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Our Nudity Is Different

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"Dude! Can you cover yourself up first?"
"I hate to break it to you, but you're going to start panics going around with naked hands."
Nirai Kujen, Revenant Gun, The Machineries of Empire

This trope is for those characters that have a notably different definition of "private parts" than most of the audience.

Different cultures have different ideas about what parts of the body can or cannot be shown, or even discussed. For some people on this Earth, even a woman's face or hair must not be exposed, while for others, you can be topless as long as you keep your shins covered (a girl has to have modesty, after all!), and in still others a small loincloth is all that's required. Then there's the characters in Fantasy/Sci-Fi settings who may be outright scandalized if they discover their orthoblaxer (whatever that means) is showing.

May overlap with Fantastic Arousal. A Super-Trope of Fully-Clothed Nudity, and Sub-Trope of Your Normal Is Our Taboo. See also Old-Timey Ankle Taboo, where it focuses on exposed ankles, and It's Not Porn, It's Art for when nudity in art causes differing ideas about which are explicit and which are not. Supertrope to Appropriate Animal Attire, which discusses what count as nudity for anthropomorphic animals.


Please do not add real life examples unless historical or otherwise well-documented.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In A Bride's Story, seeing a grown woman's hair uncovered by a headdress is shocking and provocative.
  • Mermaids in A Centaur's Life go around topless unless they are expecting visitors from the mountains or need to wear ritual garments. Otherwise the only thing they wear is a g-string tied at the sides over their bottom half. The manga even makes use of the Theiss Titillation Theory, as a pair of boys are more enthralled by a bikini model's picture than topless girls right in front of them.
  • In Bladedance of Elementalers, the hero's elemental, Est, considers her thighs and legs to be the only private regions of her body. She'll remove all her clothing without a second thought, but suggestions that she remove her knee-high stockings will bring immediate reprisal for perversion, and in some cases death threats.
  • According to Otonashi-san's mother in High School Ninja Girl, Otonashi-san, taking off a kunoichi's mask is the same as taking off her underwear. This gets Arima into hot water when she walks in on an Accidental Pervert moment during which Otonashi's mask fell off (revealing a cold mask underneath).
  • Played With in My Hero Academia—Toru Hagakure is an Invisible Streaker who is usually somewhere between an Innocent or Shameless Fanservice Girl, but at one point asks Mashirao to not watch her actually take off her clothes... which at this point consisted of only shoes and gloves, anyway.
  • In Monster Musume, Miia is terribly embarrassed when Kimihito sees her shedding her skin. When Kimihito points out he's seen her naked and she was fine with that, Miia points out that for Lamia, shedding your skin is more embarrassing than simple nudity.
  • In Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Kanoe Yuuko has no problem with her ghostly body being seen naked, but when her love interest finds her actual corpse she insists that he cover up the skeleton immediately and calls him a pervert for not doing so. Apparently a skeleton is as naked as you can get.
  • Seton Academy: Join the Pack!: Naked mole rats, as their name implies, prefer to be naked whenever possible and, in private, are regularly seen in just their underwear. Consequently, they view wearing clothing as humiliating as others would find being naked to the point where class president Miki Hadano sees other students' clothing in Pixellation and wonders how they can let themselves be seen in all their shame like that.


    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • In one strip set in The Gay '90s, Archie has this reaction to a swimsuit that bares Veronica's... shoulders.
    • Another, set in the 1800's, has Betty and Veronica nearly arrested for wearing men's swimwear — a t-shirt and knee-length trunks combo.
    • When Betty and Veronica, in a story, meet their old version of the '50s (through the Memory Lane), Veronica is called out by the two girls for her "skimpy" outfit that bares her midriff.
  • When she first joins the Runaways, Klara, an immigrant from the 1900s, expresses shock at her female teammates baring their shoulders; throughout her early adventures with the team, her arms are frequently covered, either with full sleeves or a cape. Later, she adopts sleeveless dresses herself... but also spends a lot more time sulking.
  • In All-Star Superman, the Kryptonian astronauts Bar-El and Lilo-El wear suits that cover their whole bodies, and Bar is disgusted when, in order to save Lilo from a fall that might have killed her, Superman catches her, touching her with his uncovered hands.
  • In John Byrne's The Man of Steel, Kryptonian society near the end of the planet's life is so repressed that, when Lara views images of Earth, she freaks out when she sees a field worker (possibly Jonathan Kent) not wearing a shirt.
  • In a "The Lighter Side of..." strip by MAD Magazine's Dave Berg, a young man is girl-watching at the beach when he starts musing on why certain body parts are 'sexy'. He begins wondering what a society that fetishized noses would be like, and gets so wrapped up in his 'what-if?' scenario that he starts ogling a woman with a bandage over the bridge of her nose, much to his friend's disgust.

    Comic Strips 
  • Back in the sixties, Mort Walker was told he wasn't allowed to show bellybuttons in Hi and Lois. He protested by featuring a box of navel oranges.
    • The same story is told about Beetle Bailey, also by Mort Walker.

