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美图秀秀上市了,但这个世界想要它的审美观吗

更新时间:2016-12-18 11:05:52 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

China’s Meitu, an Aspirational Beauty App, Goes Public
美图秀秀上市了,但这个世界想要它的审美观吗

HONG KONG — Your phone can make your face whiter. A touch can taper your jaw. It can slim your cheeks. Widen your eyes. Of course, it can make you thinner.

香港——你的手机能把你的脸变得更白。轻轻点一下,就能把你的下巴变尖,脸颊变窄,眼睛变大。当然,还能让你变瘦。

In China, beauty — of a particular kind — can come from a swipe. A photo app called Meitu gives its users the power to create idealized versions of their real-world selves and share them with others. Its makers say: “Our mission is to make the world a more beautiful place.”

在中国,扫一扫手指就能变美——当然,是某种特定的美。一款名为美图秀秀的手机应用能让用户创造现实中自己的理想化版本,还能分享给别人。它的制作者们称:“我们的使命就是让这个世界变得更美。”

Meitu and its related apps are hugely popular in China. The apps have 446 million users, and Meitu says more than half of the photos circulated on social media there in June were filtered using its editing app.

美图及其相关应用在中国很受欢迎。它们拥有4.46亿用户。美图称,今年6月,社交媒体上传播的照片中有一半多使用过它的编辑软件。

“Meitu makes everybody look more beautiful in an easy way,” says Du Sha, 26, a graduate student who uses it mainly to erase acne and to smooth and brighten her skin. “It’s a good technology for people to be more social or improve their self-confidence.”

“美图很容易就能让所有人看起来更漂亮,”26岁的研究生杜沙说。她主要用它去除粉刺,让皮肤看起来更光滑、亮白。“这种技术很好,能让人们更愿意社交或增强自信。”

Meitu, the company, now hopes its app will have appeal elsewhere. This week it completed a $629 million initial public offering in Hong Kong, long a gateway for Chinese companies seeking foreign money, and is exploring taking its selfie apps to other parts of the world. Its shares traded modestly lower on their first day on the market, valuing Meitu at $4.6 billion.

现在,美图公司希望自己的应用能在其他地方产生吸引力。本周,它在香港完成了6.29亿美元的首次公开募股——那里一直以来都是中国公司寻求外资的一个途径——正努力把自己的自拍应用推广到世界上的其他地方。上市第一天它的股价略有下跌,市值为46亿美元。

The question is whether the world wants Meitu’s idea of beauty.

问题是这个世界是否想要美图的审美观。

Apps like Instagram and Snapchat have long allowed people to apply flattering filters and wash out their pores. Meitu goes several steps beyond. Cheeks can be stretched and pinched. Chins can be shaved off. Eyes can be contoured.

一直以来,Instagram和Snapchat等应用也允许人们使用美化滤镜遮住毛孔。不过美图的功能更多。可以拉长、收窄脸颊,削尖下巴。还可以改变眼睛的轮廓。

In addition, its tools are tailored toward a standard of beauty — female beauty, mostly — that is particular to China and countries like South Korea and Japan: pale skin, elfin features, skinny limbs, eyes wide and guileless as a baby seal’s.

另外,它的工具都是为了实现同一种标准的美——主要是女性美——尤其是对中国以及韩国和日本这样的国家:白皮肤,小巧的五官,纤细的四肢,像小海豹一样纯真的大眼睛。

“I want to look cuter sometimes,” said Zha Nan, 23, an information technology researcher who has used the app for years. “Using Meitu to fix these things, I feel more comfortable looking at my own face.”

“有时,我想让自己看起来更可爱一点,”23岁的查楠(音)说。她是一名信息技术研究员,使用美图多年。“用美图修图后,我看着自己的脸会觉得更舒服一些。”

Meitu says local teams in different markets are tailoring the software to other standards. But, more fundamentally, Meitu approaches the subject of looks in a manner that reflects common thinking in modern China — like money, education and a good job, beauty is something one can aspire to.

