Just when you thought the face-kini couldn’t be any more bizarre looking, new designs coming out in China just pushed it up a notch.
Face-kinis are stretchy headwear, similar to superhero masks, that cover nearly the entire face, save for little cut-outs for the eyes, nose and mouth.
They’ve been popularly seen on Chinese beaches over the past few years, but until recently, have only come in solid colours.
Last year, the inventor of the face-kini, Zhang Shifan, started coming out with Beijing opera style designs. Now, other face-kini manufacturers in the country have quickly followed up by flooding the market with new patterns.
Some of these range from full body lizard suits, to turquoise leopard print and red tartan patterns.
Here are some designs available on Alibaba’s Tmall:
Face-kinis are generally associated with older ladies in China who want to hit the beach without getting a tan. Tanned skin is not favoured in many Asian countries, where there is a huge market for beauty products promising fairer skin.
But it’s not just about tanning. Some women have found that the full body suits are helpful as protection against jellyfish sand rough rocks, while other older ladies have said they appreciate being anonymous under the masks while they wear swimsuits out in public.
Younger people on Weibo have expressed a wide range of reactions to the face-kini, from amusement to disgust. Most, however, say they’ve grown accustomed to the sight of “aunties” donning the face-kinis.
One popular comment from an Amanda Pong with 404 likes, said: “Even as a young person, I want to try one on.”
Another commenter, Du Yu Liu, said: “I don’t understand why foreigners say this looks strange. If the aunties in China want to wear this, I think it’s worthy. Nobody’s forcing you to wear one.”