    Fan Works 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction occasionally sexualize certain outfits (socks, wet manes, themed costumes like maid dresses, actual lingerie) even though the ponies are otherwise completely naked by default.
  • Changeling Courtship Rituals has Queen Chrysalis questioning the point of strippers when ponies are usually naked anyway. Pinkie Pie explains that "It's not what they're not wearing, but how they take it off."
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami has Keeper Mercury's outfit being too much for most people in the Dungeon Keeper world, since they consider her skirt to be too short for a girl her age.
  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, the Psyches view Smurfs as "savages" due to the male Smurfs constantly exposing their torsos, which is why the Psyches themselves wear bodysuits that cover everything but their heads. The Smurfs themselves see nakedness as simply not wearing a hat, which leads to their "getting under each other's hat" ritual that Empath and Smurfette engage in in "Empath's Honeymoon" when they consummate their marriage together, particularly since a male Smurf's bald head is considered an erogenous zone.
  • The War of the Masters: It's explained at least once (in The Burning Of Beruns World) that Orions consider it taboo for religious reasons to go about clothed beyond a Chainmail Bikini (for women; men are allowed to cover more skin but not by much) without life or death need (i.e. they make an exception for environment suits and body armor). Damojena "D'Moj" Massana, an Orion who adopted aspects of Klingon culture in rebellion against her own, deliberately wears clothing that covers her up to her neck at all times.
  • A surprisingly common bit of fanon for works centered around Sonic the Hedgehog with its furrier cast. Apparently pants, shirts and the like are optional, but an anthro is only considered naked if lacking shoes and gloves. A good example would Sonic Eggs where Sonic is horrified their human hosts remove Clone Shadow's gloves and shoes in the presence of ladies Amy and Cream.
  • In The Rise of Darth Vulcan, Vulcan in nonplussed by the concept of the usually-nudist ponies wearing lingere. He's met with the reply "what's the fun of a Hearts-and-Hooves present without the fancy wrapping to tear off?"
  • In Splint, Orcs and Men of Gondor have very different views on nudity. Rukhash thinks nothing of walking about with only a loincloth on, which Cadoc is positively mortified about. When Rukhash figures out why he's embarrassed, she finds it both confusing and hilarious.
  • In Flag Flying High, Lan Sizhui is very flustered by the possibility of taking his headband off — since his sect only allows it in the strictest intimacy. He has the same reaction when he fantasizes about seeing his crush with his hair flowing free — something done in bed — and reacts to Harry wearing jeans and a t-shirt as if the other boy was wandering in his undergarments, only calming when Harry also puts robes on.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Great Race (set in 1908), Maggie DuBois daringly exposes her stockings to the newspaper editor, Mr. Goodbody.
  • The Hour of the Pig: It's accurately shown that Renaissance Europeans had a very casual attitude to nudity, even with the opposite sex. Men and women are seen bathing freely in the bathhouse. Courtois even discusses this with the village priest, who's in a tub with him, asking about its morality. The priest replies that it's only immoral if the person is your close relative, like a sister (he then gets distracted as a nude nun walks by).
  • The French film Les Visiteurs starts with the King of France meeting his secret lover, an English noblewoman, in a barn, and begging her to show him something before they part. She lifts up her long skirt a bit... to show him her ankles. The king treats the sight as if she just flashed him. The American remake (with the two protagonists being played by the same actors) doesn't have this scene. Counterintuitively, there was no particular nudity taboo in the Middle Ages. Conduct was another matter.
  • In Star Wars continuity, the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine have a taboo about showing any part of their unclothed bodies to anyone except their mates (and even then, it's done in private), or some midwives when they're born (parents don't even see their children naked). If anyone else ever sees a Tusken Raider's face, he will make it his lifelong quest to kill that person, and not stop until he has succeeded or he himself is dead.
  • Claudette Colbert famously pulled up her skirt to bare her knee and thigh in It Happened One Night (1934) as a way to hitch-hike a car. While not exactly nudity for the time, it was suggestive enough to stop traffic!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has a male character ecstatic at seeing a woman's ankles. Meanwhile, Jack is disappointed at not seeing more. Of course, having been with many women, he's presumably less impressed by ankles alone.
  • In The Wrong Box set in the Victorian era, Michael Caine does some furniture-moving, rolling up his sleeve enough to reveal his wrist. Nanette Newman is so overcome by this that she faints on the sofa, revealing her stocking-clad ankle, which in turn sends Michael Caine's character into paroxysms of desire.
  • Ophelia removes all her clothes save for a long-sleeved shift that reaches her ankles to go swimming. By most modern Western standards she's overdressed to go swimming, but given this is medieval Denmark, she's essentially in her underwear and the characters react accordingly. When Hamlet and Horatio stumble across her, she and Horatio are quite embarrassed, while Hamlet becomes flirty with her; she chides him for staring and then starts flirting back by slowly rising out of the water. She refuses to get out of the water until they're not looking and then sprints away, clutching her gown over herself.

