Unfortunately, a trend known as the “facekini” has made a major impression in the fashion world. What exactly is a facekini, you ask? It’s a nylon head mask constructed with the purpose to protect the face from harsh sun rays. The mask covers the entire head and neck down to the collar bones, revealing only the mouth, eyes and nose.
Several celebrities and fashion icons are encouraging the robber-esque accessory. Former Vogue Paris Editor, Carine Roitfeld, ran a swimwear photoshoot of models wearing facekinis in CR Fashion Book, her biannual magazine.
The CR editorial titled “Masking in the Sun” reads: “Our latest summer story represents an opposing to ideal of beauty altogether, with masked poolside models set out to soak up as little sun as possible.”
According to an article in the Independent, the trend emerged in China in 2012. During this time beachgoers were seen covering their faces with Mexican wrestler inspired masks. The facekini then became popular in the north-eastern city of Qingdao.
Today, the facekini has become so popular that they are under mass production in China and are available for purchase in local swim shops or online. And just like swimwear, you can get them in different colors and prints.
But what doesn’t make sense to me, other than the fact that it seems as though wearing this new trendy swim item would cause the wearer to go into a serious heat stroke, is that for centuries women have been trying to earn the right to walk around on the beach without having to be fully covered. And now, we don’t even want to show our face? What has happened?
In 1908, actress and professional swimmer Annette Kellerman, who is known as the first woman to wear a one-piece bathing suit in public, was arrested for indecent exposure while modeling the “new” and apparently “scandalous” style. Years later, even after women’s suffrage was granted, female beach goers were still being handcuffed over one-piece suits.
In the 1930s, women gained the confidence to wear a two-piece that was still modest, yet comfortable and stylish. In the 60s, the naval was revealed for the first time in swimwear. Then, the sexual revolution blew up and women left their tops in the sand altogether.
Swimwear fashion was just one evolving issue that eventually created a change in the standards of beauty—the working class was no longer the only group to have a tan. The wealthy would take off on exotic vacations or stay home reclining poolside to obtain the perfect summer glow. For years, the mantra was the tanner the better.
Then, science struck.
The sun was no longer girl’s best friend. Studies revealed that the exposure to harmful UV rays could cause signs of aging and skin cancer.
Recent studies show that 80 percent of skin aging is a result of UV rays. And melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has seen a 200 percent increase since 1973. But, ironic as it is, our bodies need the sun for Vitamin D. The sun’s rays have also been proven to reduce the risk of esophageal, pancreatic and ovarian cancers by half.
There are also several beauty products that are sun-approved. SPF can now be found in lip balms, moisturizers, eye creams and make-up. Yet, some women are still sporting ski masks to the beach.