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Seashell Bra
Bivalves are a girl's best friend.

Mimic: By th' way, nice seashells.
Siren: They're just B-shells, but thanks.

For some reason, mermaids feel compelled to fashion bras for themselves out of seashells, even though they never bother making any other kind of clothing. Although this provides Fanservice and Fetish Fuel, it was originally created for the reverse reason. Logically (as in, using the same logic that would apply to humans *cough*), a mermaid would be an Innocent Fanservice Girl, but we can't have that in a kids' movie, can we?

Since, by definition, a mermaid is a fish from the waist down, only her top half must be covered, and often Godiva Hair just won't do. Thus the seashell bra was invented to preserve the modesty of female merfolk everywhere. You probably think this originated with Disney's The Little Mermaid, but Disney was using it all the way back in 1953 to depict the mermaids in Peter Pan (although they looked distinctly less bra-like in those days). Expect bras to also be made out of other marine trappings, such as starfish (though glomping a living creature to one's own body doesn't sound like a good idea in hindsight — especially if it ejects its stomach and starts digesting your nipples) or perhaps seaweed or other vague underwater flora, though the shells are often depicted as somehow clinging magically without any accompanying harnesses or straps, seaweed or otherwise. Also, the bra will almost always be made from scallop shells rather than clam, oyster, conch, or nautilus shells (not unless they are hollowed out).

Of course, not every culture shares the notion that the sight of female nipples somehow corrupts children, hence the Japanese animated version'' of the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale features bare-chested mermaids. It's also possible to avert the whole issue entirely by making the "fish-parts" ascend all the way to the bustline and mimick a one-piece swimsuit or a strapless dress as Disney did with Ursula.

Provides additional proof (if any were necessary) that most writers are either male or sufficiently unimaginative to be unable to envision just how uncomfortable such attire would be. Or both.

A Sub-Trope of Improvised Clothes. Compare Fur Bikini, Bare Your Midriff.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch takes Color-Coded for Your Convenience to the extreme, so of course, mermaids always have seashell bras that match their tails. They do, however, wear other kinds of clothing at times, such as skirts, but these are purely ceremonial, and usually a mermaid is depicted in only the shell bra.
  • Somewhat related example from Love Hina: Having found an oasis after getting lost in the middle of the desert, Naru makes improvised bikinis for herself and Nyamo (and then later, Shinobu, whose clothes had been destroyed by one of Motoko's sword techniques) out of giant leaves. Not explained is why Kitsune put Motoko in the exact same type of outfit when they were still in civilization. This also allows a "trap" that unleashes caterpillars to be somewhat threatening, in a way.
  • One Piece
    • Sanji has some Imagine Spots of gorgeous sirens wearing Seashell Bras, but it's averted when they meet an actual mermaid, who wears a T-shirt.
    • Gonk mermaid Kokoro, on the other hand, does wear a Seashell Bra. One person asked if they really were seashells — Oda's initial response: "Does 'I don't want to think about it' count as an answer?"
    • Also, a few of the younger mermaids, especially the dancers, do. It's just not normal mermaid clothing.
  • In Dragon Ball too, when Goku brings a mermaid to Kame-Sennin, she wears a T-shirt (but doesn't look wet). While the possibility of a wet T-shirt would certainly have held great potential for Fanservice, this occurred quite early in the series when that sort of thing was only done sporadically.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Red Archery Girl and Toon Mermaid have these, although the English version of Red Archery Girl gives her an extra bit of cloth to wear under her bra.
  • Shows up in a dream/hallucinatory sequence in Kaleido Star. Dream Mermaid!Sora gets this to a T (well, the current performance is The Little Mermaid). She also seems a bit more... ample in this sequence.
  • San the mermaid Yakuza Princess from Seto no Hanayome wears this in her first appearance.
  • Lampshaded in Kamichama Karin, in which Kazune points out, "How do those stay on?"
  • Misty from Pokémon wears a pink one whenever she plays the Magical Mermaid. In her case it's probably just a costume that looks like seashells and probably not too uncomfortable. At least not as uncomfortable as performing an underwater play bare-breasted.
  • Seria from Rave Master has an interesting variation: she wears a bikini top... with a shell motif.
  • Galaxy Angel 3rd (manga) has the girls turned into mermaids at one point, complete with Seashell Bra.
  • In an episode of the Ranma ˝ anime, during an Eye Catch showing Akane as a mermaid, she wears a pink Seashell Bra.
  • Guu from Jungle wa Itsumo Hare nochi Guu wears one during the Beach Episode.
  • There is an episode of Maicchingu Machiko Sensei in which a male teacher imagines the main character as a mermaid with the obligatory seashell bikini.
  • In book 10 of the Urusei Yatsura manga, both Lum and Shinobu are disguised as mermaids and wear seashell bras.
  • Towards the end of the Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt episode "If Angels Wore Swimsuits", Panty's bikini becomes ripped by a Giant Crab Ghost and falls off. Unfortunately for all the onlooking male beach-goers, two Mini-Starfish Ghosts and a Sea Anemone Ghost jump up and latch onto her in just the right places.
  • In the filler Beach Episode of The Familiar of Zero, the girls punish the boys for being perverts by beating them up, tying them up, and forcing them to wear seashell bikinis. Later, when they think they are alone, the girls try on the seashell bikinis and find wearing them fun. Saito manages to spy on them.

