Chinese beach balaclavas get the attention of a former Vogue Paris Editor
In many Asian countries, white skin is associated with higher social status, while dark skin is associated with long hours spent working outside. This cultural belief has spawned an entire market for whitening creams, but China has gone one step further and created the facekini – a beach balaclava that only exposes your eyes, mouth and nose. Picking up on this, CR Fashion Book have done a bizarre photo-shoot that features poolside models trying to catch as little sun as possible.
Well aware of the cultural connotations, the editorial for the shoot reads:
“While our summer beauty routines are devoted to bronzing, self-tanning, and tan-extending, in Asia, beauty-seekers are more likely to centre theirs around lightening and brightening. A tan does not signify a chic trip to Capri, but it could mean hours of hard labour spent out in the harsh sun.”
Originating in the north-eastern city of Qingdao, what was once a functional piece of clothing for women, has now become a thriving industry. Many local swim shops sell the facekinis staring from 15 yuan ($2.43), while online retailers have started to offer a greater selection of colors and prints starting from $16. One Chinese swimmer, Liu Aiwen (刘爱文), told Xinhua News, “The mask not only helps me from getting tanned. It also prevents jellyfish stings.”
While China might try to emulate the West in certain ways, it’s easy to forget that there are still plenty of cultural nuances that are distinctly Chinese. CR Fashion Book also highlights this cultural difference as part of its editorial:
Some of our favorite pastimes are spent outdoors on the tennis courts, on green golf courses, or dining al fresco when the weather permits. Our latest summer story represents an opposing ideal of beauty altogether, with masked poolside models set out to soak up as little sun as possible.
People in the West are well aware of the harmful effects that the sun can have, but it’s unlikely that facekinis are going to replace sunblock, hats, and other accessories any time soon. For the time being, just make sure to soak up CR Fashion Book’s unique take on summer activities in China.
[h/t] The Independent
Images by CR Fashion Book