Virtual Plastic Surgery Apps Come to China

The country's web developers have taken "selfies" to a whole new level.
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Double Selfie (POCO.CN)

Selfies, the young American term for self-portraits taken with a cell phone, just took a new turn in China. A new version of a recent Chinese smart phone app allows users to enhance photos of themselves by widening their eyes, lightening their skin or adding long eyelashes --in other words, attempts to look more Caucasian.

The app, called the "beautiful people camera," or meiren xiangji, which was developed by Guangzhou-based photo sharing community and app maker POCO.CN, also allows users to remove bags from under their eyes, narrow their face, modify their smile and add anime-style makeup. Users can then post the photos to social media platforms such as Sina Weibo.

It's a virtual version of plastic surgery trends among Asians and Asian immigrants that preference Caucasian features. For instance, blepharoplasty, more commonly known as "double eyelid" surgery creates or dramatizes an upper eyelid crease that many East Asians lack. Shaping one's nose to appear less flattened is also popular. In 2012, Asian Americans were the fastest growing ethnic group to go under the knife. Photos of eerily similar looking Miss Korea finalists prompted a debate online over whether plastic surgery, common in South Korea, is turning Korean women into clones.poco-anime-like-phototop.jpg

An ad for the app on iTunes (POCO.CN)
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This ad shows before (left) and after photos of using its app. (POCO.CN)
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Eye color augmentation is one of the app's features. (POCO.CN)
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French makeup and perfume maker Guerlain is marketing its Météorites powder on POCO's app with a contest to model for one of their photo shoots. This is one entry. (Sina Weibo)

Lily Kuo is a reporter at Quartz covering emerging markets.

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