China’s Solar Visor Craze
20 Jul 2004
China is currently in the midst of a new headwear craze. It’s like a typical sun visor with a swivel down piece of dark transparent plastic which shades the face from the summer sun’s harsh glare. The protective plastic can serve as an extended visor (up), or sort of a whole-face “sunglass mask” (down). See the pictures below, modeled by yours truly. I’m not entirely sure what to call the new hat-like apparel.
The Chinese just call them 太阳帽, which could be literally translated as “sun hat” and my (normally awesome) good dictionary lists as “sun-helmet.” The thing is, I’ve been in China nearly four years, and I can assure you that this is an entirely new product, so the dictionary term can’t possibly apply in more than a very general way. Anyway, I can’t call these new “sun-helmet” things “sun visors” because that name is already taken by the traditional sun visors without the crazy swivel-down tinted plastic piece. So I’m calling them “solar visors.”
The whole point of this post is that China is going nuts over these solar visors. Like I said, as far as I know, they weren’t even around before this summer, and now I see them everywhere. They’re particularly popular among the bicycling crowd. Russell just got back from trips to Beijing and Sichuan, and he said they were all over there too. These solar visors are taking the country by storm. And they’re just so tacky. But practical. The Chinese go for practical.
Here are a few shots I took last Saturday of the Solar Visor Madness coursing through the streets of Shanghai these days, and, indeed, possibly all of China:
I hope you’re thinking, “wow, those look really ridiculous.” Because that’s the idea. It’s madness! But it’s kinda fun.
Why do the solar visors look so ridiculous on people in the street? Perhaps they remind you of something? Here are two possibilities:
Of course, it’s not the entire country that has gone mad. A lot of people stick to more traditional (and sometimes quite creative) methods of protecting themselves from the sun:
I just stick to sunglasses, myself. After taking my pictures I gave my own solar visor away to someone who would use it for more than a blog entry. It cost me 7 rmb (less than $1 US).
Have you seen these things before? If not, you probably will soon.
Update: You can buy these on Amazon.