Usually we just think of Zentai suits as being just for fun at parties, but they can make a big difference for people with very light sensitive skin who get sunburned in minutes and can't go swimming outdoors easily. New swimsuit designs now give them a chance to enjoy the beach.
Even if a suit doesn't have any face opening, it's usually quite easy to see or breathe through. It is not an effective blindfold. For swimming such a suit should at least leave mouth or nose open for breathing, as wet Lycra can be a hindrance.
The fabric remains very tight and elastic in the water. The zip does not prevent active swimming, so apparently there are good designs somewhere.
The name comes from Zentai (from the Japanese ゼンタイ). This is either a contraction of zenshin taitsu (全身タイツ) ("full-body tights") or a direct translation of "full body" (全体 zentai). Zentai is most commonly made using nylon/spandex blends, but other materials such as cotton and wool are used as well.
In major cities worldwide (but especially in Japan), zentai suits are becoming an increasingly common sight as recreational wear for both men and women. People in Zentai suits are showing up in dance clubs, meditation studios, swimming pools and shopping malls. A subculture is beginning to take shape around zentai.
There are also those who enjoy Zentai suits for the recreational sensory novelty or physical comfort Zentai suits are also being used more and more as recreational clothing to lounge around in.
Zentai suits were first developed for use in modern dance, but are now used in the arts to diminish the presence of an actor in a scene. In fact, in the traditional Japanese art of puppetry called bunraku the apprentice performers are completely covered in black garments against a black background to produce the same effect.
Artists also use these suits as a medium to accentuate the body, sometimes making use of vibrant patterns. By making the performer anonymous, the performance of the body itself becomes the focus. Ponder about this for your next competition or synchronised swim. Just make sure you can breathe.
The suits are also finding a place as a useful tool for meditation.
It can provide a medium for body awareness, a focus for meditation via the senses
by allowing for both sensory deprivation as well as sensory enhancement,
as well as a symbolic barrier between the self and the world.
Frankly, it is kind of refreshing.
For the most part, this has not yet touched the western world.