China’s ‘facekini’ was redesigned because kids were terrified of it

Shifan has sold 30, 000 masks in the past year alone, and counterfeits have started popping up around the country. However, the facekini has also drawn comparisons to Spider-Man, as well as wrestlers, the latter of which is understandably scary for children. After considering a whole range of multiple colors for her swimsuit store in the coastal city of Qingdao, she decided to settle on designs inspired by traditional Peking Opera, a form of Chinese opera known for its colorful face-painting.

Zhang Shifan found a way to protect Chinese beachgoers’ skin in 2004 by inventing a swimsuit for the face, known as the “facekini.”

However, the only problem was that the mask was scaring children. So, Shifan, who owns a swimwear store, is redesigning the popular suits in the style of traditional Peking Opera.

In addition to being designed for sun protection, the facekini was also inspired by Chinese women’s desire to preserve her pale skin, according to Time. Pale complexions are seen as being delicate and feminine in China, while “darker skin suggests tanning caused by farming the fields, or other lowly work,” as Reuters describes it. The mask also works against jellyfish stings.

Shifan has sold 30,000 masks in the past year alone, and counterfeits have started popping up around the country. However, the facekini has also drawn comparisons to Spider-Man, as well as wrestlers, the latter of which is understandably scary for children.

“In the past, I really wanted to do everything I could to avoid scaring people,” Zhang told Reuters.

After considering a whole range of multiple colors for her swimsuit store in the coastal city of Qingdao, she decided to settle on designs inspired by traditional Peking Opera, a form of Chinese opera known for its colorful face-painting.

Chinese entertainers perform a Peking Opera at Tianjin Binhu Theater in Tianjin, China,16 November 2014.

Image: Imaginechina via AP Images/Associated Press

“So little children might not be so scared,” she explained to Reuters.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the facekini, you can’t help but respect Shafin’s business savvy.

“She’s able to make something that can both protect people’s skin and blend it with traditional Chinese culture,” beachgoer Zhang Xing told Reuters.

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