Barring confusion with a still from some shopping mall horror flick, this photo from a Japanese dressing room might be rather self-explanatory. Whenever women want to try on clothes in Japan, they will usually find a box of nearly transparent fabric slips in the corner of the stall. Though they strongly resemble the fabric softener sheets some people throw in the dryer, they are actually head covers. If you are a foreigner, the assistant will likely point out its presence, urging you to take advantage of the store’s desperate attempt to keep its merchandise in good sale condition. These makeup masks are designed to prevent the inadvertent transfer of all female facial enhancement products onto tops and dresses which are pulled over the face. The concept is similar to the one that spawned the surgical-mask-as-sickness-prevention trend so easily observed in most Japanese public settings.
Many newbies to Japan (myself included) will confess that they simply disregarded these ghostly garment shields in the beginning, not fully understanding their purpose. One girl recently confided to me that she thought it was a sanitary square on which to stand after removing her shoes. One can only assume she has excellent balance. I consider this to be an excellent example of the stereotypically courteous behavior for which Japan is famous. And judging by the liberal use of glitter eyeshadow and fake lashes on display in my city alone, it would appear that such precautionary measures are not merely considerate, but entirely necessary.