  • In the Ancillary Justice series, the Radchaai have a taboo regarding showing one's hands/arms in public and therefore go around in long gloves. Consequently, Radchaai find it erotic to watch performers playing string instruments either gloveless or wearing very thin gloves (essentially their equivalent of Vapor Wear). In a more intimate setting, walking around with one glove is like walking around in your underwear.
  • In Animorphs, Ax (a blue, four-legged alien) comments that humans use clothing to cover the parts they consider "inappropriate" but they hide the wrong bits. According to Ax, there is nothing as ugly as a human nose.
  • In the Apprentice Adept series, serfs on Proton are required to go naked at almost all times, and thus, for one serf to conceal their intimate regions from another is considered a racy act. Protective wear is allowed for the jobs that need it, and if it's part of one of the Games... but that's it. Once you're done, clothes off.
  • In A Brother's Price people are somewhat relaxed about female nudity; for example the protagonist stripping off the wet clothes of an unconscious, injured woman seems to be no big deal. He has to be chaperoned, though, for which purpose a couple of female toddlers seem to be enough. Male nudity heavily depends on whether the man's sisters are present — in public, a man should be veiled, but a group of tailors are allowed to see him in his underwear, with his older sisters present at all times.
  • The Brightest Shadow: Used along the lines of real world variants. Some cultures consider pants wildly inappropriate for women, others insist on the torso being entirely covered, and the Rhen are considered scandalous by many despite their clothes seeming normal to most western readers.
  • In Frederik Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats novel, which concerns the interaction of multiple alternate timelines, one such timeline involves the USA being dominated by extreme moral conservatives (due, it seems bizarrely, to the influence of the wealthy Arabs who dominate world affairs). In which even men are not allowed to wear topless bathing costumes — they must resort to the Old-Timey Bathing Suit, something which the main character only dares try to remove when no-one else is looking.
  • In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, Getans gradually decorate their skin with scars and tattoos. Scarred skin can be freely displayed in public, but showing unmodified skin is considered titillating and/or scandalous. The Liethe clan leave their skin unmodified, both for sex appeal, and to disguise the fact that they make heavy use of cloning.
  • In The Curse Workers trilogy, dangerous magic that requires direct contact between the magic user's hand and the target's skin has led to the custom of wearing gloves at all times. This custom has been in place for so long that bare hands are regarded as indecent and titillating even if their owner is not a magic user and baring one's hands in another person's presence is a show of supreme intimacy.
  • In the Darkness Series, the hot desert country of Zuwayza has no nudity taboo, its people usually going naked except for sandals and a wide-brimmed hat. Ambassadors of other countries there naturally find this a bit disquieting, though one from the kingdom of Algarve "goes native" and sometimes turns up to meetings naked... and the Zuwayzi find this disquieting because all Algarvians are circumcised, not a custom they have ever used.
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels, women commonly wear their hair in butterfly clips so as not to expose the nape of the neck, which would be indecent.
  • In the Destroyermen series:
    • The Mi-anaaka deem toplessness for females acceptable. Actually, their sense of modesty is almost nonexistent, and the main indecency is going without a kilt after puberty.
    • After the Destroyermen reach New Britain, they see that it is the norm for those with "indentures" to have no clothing on, and is very rarely seen in a sexual light.
  • Discworld:
    • In The Last Hero, we're told there is a religion in Ankh-Morpork which prohibits women from showing their ears, lest they inflame the passions of men.
    • In Unseen Academicals, the wizards are adamant they can't wear shorts that expose their knees, for fear of the effect this might have on women. The one woman who hears this has trouble keeping a straight face.
    • This prudishness seems to be entirely confined to the presence of women, however — in Night Watch Discworld, the Archchancellor is completely oblivious as to why another wizard thinks he's "inappropriately dressed" after hurriedly getting out of the bath — he's wearing his hat, after all, and that's what matters. Although that's only around other (male) wizards — when an actual woman enters the scene, he hastily requisitions another hat to cover himself with.
    • In Making Money, the University's golem-expert is titillated by the prospect of relocating to a place where he'll actually be able to see women's ankles. Presumably it's lucky that he's already a ghost, else he'd have keeled over with heart failure upon actually entering the Pink Pussycat Club....
    • Trolls consider near-nudity to be the norm; it's when a troll woman starts putting clothes on that she's singled out as provocatively-dressed. Troll "robers" from the Strippers' Guild actually put on layer after layer of clothing during their acts. (Their view on time also may play a small part: The past is 'ahead', since you can "see" it, and the future is 'behind' you, since you can't. So someone putting clothes on, from past to future, would be viewed in a future-to-past way as...)
  • In Hellspark by Janet Kagan, the Janisetti consider the feet to be a private part; walking around with no shoes on can get a person arrested for public indecency.
  • In Robert J. Sawyer's novel, Illegal Alien, the aliens are given a different view on the taboo than humans as to emphasize their otherness. One of the two groups of aliens which make first contact in the novel posses a taboo against internal anatomy, believing that the guts are not to be shown to the world because they are held within. By contrast, they hold no qualms about nudity or sexuality in any manner. This is emphasized greatly in a trial scene in which an alien is asked to explain their anatomy to the court, and they proceed to have great troubles bringing himself to do so, while he has no trouble explaining or demonstrating the nature of their sexuality and, in fact, expresses confusion over the human tendency to hide it. The latter stems from the fact that their females have four uteruses, and thus usually mate with four males in succession.
  • Famously John Carter of Mars has the Martians wear little to nothing save for harnesses to hang their weapons and pouches to carry other items, and the occasional jewelry. The artwork on covers and such that show them with loincloths and barely-there nipple coverings on women is adding clothing. Barsoom culture, simply does not care.
  • Kris Longknife:
    • Defiant: Kris attends a festival on the Hikilan islands, which are ethnic Polynesian, in native garb. Which for her as a "virgin" (i.e. an unmarried woman) means lots of body paint, flower garlands around her waist to cover her privates, and nothing else.
