As if all women of a certain age making the same damn expression and standing like this wasn’t bad enough, homegrown smartphone app Meiren Xiangji (‘Beauty Camera’, 美人相机) encourages Chinese users to lighten their skin and widen their eyes. If the app is successful social networks will be (even more) awash with homogenous, uncanny valley-esque photos of half-human anime characters.
The app, developed by POCO, allows users a range of ‘beatifying effects’, from lightening skin to adding huge eyelashes and new, plumper lips. Meiren Xiangji is proving so popular with young Chinese women Jing Daily reports, that traditional beauty brands are taking note:
Most recently, French cosmetics and perfume company Guerlain teamed up with POCO to market its Météorites powder on the app, a product which employs the “technology of white light” to “erase imperfections and soften features” much in the way that the app transforms its users’ skin onscreen. The use of this device is a savvy marketing move for Guerlain—by advertising on the app, women wishfully hoping for their fantasy images to reflect their real-life self are presented directly with a product promising to do this for them.
Guerlain’s highly stylized method for advertising on the app involved a social media component and giveaway option. Going a step beyond advertisers’ typical strategy of embedding spammy, distracting ads that users are likely to exit out of, Guerlain created a special frame option that women could choose to upload with their picture. If they uploaded the picture to Weibo with a specific tag (#博个美丽星愿#), they were entered into a contest to become real-life models in a magazine photo shoot sponsored by the company, and one grand prize winner would be able to experience the brand’s French heritage with a free trip to Paris. The tag appeared in comments by around 41,400 users, many of whom clearly spent intense effort on crafting a worthy image.
The beauty industry has always capitalised on people’s insecurity, but the fact that a huge brand like Guerlain is endorsing such an impossible to achieve ideal as that created by Meiren Xiangji, and implicitly suggesting that the company’s products will allow consumers to recreate the effects in real life, is disturbing to say the least.