    Comedy 
  • Featured in a joke by comedian Ron White:
    Ron White: I didn't know this. If you find a girl wearing a seashell bra, and you pick her up, and put her to your ear, you can hear her scream. I thought I'd hear the ocean, but not over that bitch.

    Comic Books 
  • Issues drawn be Adam Hughes (and some other artists about the same time) of the Legion of Super-Heroes and Legionnaires comics have had seashell bras (and bottoms) indicating nudity (simply assume they aren't there, then the characters' reactions make sense).
  • In the comic book Boneyard, one of the local Universal-like monsters is a female version of the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon. Nessie, as she's called, covers her monstrous Non-Mammal Mammaries with tiny seashell pasties. She also wears actual fishnet stockings.
  • The Blue, a fictional underwater race from the Fathom comics, make all clothing up to full body armor using bits of underwater flora and fauna. Despite them also having far more advanced technology than surface dwellers.
  • The mermaid encountered by Superboy (a sort of next-gen Lori Lemaris) in Adventure Comics 80 Page Giant. Post-Crisis Lori herself sometimes wears a normal bikini top, but more often has Godiva Hair. Pre Crisis Lori wore something resembling a blouse or minidress at all times.
  • When Namorita, Distaff Counterpart of the Sub-Mariner, turned blue and changed her name to Kymera, she added a net skirt and one seashell "cup" to her bikini-like outfit.
  • In one issue of Katy Keene, Katy and Sis are mermaids wearing these.
  • Sun from Pocket God wears one.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Madagascar, when Gloria washes ashore, she has two starfish on her chest (beside the fact that there is nothing there to cover) and a crab on her crotch (make of that what you will).
  • Interesting variation in Disney's Fantasia, with female centaurs wearing tops and necklaces made out of flowers that appear to be motivated more by the Theiss Titillation Theory than actual modesty, even though the centauresses otherwise exhibit Barbie Doll Anatomy...
  • The Little Mermaid of course, though Ariel is unusual in that her top has a strap. Ursula has octopus flesh go over her chest instead, though. Some people think the overweight mermaid illusion seen in Ursula's song has her chest covered by scales, but looking closely reveals she too wears a Seashell Bra.
  • Before The Little Mermaid there was Peter Pan, whose mermaids sported a motley mix of Godiva Hair, seashell bras, and starfish pasties.
  • The title character of Paprika wears one while briefly in mermaid form.
  • In Coraline, The Other Forcible wears one dressed as Venus. She's an obese old lady.

    Films — Live Action 
  • This trope and its aversion was one of the reasons a mermaid character was cut completely from Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. She was played by a 15-year-old actress who would have had Godiva Hair. Probably not suitable for a family film.
  • The mermaids in Hook have seashells held in place with straps. Though the green-haired one's breasts are just barely covered.
  • The Disney Channel Made For TV Movie The Thirteenth Year has the protagonist's mermaid mother wearing two conch shells over her breasts.
  • The three mermaid sisters in Mermaids normally have their breasts covered by natural scales but whenever Venus performs in the club — doing a seductive dance "dressed" as a mermaid — she wears a seashell bra.