    • The vacation of choice for the Alwan humans is a beachfront resort where no clothing is required at all. Except in the dinner pavilion, where there's a sign posted saying "no total nudity" (i.e. cover your genitals, anything else goes).
    • In addition to this, maneuvering at high gravities with clothes on tends to result in painful bruises from fasteners and medals, so ship crew at Alwa Station customarily enter their high-g stations nude. Consequently, after spending several years on Alwa, in the sequel series Kris, Abby, and various other people attached to the United Society mission to the Iteeche think very little of swimming nude with their various children in the embassy swimming pool.
  • In the Liaden Universe series, Liadens consider the face to be a private area; showing it in public is unavoidable, but touching it or drawing attention to it is impolite, as is looking too long at another person's. (Wearing a mask counts as drawing attention, in the same class as wearing decorative make-up.) The Liaden language has a lot of emphasis on hand gestures and other body language to convey the information that Terrans use facial expression for; showing any facial expression in public is another impoliteness. Touching another person's face is an extremely intimate act; there are several instances in the series of Liadens being surprised by how quickly Terrans escalate to kissing, which a Liaden couple wouldn't even consider before they were married (and possibly not even after.)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha:
    • Sayuri explains that geisha generally do not go out without their makeup on, so to leave just a little bit of bare skin unpainted at the hairline is a very suggestive thing indeed, hinting at what lies beneath. Additionally, necks are considered very attractive and a geisha will wear a kimono with a low collar in the back in the same way a Western woman would wear a short skirt.
    • Mameha teaches Sayuri that the same theory applies to wrists, when pulling the sleeve back slightly to pour tea.
  • In The Monster Baru Cormorant, about a century ago, when Falcrest was ruled by kings, there was a taboo on bare calves. Our Nudity Is Different is invoked, as this is brought up in comparison to contemporary Kyprananoke not attaching any obscenity to topless women: nudity is a matter of culture, and going around shirtless in the island heat and humidity of Kyprananoke is just sensible dress.
  • In one of AP Herbert's More Misleading Cases in the Common Law, when a man is charged with indecency for entering the sea wearing the "wrong" sort of swimsuit, a judge goes into a bit of a rant about this, contrasting the 19th century definition of "indecency" used by the municipal council with a more liberal 1920s definition:
    Mr Justice Wool: Stuff and nonsense, constable! The male torso is not indecent. If it is hairy it may be unattractive: but so is the male foot. So is your face; but the Council cannot compel you to drape it. A lady's back is not indecent: it may be attractive, but so are a lady's eyes. The act says "indecency" not "allure". My father wore nothing but drawers. So did I.
  • The Mr. Men rarely wear much clothing, being Living Polyhedrons, but Mr. Bump is embarrassed when Little Miss Naughty swipes his bandages.
  • The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov takes place on Solaria, a planet with such a small population that individuals rarely ever come into direct contact with another human and they communicate only by holographic messenger systems. While they consider nudity in person to be inappropriate, they have no problem with nudity over The Alternet. This causes some humorous misunderstandings when Earth detective Elijah Bailey comes to investigate a murder.
  • In The Night Angel Trilogy, Sethi consider showing ankles to be obscene but have no problem showing breasts. In fact, Sethi wedding dresses are almost more like wedding skirts from the description. Sethi who spend too long living away from home often have trouble readjusting their standards of modesty.
  • Played for Deliberate Values Dissonance in The Poisonwood Bible. Kilanga women hide their legs under long skirts and think nothing of going topless. Missionary Nathan Price is shocked by their indecency; the Kilanga are similarly shocked by Mrs. Price wearing pants.
  • In Robertson Davies' The Rebel Angels, Maria and her mother host a dinner party for purposes of ensnaring Clement Hollis, whom Maria is in love with. Mamusia instructs her daughter to wear a low-cut top — they're Romani, so while their legs must be covered, cleavage is just fine.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Qartheen women habitually wear gowns that leave one breast bare.
  • In Stephen King's The Stand, 108-year-old Abagail Freemantle remembers appearing on a talent show back in 1902. Before her, a woman performed a "racy French dance", showing her ankles.
  • Star Carrier: It's not uncommon for holograms to be used in lieu of clothing at public events (presumably, nanoimplants control any leakage). In fact, it's equally acceptable for holographic uniforms to be used even in the military. Nudity is perfectly acceptable among friends, whether they want to have sex or not. The only people who feel weird about it are those born on the Periphery (former coastal cities that have been flooded by global warming and a Colony Drop). They still cling to "outdated" ideas like monogamy.
  • This is also seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Masks (not to be confused with the episode). The heroes had to improvise with Halloween masks. The part where the rebel leader shows her face to Picard is played as a romantically charged moment.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, the Breen Confederacy consists of multiple races who wear identical environmental suits to ensure everyone is treated equally. As a result, any uncovered skin (or fur, or liquid surface, or whatever) is taboo.
  • As Hildy Johnson, the protagonist of John Varley's Steel Beach points out, nudity may be entirely practical in Luna's sealed environments but since it's the default human condition it's considered boring, conservative and unfashionable. Most people wear some clothing as a means of personal expression and all professions have some uniform, item, badge, or hat denoting guild membership. Some people just like having pockets to carry things in.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • The cultures based on the Vorin religion consider a woman with her left hand, called the "safehand" bare to be provocative. Commoner women wear a glove to cover it while noblewomen wear dresses with left sleeves that cover the entire arm and hand, buttoned shut. Using it for basically anything at all is considered a breach of propriety, and even touching someone with their clothed left hand is considered a very intimate gesture. Men have no such restrictions.
      Tyn: It's just a hand, Shallan. Storms, you Vorins are so prim. That hand looks exactly like your other hand.
