Death by a thousand photoshops

My Chinese preschool coworkers look like people — people with freakishly arresting contact lenses, maybe, but people nonetheless. So why does my Chinese social media feed look like the spawn of an unholy union between Pixar and the robot apocalypse?

Behold! We took a selfie with Jessica’s new Chinese smartphone, and turned up all the automatic “beauty” enhancements to 100 (brace yourselves…):

death be Chinese selfie
Oh the humanity! *shudder* Did zombies get Dr. Who?
You think people have body image and self-esteem issues now? Just wait ’til kids grow up on this:

Expression Fully ProminentBeauty Level 5

Do all smartphones do this now? My iPhone 4 is running an older iOS, so I’m out of date. When you take a selfie with Jessica’s Huawei Honor 4X it automatically sets the beauty enhancement level at “You’re Not Near Good Enough” “5” out of 10. Someone who’s not paying attention probably wouldn’t notice that their photos are being altered on the fly. But you can continue damaging yourself psychologically with these additional options: Smooth, Whitening (skin), Thin face, Slender nose, White teeth, Enhance eyes. So it’s like Instagram, but for dehumanizing yourself. You can go from 0% Beauty to 100% Beauty in seconds:

“Beauty: 0%” Holy cow.
“Beauty: 100%”!
I suppose that pretty much speaks for itself.

It’s understandable that my coworkers are driven to extremes. The beauty industry and culture isn’t any less ridiculous in North America, but in China it’s a little more… straightforward. Here are two advertisements from our neighbourhood, both within sight of the preschool:

neighbourhood PS BS 1neighbourhood PS BS 2

But hey, no pressure…

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