23 July 2019
Damas (right) just wanna have fun: The mask is now a chic fashion accessory. Photo: Xinhua
Damas (right) just wanna have fun: The mask is now a chic fashion accessory. Photo: Xinhua

From creepy to chic: The evolution of the Chinese Dama mask

Probably not even in their wildest fantasies did Chinese Damas imagine this would ever happen. 

A weird-looking but highly practical mask they use to protect their face from the sun is now the latest must-have, must-be-seen-using accessory in the fashion world.

The mask, similar to those used by terrorists and bank robbers, is made of light and porous material such as nylon or cotton. It covers the entire head and neck but has three holes to allow the user to see and breath.

CR Fashion Book, a style guide run by former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld, thought it’s cool, and featured it in a recent edition with young, curvaceous models donning more stylish versions of the wearable sunscreen. 

“[Unlike the Westerners’ beauty routines that are devoted to tanning their skin], in Asia, beauty seekers are more likely to center theirs around lightening and brightening. A tan does not signify a chic trip to Capri, but it could mean hours of hard labor spent out in the harsh sun,” the magazine notes.

Middle-aged women in Qingdao, in eastern China’s Shandong province, were first spotted wearing the masks during their morning and afternoon sojourns to the beach in 2012. They were quite a unique sight, and soon it became a sizzling topic on social media.  

But children did not find it amusing. Local media have reported not a few cases of kids who got scared by the sight of the masked ladies. They sulked, cried, refused to get close to the women, and badgered their parents to pack up and go home, their day at the beach completely ruined.

Oh well, it’s not that bad. TIME magazine included images of the masked Damas in its collection of The Most Surprising Photos of 2012.

“[The mask] is one of the greatest contributions Chinese Damas have made to the world after snapping up gold products and popularizing the square dance,” quips one commentator.

Just don’t try wearing it inside the bank.

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From object of ridicule to fashion statement, the Dama mask makes it to the glossy pages of a top-rated style magazine. Photo: CR Fashion Book

With their sunscreen hoods, Chinese Damas enjoy a day at the beach. Photo: TIME

No, they’re not Ninja warriors. They’re also not from any jihadist group. Photo: CNS

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