    • The tradition is based on the concept that anything feminine can be done with one hand (such as writing, painting, and research/science). It's implied a few times that this tradition was created to keep women from using Shardblades, which impossibly lightweight for their size, but still require two hands to wield. However the book that established the official standards was written by a woman, and sats that only women should read and write, resulting in women being in charge of basically all scholarship, communication and paperwork. Dalinar muses that he's not sure getting Shardblades was a good trade in the exchange.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein juvenile Time for the Stars written in 1956, the hero leaves for a decades-long relativity trip and when he returns is shocked to find that standards have changed: his father, late in the 20th Century, would never have allowed his sisters to appear, even at the breakfast table, without hats.
  • Jack Vance:
    • In his short story "The Moon Moth", everybody keeps their faces covered at all times by stylized masks that show the wearer's current social standing. Not even spouses ever see each other's naked faces.
    • Similarly, in his Marune: Alastor 933 the act of eating is considered taboo among the upper class: people will eat in private, and couples having an intimate dinner will barely conceal all of that intensely private stuffing of food into a facial orifice behind small table-mounted screens.
  • In Kilgore Trout's Venus on the Half-Shellnote , an alien race known as the Shonks regard their faces as their private parts. Thus, they always wear masks in public, and arrest the space-travelling protagonist for indecent exposure.
  • The classic SF story The Wheels of If by L. Sprague de Camp has a scene on an alternate Earth where belly buttons are considered obscene... but nothing else is, resulting in Barely-There Swimwear of an unusual sort. The protagonist (who is from our Earth) doesn't realize this at first, he just notices that everyone seems to be walking around what he considers to be nude, so he takes his clothes off to fit in... and is promptly arrested for "Shameful Outputting" of his navel (the person explaining exactly what he's being charged with can barely bring himself to say it).
  • In World War, the Race wear no clothing (except in cold climates), but they are covered by intricate bodypaint from head to toe, which indicates their rank and position. The more intricate the pattern, the higher the rank. Naturally, bodypaint has to be reapplied daily (sometimes, more frequently). Fast-forward after the end of the hostilities, and the next generation of humans see nothing wrong with walking around in barely any clothing (sometimes, no clothing at all, females included), using bodypaint patterns as substitute. Naturally, the older generation finds this improper, but good luck telling teenagers that. In the final novel, the protagonists return to Earth in the 21st century and discover that there is now absolutely nothing wrong with a gameshow girl walking around with her breasts bare on live TV, while half the audience is likewise topless or completely nude (may or may not be covered in bodypaint).
  • In Young Wizards, an alien resembling a walking fir tree uses a decency field to cover his roots.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of The Benny Hill Show aired on broadcast TV in America had a silent sketch in the Australian outback. Women were shown showering and their breasts were clearly visible. Someone forgot to censor it for the easily shocked American audiences, apparently.
  • In the Boardwalk Empire episode "Two Boats and a Lifeguard" (set in 1921) a woman gets a fine for wearing a too short bathing suit. The law requires that the skirt can't be higher than seven inches above the knee.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the classic series, at least one character has a similar reaction to Ace in "Ghost Light". Despite the clothes not being particularly revealing by '80s standards (and those of the present, obviously).
    • "Tooth and Claw": Queen Victoria refers to Rose (wearing overalls) as being "naked".
    • Apparently, you don't wear clothes to church... but are expected to use hologramsnote ... which the clergy can see through anyway.
  • There's an episode of Lois & Clark where the main characters travel back in time to The Wild West, and a (female) saloon keeper is disgusted that Lois walks around "naked" (the exact word), despite being dressed in what by 1990s standards would be perfectly respectable attire for a professional woman. By 19th century standards, it wasn't (maybe due to the fact the skirt was too short).
  • In the Cops episode of My Name Is Earl, a foreign Sikh neighbor denies spying on Joy in her trailer and says "Look at the way she dresses! I can see her elbows any time I want to!"
  • An episode of Night Court featured delegates from a vaguely South-Asian nation who had no nudity taboo. To them, a woman becomes more sexually attractive when she is wearing more clothes. This trope comes into play when the ambassador gets the hots for Christine, and tells her he's been "dressing you with my eyes." At the end of the episode, she throws on her very cumbersome coat and scarf and says "have a ball," and he reacts with intense glee.
  • One regular feature of blooper and out-take shows comes from the American version of The Price Is Right, where an over-excited woman contestant called down from the audience to participate in the show whoops, hollers and dances her way down the aisle, bouncing so hard that her breasts bounce right out of her skimpy strapless top. And for a moment or two she does not even notice... when this aired in "blooper" shows in the USA, this segment was censored by the classic black band. Exported to Britain, it was uncensored and screened in all its dubious glory. When several months later a censored version was shown on a British show, possibly because that was lifted directly from an American edition, people rang and wrote to the TV station to ask why they were bothering to censor the clip after it had been screened uncensored for so long.
  • An episode of Quantum Leap had a WWII GI's Japanese bride hanging her laundry out to dry in the air, then stripping to the waist to continue the laundry, unaware of her mother-in-law's horror at the nudity.
  • In the short-lived sci-fi series Something Is Out There, we find that Ta'ra's culture had a different definition of nudity than humans.
    Ta'ra: We've already seen each other's hands, what more is there?
  • Star Trek: Ferengi culture dictates that females shouldn't wear any clothing (or do much else, for that matter). Quark is constantly embarrassed that his mother won't follow this norm. A running gag in one episode was for Ferengi seeing Quark's mother dressed to avert their eyes the way a human would upon accidentally walking in on a naked person. The metaphor is taken to its logical conclusion when Quark's mother asks Rom (Quark's brother) if he'd be more comfortable if she took her clothes off. He would indeed.
  • Played for laughs in Topsy-Turvy, when one of the cast objects to wearing a kimono that leaves his ankles exposed, feeling this is an inappropriate level of nudity.

