Here’s the thing. urban Chinese women will go to any lengths to avoid direct sunlight hitting their skin. It’s not a health thing; but rather a status thing. Lighter skin is good – a sign of wealth and leisure. Dark skin is bad – a sign that one is probably a common laborer or a peasant.
I discovered this during my first year of teaching in Henan in 1984. In the spring, my teammate and I (who was a California girl) bought bamboo reclining chairs and would sit in the sunshine in the courtyard of our apartment. Our students would come by and beg us not to sit in the sun.
“Please don’t do this,” they would say.
“But I have to. I am from California,” my teammate would reply.
Today, when out on bikes, women don movable sleeves to keep their arms covered and ‘Darth Vader” hats to keep the sun off their faces. Umbrellas are used more on sunny days than on rainy days.
So I guess it was inevitable that someone was going to just go all out and make a mask to completely cover a woman’s face.
Next thing you know it will be an entire body suit.
I dare you to look at them. I dare you NOT to look at them!