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After saving global gold prices in 2013, Chinese dama, or middle-aged women, have found another claim to fame: Influencing world fashion trends.

While most think of going to the beach as an excuse to wear as little as possible, many of these women prefer to stay covered up. But don’t start calling them prudes, since, for them, it’s a matter of practicality and beauty!

Though recent beauty trends in the West have turned towards tanned skin, many Asian women still value a paler complexion. Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone, but for large swaths of Eastern women, Snow White has just about the ideal skin tones. Hey, it reduces the chance of skin cancer, right? Who could complain about not getting cancer?

▼Oh, and they kind of look like superheroes from the 80s!

https://twitter.com/icelollyholiday/status/501310442091085824/

While you could just slather on some sunscreen, these Chinese dama masks are a far more effective way of keeping skin-destroying UV rays off our faces. Looking not dissimilar to the gooey face pack we tried earlier this week, the dama masks are full head masks with openings for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Basically, we’re one bank robbery away from a Quentin Tarantino movie starring a team of wise-cracking, sandal-wearing Chinese dama in a shootout with crooked cops.

▼I bet he’d call these two Ms. Black and Ms. White just to be obtuse, too.

dm1Twitter (@PDChina)

But as cool/weird/creepy/fascinating as these masks are, you’re probably still wondering why we’re talking about the fashion trends of middle-aged Chinese women at the beach. Well, apparently, the fashion world is somewhat starved for ideas as the Chinese dama mask is attracting attention global attention and many are hailing it as the Next Big Thing following a photo shoot for a French fashion magazine. In fact, the masks have even been given the incredibly groan-inducing name “facekinis,” but we can’t see the word and not think of a drunk Spongebob Squarepants attempting to wrap his face in a bikini.

Even NBC is saying that these Chinese women are at the center of the global fashion world…

https://twitter.com/NBCAsianAmerica/status/503709210618499072/

And it took some doing, but we found a bit of evidence that this isn’t just for middle-aged women either! Here’s s little kid wearing the mask, looking just a little bit too bad-ass.

https://twitter.com/thenewsminute/status/503447857819418624/

What we haven’t been able to find, though, is evidence of widespread adoption of the sun-fighting swimwear. It doesn’t seem like women around the world are actually picking up the Chinese dama masks and running out to their local beaches to, uh, not soak up the rays. At least not many besides the photos from the now famous fashion magazine photo shoot.

▼Um, excuse, but you’ve got a little bit of tiger on your face…

https://twitter.com/PSFK/status/502976080790425600/

But just because it’s not insanely popular down at the local beach yet, doesn’t mean it never will be. In fact, an online retailer has already appeared: Facekini.com. The store sells the masks in a variety of prints and each one will set you back between US$16 and $17.50. They even have testimonials from satisfied customers, though we’re still a bit skeptical.

▼On the other hand, they look happy, right?

https://twitter.com/onionioniko/status/502302628286431232/

While it may seem like we’re laughing at the Chinese dama and their slightly terrifying masks, we’re really not. These women represent the emerging Chinese middle class and, as we mentioned above, when they act in unison, they can literally change world markets. While it’s both absurd and awesome to see the Chinese dama mask sweeping global public consciousness (and probably nightmares), we’d do well not to forget that they have both immense purchasing and cultural power.

▼With floaties at the ready.

https://twitter.com/featureshoot/status/495403670914084864/

What long-term, practical effects they will have on the world remains unknown, but at least they have good taste in movie stars! Here’s Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean dancing with middle-aged Chinese men and women in Shanghai.

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Hmmm…wait a second here. We think we might…yep!

▼Nailed it!

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Now, someone please come up with a better name than “facekini!” Mr. Sato refuses to put one on until we can call it something that doesn’t end with “kini.”

References: Ejinsight, World of Chinese, Wikipedia, Want China Times
Images: Twitter (@Bellsweddingpho)CCTV.comTwitter (@PDChina)