    Music Videos 
  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's music video for "Amish Paradise", two Amish boys are reading a Playboy-esque magazine for the Amish. The centerfold features a woman revealing... her shin.

    Puppet Shows 
  • On The Muppet Show, Kermit is considered indecently naked when he loses his collar.

  • In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now God knows... Anything Goes.
  • The hooker-advertising-her-wares strip tease described by Nancy in Oliver!:
    "Pretty little Sally goes walking down the alley, displays her pretty ankles for all of the men. They can see her garters, but not for free and gratis — an inch or two, and then she knows when to say when!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay mentions Bretonnians have a taboo against women showing uncovered hair and adds that if one was to accidentally catch a Bretonnian lady bathing naked her instinct would be to use her towel to cover her hair.
  • Reeves are a race of mercenaries and warriors in the Planescape setting who are averse to anyone seeing their faces, including other reeves, keeping their faces hidden by helmets or veils. If anyone sees a reeve's face, the reeve becomes obsessed with finding and killing that person. (Although, enough dead reeves have been examined for their looks to be documented; they have four eyes, no hair, and pebbly skin.)
  • The Kasatha are a minor alien race in Pathfinder and a more prominent one in Starfinder. Kasatha traditions of modesty require that the mouth be covered at all times. To date, no living Kasatha has been depicted with a bare mouth in either system's official art. The closest artwork has gotten was some reanimated Kasatha skeletons in the first part of the Iron Gods Adventure Path (and all that tells us is that they have human-like jaws).

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones the L'Arachel/Ephraim support conversations have L'Arachel panic at the sight of Ephraim's bare shoulder (which he exposed so she could heal an injury to it). It should be noted that L'Arachel's own shoulders are constantly exposed.
  • Starlow of the Mario & Luigi games takes offence at being described as nude in Dream Team, pointing out that she's wearing shoes (which are the only things she's actually wearing). Given that she's a Star Sprite with no discernible 'parts' to speak of, it's not a stretch to assume that they must consider barefootedness to be nudity.
  • Star Control contains two examples.
    • The Utwig are a race that consider it highly inappropriate to show one's face, so much of their society's etiquette is revolved around wearing different masks for different occasions, including disposable ones for the bathroom. Masks that cover less are considered highly titilating, including the "infamous lewd monocle".
    • The Slylandro are a sort of example. They are gaseous beings whose visual sensors respond to different wavelengths than ours; we can see right through them, and note that they have "glowy bits" within their bodies. If asked about these, the Slylandro become very flustered and embarassed, as the glowy bits are apparently involved in reproduction and they can't see them. You are politely requested not to bring the matter up again. Especially around Sullen Plummet; she's shy.


    Web Original 
  • This captioned picture plays with an internet meme.
  • The CollegeHumor page on "If the Internet Always Existed" has bare ankles on the 1900 version of a porn site.
  • In Tales of MU, a nymph's divine beauty is meant to be seen, and the act of wearing clothes in public, denying others the pleasure of seeing (and holding) such beauty, is indecent by nymph standards. Mack learns about this upon walking in on Amaranth trying on a bathrobe in her own room.
  • One online picture dealing with a succubus' mode of dress uses the "inverted" version. Everyday running around is stark nude, "Daring" is only a corset, and by the end she's incredibly embarrassed to be dressed in a parka and snow hat.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Skinner is horrified when his mother goes on a date in an outfit that reveals her... figure.
    • There's also an episode set in the 1800s, where the buy-your-photo section of a log flume ride has to deal with a shot of a lady "flashing her private parts". It's her ankle, and the man running the shop claims he'll take care of it before shiftily stowing it in his pocket as if it were porn. This was a parody of the "Flash Mountain" craze.
    • Another episode has Marge's mother recount the time she was arrested for indecent exposure, having gone to the beach with her ankles visible.
    • One scene that ended up getting cut was one in which the seniors of Springfield shot a "porno" involving old early twentieth-century bathing suits.
  • In one episode of American Dad!, Stan sets up a deal with Ikea to refurnish all of Iraq so it looks like "your first apartment". This cues a Cutaway Gag of a citizen appreciating how his new home looks, before being appalled at his wife's blatant display of nudity and telling her to put some clothes on. She's fully clothed except for her eyes so she covers up her eyes and immediately trips over a table.
  • Played for laughs on Adventure Time, where the Naked Wizard put a cloud on his head and suddenly declared himself "Not naked!"
  • Most of the mice on Angelina Ballerina are naked 24/7 aside from hats, vests and aprons, with Miss Lily being an exception. This got toned down a bit in later seasons.
  • On My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic there is an entire fashion industry in Equestria despite the fact that the majority of the population spends most of their time naked. At one point, Spike (the token male member of the main cast) gets locked out of a dressing room while Applejack (ironically the consistently most dressed pony, with her hat) lampshades that: "We don't normally wear clothes."
  • Rick and Morty features a planet where most of the objects and creatures are made out of gears. In one episode Rick removes two cogs off Gearhead's crotch and replaces his "mouth" cogs with them. The guards see this and react in disgust.
  • Count Max brings this up in Scary Godmother, saying his wife, Ruby, is beautiful but "You can practically see her ankles!" Justified, as he's more than likely originally from an era where that kind of dress was taboo.
    Max: One century it's corsets and bustles and the next thing you know—
    Skully: It's platforms and miniskirts?
  • Darwin from The Amazing World of Gumball only wears shoes, so his feet when shown are usually pixelated the way the other characters' privates are pixelated in-show. Darwin's feet aren't pixelated when he's wearing a towel, which he still wraps around his "waist".
  • Resident Trollan wizard Orko from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is never seen without his trademark scarf and wizard hat, even when encountered at night wearing pajama robes. This is because Trollans will only show their faces to their true love. The visiting Yuckers is even chastised by sister Dre-Elle when he darts off screen, leaving behind his scarf and ball cap.
  • During one "Silly Songs" segment of VeggieTales, Larry the Cucumber emerges from the shower and is frantically searching for his hairbrush. Several fully-nude vegetables enter to help and are shocked to see Larry, who normally doesn't wear anything, in only a towel.

