PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2003, 12:00am

We all know how some Hong Kong women go to great length to keep their skin lily white. This incident was spotted by an alert reader who wishes to remain nameless.

'A tai tai was seen crossing the covered bridge between Prince's Building and the Mandarin Oriental hotel. A domestic helper was trotting along beside her, doing her utmost to shade her face from the afternoon sun with a newspaper.'

The phenomenon is not confined to tai tais. A court reporter friend of mine was caught in the sun one day while waiting for a rape suspect to come out of the courthouse, so we could take pictures and splash his face in the papers the next day. The poor girl only had one of those hand-sized notebooks to cover both her face and exposed thighs. I offered my notebook but she declined.

It's all men's fault and the cosmetics industry's, of course, for 'fetishising [the female skin] by the masculine gaze'. Well, that's what I read recently at an academic conference and I include it here so I won't be inundated with catcalls.