So Why Clothes?

So if nudity is nothing to be ashamed of. If it is natural and unshocking, then why clothes?

Warmth is usually the first suggestion.

But Charles Darwin was a very clever man and he seems to have proved this a myth.

He travelled off to Tierra Del Fuego in southern Argentina and found that, although the temperatures were freezing, man had adjusted.

They built a few wind shields and went on with their daily lives. They seem to have decorated themselves in bizarre ways for initiation ceremonies, but otherwise not bothered.

As an experiment, Darwin gave them some red cloth. I would have loved to have seen their faces when the Fuegians cut up the fabric into little strips and used it only for decorative purposes despite the cold.

Protection is the second suggestion. And that seems to be true. Primitive races were always at risk of extinction and therefore not only worshiped fertility, but also protected genitals from any kind of accident. Dangling bits of rope, beads or feathers swung around and warded off insects. Egyptians used linen and oils to protect skin from sun. Aboriginal tribes seem, like the Fuegians, to have simply adjusted.

Sir Charles Pickering travelled to Tahiti and realised his Victorian attire was completely unsuited to the tropical sporadic rain. He remained almost constantly damp as opposed to the naked Polynesians. He wrote, “The Polynesians never had colds until they began to wear clothes.”

Arthur Grimbal introduced clothing to the Gilbert and Ellis islands and noted the according rise in vermin, dirt and all kinds of parasite.


There are many other reasons for wearing clothes – symbolic status, religious, even chimpanzees love decorating themselves – but Grimbal also noted that, in his experience, introducing clothing also introduced “a nasty curiosity which never before existed.”

Covering something simply creates an anticipation and an excitement for when it is finally seen. And any part of the body can be made a sexual part. Attractiveness is also usually associated with hinting at something without actually blatantly exposing it. A woman wearing something sheer is usually seen as more sexual than one wearing nothing.

Post black death- when population was down- it seems women started wearing quite sheer and tight clothing to encourage men to help repopulate.


So are we again reduced by Darwin from our moral, cultural high ground back to simple animal instinct? Do our dear clothes become no more than a very cleverly opposable thumb created version of a peacock’s tail?



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