    Real Life 
  • Throughout the Victorian Era, the sight of a woman's ankle was considered outright scandalous. According to The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London, "naked" could be used by the Victorians to mean anything from "clad only in underclothes" to "not wearing an overcoat".
    • An apocryphal story has a 17th-century Spanish queennote  passing through a town renowned for its silk production, where the merchants presented her with a gift of stockings. Since they were effectively lingerie in the time period, her scandalized attendant threw them aside, declaiming, "Know that a Queen of Spain has no legs.". The story ends with Mariana, who was around fourteen years old by then, crying as she feared her legs would be cut off once in Spain.
  • Professional Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested at Revere Beach, Massachusetts in 1907, for wearing an indecent bathing suit. Here it is, covering her from neckline to mid thigh.
  • Kimono Fanservice mentions in passing a fetish for the nape of the neck. There was never a taboo against showing them, however.
  • The "CAP" Alert Christian movie review website frequently deprecates movies where females wear "form-revealing tops".
  • In some African cultures, thighs are considered indecent to show, yet breasts are A-OK, hence you'll see women wearing skirts long enough to cover their thighs and nothing on top. In fact, people of these cultures will find it hilarious when they are told of the Western fetishization of breasts, believing those who buy into this to be like babies.
  • The Mormons' idea of dressing modestly is that which will cover their temple garments, which are basically a white T-shirt and white shorts with special symbols embroidered on them. Showing any part of their temple garments in public (especially to a non-Mormon) is considered a taboo in the LDS Church. The idea is that if the garments can be seen, then the outfit is too revealing, so anything sleeveless or backless is automatically out, as well as anything that shows too much thigh.
  • Ancient Minoan artwork depicts women walking around in outfits that cover their legs, but upper body coverings leave their breasts exposed.
  • Men of the Kapauku tribes of Papua New Guinea often wear nothing but penis-shafts, which will cover the penis (while often being comically oversized) but leave the testicles, buttocks and rest of the body exposed.
  • In some modern Asian countries, it is considered somewhat risque for women to show their shoulders or neckline below the collarbone, but wearing extremely short shorts or skirts is perfectly fine. At the same time, men don't typically go topless as often as they do in the West. It is not uncommon to see t-shirts over swimsuits for both men and women.
  • In Korean spas, which are segregated by gender, the clients typically go completely nude, especially in the saunas. Margaret Cho was therefore quite shocked when, during a visit to one, she was asked to put on a robe because some of the older clients were uncomfortable with her tattoos.
  • This is essentially why nude or topless beaches are more common in Europe than the rest of the world (though opinions on nudity in other settings vary).
    • Australia has a European perspective on beach wear. This commercial demonstrates the setting specific standards by showing the transition from normal male beachwear of briefs (togs) into indecent exposure (undies!) just by walking inland and boarding a bus, elevator, etc.
  • One of the most enduring and widespread dress styles during the middle ages featured a rather low cut that showed off the breast (even nipples), and an extremely low cut on the back (often down to near the waist). At the same time these dresses tended to be ground length and would never have been shorter than knee length. In modern Europe, women in period dresses of he same style often add a (mostly) anachronistic cloth over the torso while those same re-enacters tend to comment on how their dresses show no leg.
  • Until the early 20th century, it was considered indecent for women to have their hair loose, and for men to go outside without a jacket or other profession-appropriate cover for their shirt. It was even considered inappropriate for men to remove their jackets when indoors, except for reasons like excessive heat.
    • As recently as the 1990s, one company in London was notorious for instantly firing any of its [male] employees caught in the main elevator without their jackets.
  • The English comedian Zoe Lyons has a stand-up routine about how she fell victim to this; her Dutch girlfriend, for whom nudity is no big deal, persuaded her with great difficulty to come to a nudist beach where they both stripped and lay down to sunbathe. Lyons fell asleep, and woke up to find her now fully-dressed girlfriend about to go off and find food for them. Lyons stood up to go with her, but then over the sand dune came two old and fully-clothed Swiss friends of Lyons' girlfriend who greeted her affectionately, not batting an eyelid at the fact that Lyons wasn't wearing anything, because after all it was a nude beach and they were being relaxed and European about it. Politeness obliged Lyons to stand around completely naked making small talk for several minutes with three fully-clothed people, including two complete strangers, to her own crippling embarrassment. The others weren't embarrassed at all.
  • "This film contains ethnographic nudity" is a warning message seen at the beginning of many anthropology and cultural tourism documentaries focused on tribal communities, usually of the South Pacific, Central Africa, or the Amazon, meaning that the native people will be shown in their normal state of (un)dress without post-processing blur and that their nudity will be treated as a non-issue rather than as embarrassing or titillating.
  • Many female specific variations begin as ways for upper class women to distinguish themselves and emphasize their status, then filter down as the economic conditions improve or modernize; more women no longer have to deal with physical labor considerations and begin emulating the wealthy.
  • In ancient (and even some modern) Asian cultures, a noblewoman's bare feet were considered almost as private as her genitals. Even now, in many parts of the world baring the soles of your feet is viewed as not just indecent, but insulting.
  • The degree of cover that is the norm in Islamic countries varies widely by history, geography, and economics. There is a general call to modesty in the Koran, but what meets that criteria is not defined (males are also instructed to be modest, but morality is typically not attached as it is for women). Most Muslim nations meet this with the hijab, a covering for the neck and hair, but several nations and cultures are more relaxed, such as Jordan and the Tuareg. In the Ottoman and Persian Empires and for thousands of years before them, the higher a woman's status the more she covered herself; wearing a veil generally indicated that a woman was high class, and hiding the eyes from view could indicate nobility. Some of their successor nations, particularly in the Gulf, have taken this to an extreme in part to emphasize their recent economic rise, in part due to conservative movements that have increased influence since the latter half of the 1900s. What is considered indecent continues to vary - one recent innovation is the burkini, which covers the hair, hands, and legs and includes a skirt to allow for modesty at the beach and in competitive swimming.
