The curious case of the bizarre facekini strikes again! In case you don’t remember, it’s a nylon mask that covers the entire head, leaving holes only for the eyes, nostrils and mouth. The Chinese invention is meant to be used as beachwear, protecting wearers (mostly women) from sunburns and jellyfish stings. It first made an appearance in 2006, and the present “fourth-generation” avatar has managed to enter new levels of weirdness!
Although it has been around for almost a decade, the facekini gained popularity in the past few years, especially among middle-aged Chinese women. Fair skin is highly coveted in China: they even have an old saying that translates as “white skin covers up a hundred flaws”. Women apparently follow elaborate beauty routines to ensure that their skin does not get tanned, so their obsession with the facekini is rather understandable. Some women even go as far as wearing full-body swimsuits and use parasols while walking outdoors.
The latest version of the beach accessory was released by designer Zhang Shifan at the 13th International Marine Fair and Boat Show in Shandong province last week. She explained that the craftsmanship of the first-generation facekini was rather rough and did not fit the face too well. The second version fit better, while the third generation had a triangle design at the top to make it more comfortable. The current facekini has been created by optimising the design of Beijing Opera masks, giving it a ‘Chinese-style’ flare and fine triangle-tailoring.
According to Zhang, the latest, greatest facekini is in its trial run, and will be mass produced in July. Would you like to try one?