    Literature 
  • Not a mermaid, but in I was a Teenage T. rex, one of the leads becomes a Leptoceratops, and despite not having anything to cover she didn't feel comfortable going naked. She tries sticking leaves on with sap — they fall off. The Quetzalcoatlus character takes pity on her and makes a top-and-bottom out of seashells with holes poked in them and strung together by vines; these last a little longer.
  • In an early scene from Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil, Eunice and her husband are discussing the mermaid body paint she'll be wearing to work the next day. (Office dress codes having gotten really casual in the future.) They make a bet over whether a literally painted-on Seashell Bra will fool her employer into thinking it's real. (It does.)
  • The Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelization "Age of Aquariums" (in which Sabrina transforms herself into a mermaid) features a cover picture of Sabrina wearing a seashell bra. The book itself doesn't state whether she wears one or not.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Faerie Tale Theatre's adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" used an interesting scheme: if a mermaid was out of the water (like sitting on the beach for instance), she had Godiva Hair, whereas while she was underwater (and thus her hair would be floating around and unable to do its Godiva Hair function), she had a Seashell Bra, or more specifically, two scallop shells stuck to her chest with no straps whatever, not even one connecting the two shells.
  • The mermaids in Charmed have a variation where their breasts are covered by strategically-placed scales. Worth noting is that the hair of the actresses playing mermaids was too short to function as Godiva Hair.
  • Mermaids in H2O: Just Add Water have scales in exactly the same pattern as a bra, complete with straps, with a brae midriff between that and the scales of their tails. Mermen are bare chested.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The 2nd edition Monstrous Manual depicts an aquatic elf in a Seashell Bra and a mermaid in something a little scalier.
  • The Orotheans in Magi-Nation play this trope straight.

    Theater 
  • The Lady of the Lake from Spamalot wears a seashell bra over a long gown.

    Video Games 
  • The Neireid queen in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters.
  • The Pokémon Gorebyss appears to have one even though it isn't remotely humanoid.
  • Used in King's Quest II; Graham has to charm a merwoman that's sunning herself on Kolyma's shore.
  • Dead or Alive
    • Helena's Godfather bikini (and its pallette swaps) from Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 is this... though its so small it's more like Seashell PASTIES...
    • Her "Ultimate Sexy Costume" DLC in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate edition, which largely resembles the above bikini.
  • AnticEnt's online Kingdoms CCG has the elemental hero Jorma, who wears starfish on her breasts because she's just that badass.
  • Anneta Fish from Rayman Origins wears a clamshell pasty that somehow sticks to her breasts.
  • In Lollipop Chainsaw, a seashell bikini is an alternate skin Juliet Starling can wear.

    Web Animation 
  • Subverted in somewhat disturbing fashion by guro manga artist Shintaro Kago. Watch at your own risk.
  • Homestar Runner: In one Strong Bad E-mail, SB nicknames a cardboard cutout of a mermaid Princess Shellbra.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Asked about on deviantART, "The Mermaid Problem". Considers the theory if females are born with it, and if not, how they measure cup/clam size. Also deconstructs it by asking why Mermaids wearing dead clams as their bras if they are friends with fish.
  • Clamshelle is the only one so far wearing a seashelle bra, the other ones usually wear flowers or something akin to a bathing suit top, like Sing or Oyster

    Western Animation 
  • AndrAIa from ReBoot is a bit more modest than the typical mermaid (at least at first), wearing one gigantic scallop shell that covers her entire torso. After the Timeskip she gets a more Stripperific outfit with a bra that appears to be made out of some kind of fish skin.
  • The Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie" has a seashell speedo on a reverse mer-man: he's a fish on the top, and a man on the bottom.
  • Subverted during both episodes of The Backyardigans that have mermaids, "Viking Voyage" and "Into the Deep". During those episodes, Tasha and Uniqua are mermaids (well, Uniqua just in the latter), but their tails cover the entire torso, so they don't need seashell bras.
  • Fan Disservice/Parody: SpongeBob SquarePants' superhero parody Mermaid Man has a pair of shells over his completely round torso, despite the Aquaman-esque orange scale shirt he also wears.
    • Later on in the series, when they do show actual mermaids, they wear a bra with seashells on it, which can be seen here
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Heloise wears one during a Dream Sequence where she's a mermaid.
  • In Regular Show, during Mordecai's dream sequence in the episode "Meat Your Maker", he envisions Margaret wearing one that just ''barely'' covers her lady pecs.
  • Angel in Fish Police.
  • Inverted in an episode of Futurama, where Fry's mermaid fiancee wears a tube-top.
  • Bloom in Winx Club has one of her bikinis with this.
  • Daphne and Miyumi wind up wearing these when they are captured by the natives in Scooby-Doo! and the Samurai Sword.
  • Smurfette in The Smurfs episode "Sassette's Bewitching Friendship" wore one when Melina the good witch accidentally changed her into a mermaid.

    Real Life 
  • Many companies that make swimwear have marketed actual bikinis with tops like this. Such swimwear tends to be very expensive, and usually isn't the type you should actually swim in.
  • Raina the Halifax Mermaid wears a seashell bra during most of her appearances, but in later days has started wearing one made from an octopus. According to her, little kids were fascinated by it (not in that way!), poking it to see if it was real (it isn't).


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