Exhale

China is going absolutely nuts for the latest range of ‘facekinis’

Staying out of the sun’s harmful rays is always important, but one designer has taken it to the next level.

For those who aren’t aware, pale skin is extremely fashionable in modern China – especially among wealthy women.

The reason? Status is everything. In a country moving away from agriculture, a tan marks you as a member of the lower class who must toil away in the open fields for a living.

Meanwhile, pale skin is the ultimate symbol of the middle-to-upper class: it’s an instant identifier that says you don’t have to work in the dirt. It’s a little more nuanced, but that’s the gist of it.

This quest for milky white skin is the reason why ‘facekinis’ have exploded in popularity.

Initially, these balaclava-like head coverings made the wearer look more like a burglar than a swimmer.

But the latest range of full-body facekinis from inventor Zhang Shifan is inspired by pandas, tigers and other endangered species of the world – and they’re making everyone look like Mexican lucha libre wrestlers.

They come with cut-out holes for the eyes, mouth, nostrils and even pony tails.

Can you spot the wrestlers? We sure can’t.

Popularity first spiked in Qingdao, Zhang’s hometown, before spreading to other seaside towns and throughout China. We might have suggested wearing a hat, but they’re pretty set on it.

The rest of the world may choose to point and laugh (guilty), but Chinese men and women of all ages have wholeheartedly embraced a trend which was once reserved for middle-aged women.

We now live in an age where the serious health risks of exposure to UV rays is well-documented, so hats off (though, not literally) to China for taking the sun seriously (even if the suits look extremely unfashionable and perhaps a little creepy).

You too should cover up this summer. Wearing hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, using SPF30+ sunscreen and finding shade when UV radiation is at its peak are all smart ways to avoid sunburn. And seriously, who wants to be lobster red while everyone else is outside having fun? As our friends at Pretty Shady say: ‘Be part of the generation that stops skin cancer, one summer at a time’.