The Facekini – China’s Bizarre Beach Sun-Blocker

Beach-goers usually use sunblock and umbrellas to make sure they don’t get burned, but in China they use something called a “facekini“. The fact that it makes you look like a Mexican wrestler doesn’t seem to bother anybody.

The facekini is being called “China’s latest beach craze”, but according to a Qingdao sales officer, the bizarre mask has been around for at least five years. But photos of Qingdaonese swimmers wearing the bizarre accessory have only recently gone viral on Chinese social sites, and were eventually picked up by Western photo agencies and websites sparking readers’ curiosity. The bizarre clothing item is made of elastic fabric, covers a person’s entire head and neck down to the collarbone and has holes cut out for the neck, nose and mouth. They look pretty creepy, if you ask me, but that’s apparently a very small price to pay in order to protect yourself from getting a tan while going for a swim.

White skin is considered a sign of beauty in China, and the Chinese even have an old saying that translates as “white skin covers up a hundred uglinesses.” The women go to great lengths to make sure their skin remains white as milk during the hot summer months, and the facekini is just one of the things they use. They also dress in full-body swimming suits, and use parasols while walking on the street. The mask has become so popular in Qingdao that vendors have created regular facekini collections, with dozens of available colors, different size eye holes and seam placement. According to one face-kini wearer quoted by CnnGo, “normal swimmers here all dress like this. We’re used to it already,” so I guess it would seem abnormal not to wear a colorful luchador-style mask at the beach…

But it seems the facekini doesn’t only shield its wearers from UV rays, it also repels other nuisances like jellyfish stings and sharks. One Taobao facekini vendor says the orange colored ones keep sharks away because “they fear this color the most”.

Photos via Ecouterre

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