When teaching abroad in China, teachers expect to see strange things and have a bit of culture shock. However, most teachers in China don’t expect to see something quite this odd! Don’t panic-you are not about to be robbed. The only victim in this near tragedy will be your eyes.
Recently in China, quite a few companies have been promoting what is now being called a “facekini.” Why, one might reasonably ask, would anyone subject themselves to such an uncomfortable beach experience? The most likely reason is for protection from the sun. Besides being deathly afraid of UV rays, Chinese people generally believe that pale skin is beautiful, while tanned skinned is… not. The article explains:
Chinese have a saying that translates roughly as, “pale skin covers up a hundred uglinesses.” Many Chinese women go to great lengths to prevent themselves from getting tan lines in summer, such as using parasols while walking on the streets and wearing long-sleeve jackets while riding bikes or motorcycles.
People in the West, of course, don’t have the same feelings on tanning. Pale skin seems to us to be unhealthy. Please note this is not about race, it’s about relative exposure to the sun. Some have claimed that because lower level jobs leave people in the sun, only the peasant classes get tanned; therefore, for centuries, a tan is a sign that a person is of a lower class and therefore less desirable. The upper classes stayed inside, away from the sun’s harmful rays. The most attractive people are those who avoid this.
It’s difficult whether to say whether or not this is a passing fad or something we are going to commonly see on the beaches of China. Practically, many of the companies are also claiming that in addition to avoiding the sun’s harmful rays, beach goers can also avoid jelly fish stings (reasonable) and avoid sharks (probably not). At any rate, the companies making these visual atrocities are doing their best to make them “fashion” accessories.
Ma Ke Water Park sells the masks in 18 different colors, from sky blue to magenta, and in three styles, distinguished by the size of eye holes and placement of seams.
Good luck to the companies making these-it’s safe to say they will not have an international product on their hands.