Picture It

In China, people are spending $1000 on a camera that takes surgery-enhanced selfies

This post has been corrected.

Women in China are obsessed with having white, flawless skin. It’s why you might catch sight of a Chinese woman hiding underneath an umbrella on a bright, sunny day—she’s avoiding getting a tan. The obsession, which has a long history, has resulted in a booming industry in skin lightening products and plastic surgery. Researchers predict the global market for skin lightening creams, gels and powders will reach $23 billion by 2020, propelled mostly by growth in the Asia Pacific region.

Now, the obsession has spilled over into the virtual world with a selfie camera that automatically perfects your face in every photo you take. The camera, made by Casio, is nicknamed zipai shenqi (which means the magical weapon for ultimate selfies) in China. It gets rid of blemishes and makes your face slimmer, skin whiter, and eyes bigger. You can see it in action in the video above.

Apps like Meitu and Meiren Xiangji, which do the same things, have become extremely popular in recent years. Since launching in 2008, Meitu has acquired a user base of over 900 million (link in Chinese). Casio’s camera saves you the additional steps of opening the app and uploading your pic by editing when you snap a photo.

These magic cameras are only available in Asia, though you can get one from a Chinese dealer on eBay and Amazon elsewhere in the world.

Correction (Mar.23 11:56am) : This video erroneously stated that the cost of a Casio camera equals 12 months’ salary for the average Chinese person. In fact, it’s equal to four months’ average net income.

home our picks popular latest obsessions search