China's famous 'face-kini' gets Peking Opera-inspired facelift

Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:14am EDT
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By Joseph Campbell

QINGDAO, China (Reuters) - What do Chinese women do when they want to go swimming but maintain their pearly-white complexion?

They put on a mask made for the beach, and fondly known as a face-kini.

A pale complexion is highly prized as delicate and feminine in China while dark skin suggests tanning caused by farming the fields or other lowly, outdoor work.

The face-kini appeared in 2004 on the beaches of the coastal city of Qingdao, in response to demands for full protection from both the sun and from jellyfish stings.

The inventor, former accountant Zhang Shifan, told Reuters she never imagined here mask would become so popular with about 30,000 of them sold over the past year.

But there's a hitch.

The masks scare children, Zhang said.

"In the past, I really wanted to do everything I could to avoid scaring people," said Zhang, who owns her own swim-wear shop.   Continued...

Women wearing face-kini masks chat on a beach in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer