Pati and BeeBee are familiar with the growing custom in the US to wear paper disposable facemasks to prevent the spread of colds and flu. They have seen it even more frequently on this trip. What they had not seen before were colorful cloth facemasks fitted to the face: designer facemasks for women. The masks cover from just below the the eyes, to the ears on the sides, to the neck below the chin. The cheeks, nose, and chin are completely covered.
BeeBee asked the guide if wearing these facemasks is necessary because of poor air quality. He said no, women wear them to keep their skin white. They believe that whiter skin is better. Men don’t care about their own skin, so they don’t wear these masks.
After this, BeeBee began to notice that women also wear flesh-colored socks with their flipflops to cover the parts of their legs that aren’t covered by other clothing. They wear shirts or jackets with high collars to turn up to hide their necks. They wear hats. Some carry umbrellas, but this is not as common, since an umbrella on a motorcycle or scooter would be hazardous. BeeBee saw that the women have become so accustomed to this masking that they even keep it in place indoors. BeeBee doesn’t understand how they breathe under all that masking.
But, to be fair, this seems to be just a variation of the umbrellas carried by any proper Southern belle in the 1800s.
After explaining these “beauty masks” to BeeBee, the guide described another kind of mask that is becoming popular with the Chinese. This is the oxygen mask. Because the air quality in some Chinese cities is so bad, some Chinese citizens are making trips outside China (e.g., to Singapore) to acquire oxygen masks in quantity, for daily use by otherwise healthy people.
To BeeBee, this seems too much like futuristic science fiction that is no longer either futuristic or fiction.
Masks for vanity.
Masks for life.