Ever more Chinese women are embracing the “facekini” to protect them from the sun and the threat of a tan on a trip to the beach.
Pale white skin is highly-valued in China, where a darker complexion is associated more with poor rural women, who often labour for long hours in the sun.
The nylon accessory has tiny holes for the mouth and nose, offering those who couple it with a full body suit complete protection from not only ultraviolet rays, but also jellyfish and mosquitoes.
The mask was developed more than 10 years ago, with Chinese media attributing its invention to Zhang Shifan, who runs a swimwear store in Qingdao.
The mask has become a common sight on the beaches of Qingdao, in the eastern province of Shandong.
The former German colony is best known abroad as the home of Tsingtao beer, perhaps China’s best-known brand overseas, but is also a resort where holidaymakers flock to cool off in the Yellow Sea during the heat of summer.
The facekini has evolved into a fashion accessory for some, and comes in many different colours, with some of the most recent designs resembling the brightly coloured and striking masks of Peking Opera. (AFP) PMS 07271739