The masks are an outward expression of a Chinese understanding of beauty in terms of skin color.
“I myself don’t mind getting tanned, but I can see why pale skin is attractive,” Alina Zhao, a college student in the U.S. who grew up in Zhejiang, China, said.
“It definitely has to do with the history of China, which is largely an agricultural society,” she added. “Getting tanned means you work outside in the fields a lot, so skin color is like an indicator of your social status. The fairer you are, the wealthier or more respected you seem.”