    • Other conservative religious groups also include modesty among their strictures, and also often attach indecency only to female compliance. Married Orthodox Jewish women wear head coverings, which can include wigs, while Christian groups often don't restrict headwear, but do generally emphasize form obscuring dresses.
    • Conversely, in the Tuareg culture of North Africa men wrap a fold of their trademark indigo turban (Tagelmust) across their faces at all times while in public (to the point where their faces become permanently blue as the dye leaches into their skin, which is why the Tuareg are sometimes called "The Blue People"), but women do not cover their faces at all. A man baring his face in public is seen as shameful, as the wearing of the veil is a rite of passage into manhood.
  • The Western attitude to showing female hair from about 1600-1850 flipped the general economic model. Mothers (or women who'd been married for long enough that they were expected to be mothers), widows, little girls (and little boys, who wore the same clothes as girls) and old maids (that is, single women over about twenty-five) wore caps. So did servants and nearly all working class women (being caught outside without one was a pretty sure indicator of a prostitute). But ladies — those who were daughters or wives of the landowning class, that is — didn't wear them with evening wear, and single young ladies who were 'out' — that is, available and looking for marriage — didn't wear them at all (Jane Austen's adoption of them at the age of twenty-three can probably be read as her giving up on men at this point). Over the 19th century they dwindled to being only for widows and servants, and that to only a kind of token headband by World War One.
    • As for going outdoors, both sexes were expected to wear hats whenever they left the house until quite recently (the reason people stopped is thought to be the advent of cars). Men, however, were supposed to take them off when they entered a building — especially a church — to show respect, and by extension to briefly raise their hat as a respectful greeting (though this might have come from the fact that they would bow slightly at such moments until the early 19th century — bowing would make your hat fall off). Women, however, would usually have their hat tied on or pinned to their hair, so they would only remove it when at home. (Hats also went on over the aforementioned caps.)
  • The painting Olympia by Edouard Manet depicts a nude woman on a bed. When it was exhibited in Paris in 1865, it was considered immoral and vulgar, not because of the nudity, but because the details of the painting imply that the woman is a prostitute, and also because the woman is staring directly at the viewer, unashamed of her nudity.
  • Married Orthodox Jewish women, in addition to wearing conservative clothing, are also required to cover their hair, using a wig, a hat or sometimes both. In some sects women are only required to cover a part of their hair, while in others they are not allowed for a single strand of their actual hair to be visible. The Satmar Hasidic sect takes this to the point where married women have to shave their heads entirely.
    • While Modern Orthodox men often dress pretty "normally," save for a head covering, Haredi and Hasidic men would be considered under-dressed in anything but a suit.
  • A subversion: when the Spanish colonials tried to conquer the Araucanians in South America, the natives kidnapped many Spanish women; most were later returned in a peace deal, wearing native-made clothes and naked from the waist down. However, the Araucanians had the same understanding of nudity as Europeans; they were invoking this trope to mock the way the Spanish viewed their culture and assumed National Geographic Nudity.
  • Nudity in children has been more tolerated than in adults for most of history, not least because little kids grow so rapidly that keeping them fully clothed involves much more work and expense. Modern parents' Pedo Hunt fears did more to put an end to this than any amount of pressure from Moral Guardians; of course, part of the reason is that, until relatively recently, it was assumed that nobody would be sexually interested in children. The greatly reduced costs of clothes in the modern era is probably why nobody has really complained about this transition much.
    • Nude swimming was the norm in many boys' gym classes in schools up until the 1950s: another practice that fell away with the declining cost of clothing (swimwear included) and the prevalent homophobia of that highly-conservative era.
    • Japanese culture still has a fairly lax attitude toward boys being naked, which is while you'll sometimes see it uncensored in anime. Again, the assumption is just that people will just see it as kids being kids rather than something sexual.
  • In some parts of the Middle East, Central Asia, throughout most of China and Korea under the Confucian society, and earlier periods of Japan, for the men it was considered indecent for their hair or top of their head to be shown in public. Hence many fashionable headwear worn like the turban, the Korean gat, and many Chinese variations. Try looking for men without their headgear in Chinese, Ottoman, or Persian arts. Guaranteed it would extremely rare to stumble upon a single male character with their hair or head shown.
    • With Asian countries, this has something to do with under the Confucian custom, following Confucius' belief that it was considered barbaric for a man to not cover his head as the hair was sacred and should not be shown except at home. As for the Middle East, this links back to the modesty belief in Islam (see above) and the products of the pre-Islamic practices (like the Persians and Assyrians).
  • Surprisingly, higher class women in Ancient Greece were expected to cover themselves in veil except for their face when they went out outdoors, a custom that is very similar in the Middle East. This was explored in depth in Aphrodite's Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones.
  • Some regions of the precolonial Philippines had a much different view on toplessness than Europeans did—wearing a shirt seemed to be more class-based than gender-based; as with many tropical climates, wearing too many clothes is practical instead of titillating. Spanish accounts frequently complain that working-class men and women alike walked around shirtless, and the shirts they saw were often far too thin for Western-style modesty.


Video Example(s):


Naked Mole Rat-Chan

Student council president Miki has a very different idea of what is considered embarrassing.

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Example of:

Main / OurNudityIsDifferent

Media sources:

Main / OurNudityIsDifferent