美图称,不同市场的当地团队正在让该软件适应其他标准。不过,最根本的是,美图对外貌的理解方式反映出现代中国的一种常见思维模式——和金钱、教育和好工作一样,美丽是人们可以向往的东西。

It’s a case of “‘I do it because I would like to have a beautiful photo in my C.V.,’” said Wen Hua, a gender consultant for the United Nations Population Fund who wrote a book about cosmetic surgery in China called “Buying Beauty.” Beauty, she says, is seen as a step toward success in work and in society.

联合国人口基金会(United Nations Population Fund)性别平等顾问文华说,在美图这件事上,人们的想法可能是,“我这样做,是因为我想要一张好看的简历照片”。她写过一本关于中国整容手术的书,名叫《购买美丽》。她说,美貌被视为在工作和社会中获得成功的一个步骤。

“Eventually it may not work in that way,” she said, “but that’s people’s perception of it.”

“最终,你可能发现,它并不是那么有用,”她说,“但人们就这么想。”

China — which went from grinding poverty to economic powerhouse in the span of a generation — is an aspirational market. Companies like Apple, Starbucks and Audi have made fat profits selling high-priced gadgets, coffee and rides to Chinese consumers who want to show they have made it.

中国是一个生机勃勃的市场,在几十年的时间里从赤贫发展为经济强国。苹果(Apple)、星巴克(Starbucks)和奥迪(Audi)等公司面向希望彰显自己的成功的中国消费者,销售价格高昂的电子产品、咖啡和汽车,从中赚取了丰厚利润。

Still, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small elite, and the average Chinese consumer has only a fraction of the money to spend as the average American does. Hundreds of millions of people still live in rural areas with few prospects for jobs. Competition to get into universities is fierce, and competition for good jobs after college can be fiercer.

不过,财富集中在少数精英手里,普通中国消费者可供支出的钱和普通美国人无法相提并论。数以亿计的人依然生活在农村地区,几乎没有工作机会。考大学的竞争非常激烈,大学毕业后找好工作的竞争可能更为激烈。

For women, the field can be even tougher. Help-wanted ads often specify whether the employer is looking for a man or a woman, and those looking for females often set height or appearance requirements.

这个领域对女性来说更为残酷。招聘广告通常会说明是招男性还是女性,招女性的工作通常会设定身高或外貌要求。

The growth of China’s service sector puts further pressure on appearance. China’s manufacturing jobs in the past had such strong job security that they were sometimes called the “iron rice bowl.” But the growth of the service sector has led to more jobs that focus on appearance, leading some women to aim for what Ms. Wen refers to as the “rice bowl of youth.”

中国服务业的增长加大了在外貌方面的压力。过去,中国制造业的工作稳定性很强,甚至被称为“铁饭碗”。但是,服务业的增长促生了更多注重外貌的工作,导致有些女性把目标对准文华所说的“青春饭”。

Among those women, certain looks send certain messages. A slim figure and winsome look implies youth. Pale skin denotes a life spent indoors rather than outside working like a farmer.

在这些女性中,特定的外貌传递着特定的信息。纤细的身材和惹人喜爱的容貌意味着年轻。白皙的皮肤意味着,更多的是在室内工作,而不是像农民那样在户外工作。

Sales of beauty and personal care products in China grew by more than half between 2010 and 2015, according to Euromonitor, a market data provider, and now total more than $50 billion annually.

据市场数据提供者欧睿信息咨询公司(Euromonitor)称,从2010年至2015年,美容和身体护理产品在中国的销量增长了一半多,年销售额逾500亿美元。

Cosmetic surgery has boomed — but in China, unlike other places, it is a market for the young. In China, people under 35 are the main customers for cosmetic surgery, while 80 percent of people getting plastic surgery in the United States are over 35, according to a report on the industry by HSBC. It cited, as one motivator, the prevalence of smartphone apps that expose people to beauty marketing and encourage them to scrutinize their photos.

