Social Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Mermaids and their bodies (if they existed in the first place) -- and how they appear in images historical and modern. Modesty?

Asked by elbanditoroso (28659points) May 1st, 2012

This question pertains to mermaids (if they were to exist) and how they are depicted in art and popular culture nowadays.

If you go to an images collection – Google Images, for example – a huge majority of mermaid pictures show fish scales and the tail beginning roughly at the waist and continuing southward. Historical mermaid pictures generally show a nude upper torso, while more recent mermaid pictures – and particularly anything from the last 30 years, show bras, some sort of pasties, or very cleverly draw additional fish scales covering the chest.

If mermaids were truly aquatic, would they need artificial coverings for their chests? Or is it safe to say that the specific functional needs relating to a mermaid’s swimming abilities are being mis-represented by artist and filmmakers in order to make their works more saleable, by not offending people who dislike the human body?

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11 Answers

marinelife's avatar

They would need a lot of stuff if they actually existed. How about gills to breathe underwater? So, artistic license is just that.

Mariah's avatar

My guess would be that any sort of clothing would make them less hydrodynamic; the coverings are just to avoid nudity in dipictions.

ragingloli's avatar

[Giorgio Tsoukalos mode on] What do you mean if? Our ancient ancestors were not stupid. They depicted what they actually saw. Mermaids were actually the result of genetic experiments done by flesh and blood extraterrestrials.[Giorgio Tsoukalos mode off]
As Ancient Astronaut Theorists Believe.

mothermayi's avatar

Mermaids actually do have breasts, albeit small ones for hydrodynamic purposes, and they are never covered. They are just normal breasts. It’s the prudes of the world who have to cover them up.

And they have hidden gills behind their ears. My mermaid girlfriend showed me.

syz's avatar

Do they have belly buttons? Because if they don’t have belly buttons, they’re not placental animals, and if they’re not placental, they probably wouldn’t produce milk or require breasts.

(Even the rare -nay, unique! milk-producing-egg-laying platypus lacks breasts, or even nipples.)

mothermayi's avatar

They have belly buttons, and all their working female bits. They just have to go on land to transform and mate.

syz's avatar

^ Convenient, that.

Blackberry's avatar

Obviously, lol. We’re aren’t born with clothing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Okay, well mermaids are made up and they represent a kind of anxiety felt around connecting women’s sexuality to nature and animality. Previously, she had her breasts exposed and was representative of unbridled and taboo sexuality. Now, as evidence towards women’s bodies in general, the mermaid’s breasts are covered, controlled, curtailed.

Sunny2's avatar

She’s fish on the bottom and female on the top, hence the breasts. But the fish part would lay eggs (I picture them as orangey salmon-like eggs). Some merman must have to come along to fertilize them. Not very interesting. That’s why she wanted to come onto land and try to make it as more human than fish. I do not like the conclusions I’m drawing from the analogy.

ucme's avatar

“I wanna be where the boobies are
I wanna see, wanna see them bouncing
Up where they lay, up where they sway
Oh how I wish I could play”
In part of their world

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