When will China’s tech companies take body shaming seriously?

2 min read

Another Chinese video app just updated to make you hate your own body even more.

Weishi, China’s tech giant Tencent’s short video app, added a new filter effect in its newest iOS version that can slim down your legs with a simple touch even when you are making complicated movements. The feature now is available for single-user scenarios, but the company said it will keep updating and the Android version will come later.

“Real time long legs”, the name Weishi is calling the feature, is supported by Tencent’s eminent AI Lab, which is consisted of “tens of global artificial intelligence scientists and more than 70 worlds’ first class AI doctorate degree holders”, according to its official website. Complex and advanced algorithms are developed to track key parts of human bodies, identify consumers’ legs, and slim them down.

The real-time long legs feature on Weishi (Photo credit: tech.qq)

Before focusing on leg shapes, Weishi developed AI based tools for users to adjust their facial features, such as concealing wrinkles, brightening up your skin and enlarging eyes.

Beauty cams first appeared in photo-editing apps and allow users not only to adjust brightness and exposure variables, but also facial modifications. Now, they seem not to be an enhancement in China’s short video apps but an essential. Douyin, the short video app that topped iOS free app charts, which is also Weishi’s direct competitor, offers similar features to enlarge the eyes and sharpen the chins.

Images of women’s flawless faces, glossy hair and model-like figure shapes are popular on social network across the world and users, especially females, are undergoing body shame, stirred up by more and more convenient photo and video editing tools.

In early 2016, A4 skinny waist challenge on Weibo, China’s Twitter, went viral. Women were comparing their waist sizes to the length of A4-sized paper, 21 cm wide, and they win if the paper entirely obscures their waist. Similar challenges include stacking coins on one’s collarbones.

In the ongoing body positivity movement on Instagram, people are encouraged to share pictures of the body shapes as they are. No filters, no editing. Inspired by it, Peter Devito, a 20-year old American photographer, published a series untouched portraits of people with facial acne along with words passed across their faces such as “acne is normal”.

These online campaigns that oppose body shaming and ask people to accept their physical imperfections, are rarely seen in China’s online communities and what’s worse, local tech giants seem to encourage just the opposite.