skirts (shown above), but what she's done with a pair of shoes will blow you away...
Just ordinary wedges, right?
Wrong... And if you were in charge of physical security somewhere, that assumption could cost you.
Let's explore SexyCyborg's custom shoes...
An interest in information security and penetration testing led her to consider common weaknesses in security infrastructures.
What's the most common weakness in any security infrastructure? People. People are fallible. They can be tricked, bribed, fooled, lured. They're susceptible to the elements, hunger, moods, and assumptions.
"So I got to thinking- if I had to do penetration testing on a corporate facility, how would I do it? Social engineering for one- I'm a natural honeypot. I think there's a reasonable chance that a guy might invite me back to their office after a few drinks in the neighborhood? :-P But a handbag would be suspicious and leaving cell phones at the gate would be standard practice in any reasonably secure facility. My typical clothing does not leave room to hide anything- but that's all the more reason they would not be suspicious of me."
And that's just the kind of lax attitude that could allow her to walk right in.
She calls them the Wu Ying Shoes. Her explanation of the name is characteristically on point:
"'Wu Ying" means "shadowless", the name is from the folk hero Wong Fei Hung's (黄飞鸿) famous "shadowless kick" (无影脚). Wong Fei Hung is from Foshan, which is my ancestral home as well as the ancestral home of Bruce Lee.
As legend has it, to execute the "shadowless kick" Wong would distract his opponent with a punch or upper body move while striking with his foot. With my shadowless shoes I distract the target with my… upper body and they don't see the real danger on my feet..."
The 3-D printed shoes have concealable "drawers" in each heel that can be customized for various tools...
Like a wireless router...
A keystroke recorder...
A retractable ethernet cable for the router...
A shim for any padlocks that might get in her way...
Oh, and lock picks. Because what you have in your filing cabinets? Yeah, that's going to be hers, too.
In short, just enough high and low technology to wipe your business out.
Now let's see how she made these.
First: 3-D models in TinkerCAD.
She printed the shoes at 0.3 mm. Smaller layers would have taken considerably longer.
She says the prototype weighs about the same as a normal pair of shoes. Here, she removes the support structure from a freshly printed shoe.
Payload and final fit.
And now she owns your data.
Finally, she says: "Any women with questions about teaching themselves online should feel free to contact me on Reddit and I’d be delighted to offer any help I can."
She continues, her words underscored with biting sarcasm, "Remember ladies- if you are thinking about becoming a Maker, learning to code or doing hardware; if a girl who looks like me can do it, how hard can it really be?"