The facekini in 2012 first reared its rather unsightly head and is experiencing a 2016 revival. A mask that shields the face from those brutal UV-rays brings up the sizzling question: Has “saving face” gone one breaststroke too far?
In China’s long-standing tradition, tanned skin is a sign of peasantry and hard outdoor toil.
Many people in China have numerous negative associations with tanned skin. Pale, white skin is a long-lived symbol of beauty and privileged. Darker skin, au contraire, to this day is considered a sign of peasantry and outdoor labour. The facekini (尼龙防晒头套) covers the entire face except for the eyes, nose and mouth. To complete this burglar look, it is often paired with a long-sleeved shirt or a full-on wetsuit for overall “preservation”.
The facekini first hit Qingdao, a popular sea-side resort, beaches and HuffPo headlines some four years ago. Like any designer collection, the mask has evolved and is now available in a wide variety of 2016 colors and patterns at the online Taobao retail bargain price of 25 RMB (4 USD). On a very bright note here, the neon orange range is said to help scare away sharks — though methinks the mask itself should suffice. Users add that this once again trending summer It item also provides protection from mosquito bites and jellyfish stings whilst splashing about. Now, if only you were to say “protection from those highly polluted Yellow Sea waters”, you’d get my vote. Or at least sympathy.
The “full-body wetsuit for swimming” concept is the brainchild of sea-side Qingdao’s citizens, i.e. retirement-aged local women.
Even China’s social media mavens such as Sina Weibo’s “Aaron“ have, with a level of spurn and spoof, this July re-introduced the #facekini# hashtag. Three years after its first appearance, the mask is back and Weibo’ers plus WeChatters alike are once again flocking to the Qingdao beaches “to track down these magical living things (神奇的生物)”. It gets you your social media likes and sniggles at the same time. Now, body-shaming, I strongly disapprove of, but let’s face it: The facekini screams Michael Myers, not Marvel Mandarin.
Why don’t you… Slap on the SPF 50 to save your face… And some fashion dignity.
Featured Image: Business Insider.
Photos: Huffington Post.