The National Geographic Society is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its magazine publication and TV channel cover a wide range of topics, including geography, archaeology, natural science, anthropology and technology. The institution is known to strongly promote environmental and historical conservation, and the study and appreciation of culture from all over the globe. The National Geographic Society’s logo is a yellow rectangular portrait frame, which appears as margins on the front covers of its magazines and as its television channel logo.
Since 2015, National Geographic's media properties, including its flagship magazine, have been operated under the joint venture National Geographic Partners, which was majority owned by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, with National Geographic Society maintaining a minority interest. In 2019, Fox sold its stake in National Geographic Partners, along with the majority of its entertainment properties, to Disney, who plan to make National Geographic a major provider for content on their Disney+ service.
Tropes in National Geographic include:
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: This◊ infamous front-page article. The cover asks "Was Darwin wrong?" and the first inside page states "No."
- Diamonds in the Buff: One issue had a picture of a belt with huge gemstone beads and a quote from its creator, stating that he "imagined a woman emerging from the ocean wearing this belt and nothing else".
- Mysterious Waif: Real Life Mysterious Waif Sharbat Gula, called the Afghan Girl. She was photographed in an Afghan refugee camp. At the time the picture was taken, the photographer didn't know her name, and in 2002, she was successfully located and formally identified. Her photograph is the most recognized in National Geographic history.note
- National Geographic Nudity: The trope namer. There were frequent articles about tribes of people who wore little to no clothing and many people remember the photography of topless women that went with those articles.
The media studies work Reading National Geographic found that, aside from choosing to represent areas of the world with images that reinforce specific themes (the Pacific islands are idyllic, East Asia is eccentric and a decade behind the times, African children smile when doing backbreaking labor, etc.), what nudity is permitted in National Geographic depends on who's doing it. African, Native American, and other "primitive" people get their naughty bits published, while European vacationers on a nude beach don't. And in a strange case of Race Lift, persons with borderline skin tones will have their skin darkened in order to be acceptably nude."When I was an adolescent, the only reliable source of breast visuals was National Geographic, a magazine then devoted, as far as I can tell, to doing feature articles on every primitive tribe in the world in which the women went around topless. When I was in junior high school, my friends and I were extremely interested in these articles, specifically the photographs that had captions like "A young woman of the Mbonga tribe prepares supper using primitive implements." We would spend long periods of time staring at the young woman's implements, and we'd wonder how come we'd had the incredibly bad luck of being born in the one society in the entire world (judging from National Geographic) wherein women wore a lot of clothes."
- Shirley Template: An article about Los Angeles in the January 1979 issue shows a group of celebrity impersonators, among them a child performer dressed up like Shirley Temple.