Talking To The Facekini Women Of China

Photographed by Heyson Du.
This article was originally published on July 13, 2015.

The coastline in China extends well over 18,000 kilometers, ensuring that the Middle Kingdom never lacks for beautiful beaches. Although China’s most popular beach resorts are located in Beihai, Qingdao, Sanya, and Xiamen.

North of Shandong Peninsula, eastern China’s Shandong Province, Qingdao has a total of 44 beaches along the 710 kilometers of coastline, according to Qingdao News, a major newspaper of the city.

The beach is a signature, and usually the first stop for tourists from all over the country to visit in Qingdao.

Here on the beach, you can see ladies wearing long skirts and straw hats, drinking beer poured in a plastic bag; families, usually parents with a kid (due to China's one-child policy) playing in the sand; and engaged couples having their pre-wedding photos taken by photographers.

However, none of this is as stunning as a bunch of middle-aged Qingdaonese women who regularly swim in the ocean.

These beach icons draw attention because of their bizarre swim gear: colorful, full-face masks. Dubbed "facekini," the fabric masks cover a swimmer's entire head and neck down to the collar bones. Holes are cut for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth. Women wear them for protection from getting a tan and jellyfish stings.

Swimming is a daily practice for the facekini ladies. They normally come to the beach around 5:30 a.m. every day, no matter if it’s summer or winter, sun or rain. Ahead, we interview eight of the beach's famous facekini women.