整容业十分兴旺——但跟其他地方不同,在中国,它是年轻人的市场。据汇丰银行(HSBC)的一份行业报告称,在中国,整容业的主要客户在35岁以下,而在美国,80%的整容者超过35岁。该报告认为,智能手机应用的流行是一个促因,它让人们看到更多关于美容产品的宣传,鼓励人们审视自己的照片。

Liu Yu says she feels the pressure to look good. She even uses Meitu for photos that go on formal identification cards and her résumé, she said, though her edits are far more modest than what she posts for online consumption.

刘悦说,她觉得自己在压力之下必须让自己好看起来。她说她甚至在正式的身份证和简历上使用美图修过的照片,虽然她对那些照片的改动比网上发布的照片要少得多。

“Many women always feel like they have flaws,” said Ms. Liu, 23, a graduate film student who uses Meitu to narrow her face, shrink her nose and remove dark circles from under her eyes. “They all wish that through some kind of method they can make themselves more beautiful. Meitu is the cheapest and most convenient way to do this.”

“很多女人总是觉得自己有缺陷,”这位23岁的电影专业研究生说。她用美图把脸修窄,把鼻子变小,去掉眼睛下面的黑眼圈。“她们都希望通过某种方式把自己变得更美。美图是最便宜、便捷的方式。”

Meitu didn’t create this phenomenon, of course, and it rejects the idea that its business model relies on people’s insecurities or cultural pressures. Gary Ngan, its chief financial officer, says the company offers a variety of apps in part because users have a personal idea of what is beautiful.

当然,这种现象不是美图造成的。它不认为自己的商业模式基于人们的不安全感或文化压力。美图的首席财务官颜劲良称,该公司提供各种应用程序,一个原因是,用户们对美各有看法。

“We have to broaden the term beauty,” he said. “It’s not just about a set way of thinking about Asian beauty. It’s about making you happy.”

“我们必须扩展美的概念,”他说,“它不只是对亚洲美女的那套看法。它是为了让你高兴。”

He said the company was, instead, helping its users to become more confident and helping them to “become more beautiful in real life.”

他说,该公司是在帮助用户变得更自信,帮助他们“在现实生活中变得更美丽”。

“For example, when you slim your face and then eventually you say, ‘Oh, I look nice,’” he said, “then you go on a diet, go to the gym and then you become the one” in the picture.

“比如,你把脸修得更瘦,你会说,‘哦,这样看起来是很美,’”他说,“然后你去节食,去健身房,然后你真的变成了照片中那个人。”

With features such as skin whitening, Meitu says it wants to be flexible and offer options only in markets where they make sense.

美图称,它想把美白皮肤等功能变得更灵活,仅在接受这种审美的市场提供这些选项。

“One of the fundamental beliefs of the company is that the use has to be extremely simple,” said Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist who owns a stake in Meitu. Skin tone, for example, is “fixed to each country,” he said. “Is it preferable to have a tan? Some of that is automatic, some within the user’s control.”

“这家公司的一个基本理念是,一定要用起来特别简单,”持有美图股份的风险投资人李开复说。比如肤色是“根据每个国家设定的。人们更喜欢晒黑的皮肤吗?有些是自动的,有些是用户可以自己控制的。”

Meitu will rely on an algorithm to adapt as it moves into other markets. The company collects data on which functions are used the most. Then it uses that data to create or tweak tools to give users what they want, often in consultation with beauty experts, celebrities and local advisers. Some of Meitu’s other apps, like one called MakeupPlus, start with the person’s skin color and offer tools based on that.

美图在进入其他市场时,会根据算法做出相应的调整。该公司根据数据找出哪些功能最常用。然后用这些数据创造或调整工具,给用户他们想要的,通常是结合美容专家、名人和当地顾问的意见。美图的其他一些应用程序,比如美妆相机,以肤色为基础提供相应的工具。

Beauty, said Mr. Ngan, is “somewhat synonymous with happiness, in a way, because you generally feel more happy when you’re more beautiful.”

颜劲良说,美丽“从某种意义上讲,跟高兴是同义词,因为你更美丽时,通常更高兴”。

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