As the use of facemasks continues to be widespread in Japan, some women are selling their used masks with lipstick stains online.
A woman in her 30s, who works as a company employee in Tokyo, has been selling her used masks, as well as underwear and tights, online since last year after she saw a tweet about another woman selling used facemasks. Since she had already been selling her clothes and accessories online through a second-hand marketplace app, she decided to sell used masks as well, reported The Mainichi.
In August 2021, the woman sold her first used mask, covered in makeup and sweat, which she purportedly had worn all day at work and the gym. The woman falsely claimed that she was in her 20s in her listing, and within 24 hours she received several indications of interest.
Using the second-hand marketplace app Mercari, the woman sold four masks for 500 yen ($4) each in just her first month and now makes around 3,000 yen ($24) per month. The app’s policies prohibit users from selling used hygienic products, so the woman marks the used masks as T-shirts and other goods.
In addition to the masks, some of her customers inquired about purchasing used underwear and tights, prompting the woman to sell each for 1,500 yen ($11) and 300 to 400 yen ($3) per pair, respectively. Across all her product offerings, the woman has made around 20,000 yen (approximately $154) so far.
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While some people have requested to see the woman’s face, she has yet to agree.
Some students in Japan have also hopped onto the trend of selling used masks, including a third-year junior high school student, also interviewed by The Mainichi, who has been selling since February after she saw her friend participating.
The student has sold 15 masks for 1,500 yen ($11) so far and has also sold photos of her tongue and used underwear. She added that she has never sent nude photos or met her customers in person.
“I don’t really want to do this, but I’m not old enough to work. I’m doing it to make money to buy manga. I plan to quit when I get to high school,” the student was quoted as saying.
Former police bureaucrat and lawyer Yasuo Sawai told The Mainichi that young students who participate in the trend may be subjected to dangerous risks, including threats of sexual violence or coercion to sell nude photos. Sawai also explained that selling used masks could be considered “trading the saliva itself,” which goes against the law.
Japanese youth development laws state that buying used underwear from individuals under the age of 18 is illegal. Used masks, however, are not included and can be “difficult to build a criminal case” against, according to Sawai.