From the second page of I Photographed Women In 60 Countries To Change The Way We See Beauty:

Her tribe is called the Daasanach. With the high temperatures here, nudity is not unusual.

Amongst the Daasanach, is nudity not unusual, and are high temperatures the main cause of people being naked?

  • 6
    It's worth to keep in mind that "not using clothes" is the default human state. Most of the time, clothes arise as a need for protection from the envirionment or decoration and not as a form of modesty. There are several native tribes in Brazil that don't have to deal with the high temperatures and are living happily being naked. – T. Sar Oct 30 '17 at 17:51
  • @Downvoters what is wrong with the question? Should I show this article running in other publications as well to better establish notability? Do you think I chose this claim because I’m opposed to FGM? I can honestly say it isn’t - I can show the Facebook account that shared this article, and when I first researched the claim, I had no clue it would have anything to do with FGM. – Andrew Grimm Oct 30 '17 at 19:41
  • 3
    You probably got downvoted because this claim is a bit obscure. I liked the question, so I threw in an Upvote, but I can't talk for the others. – T. Sar Oct 30 '17 at 19:47
  • 1
    Looks like the linked website is showing samplings of content from a book that's being sold on Amazon.com. book with 99 reviews, so seems likely that the claim's in there. – Nat Oct 30 '17 at 20:37
  • 2
    @jamesqf Brazil is a very "tall" country with lots of mountains, hills, rivers, etc. Usually people think "Brazil = Hot Climate", but we have places like my homeland, Rio Grande do Sul, in which the climate is way less agressive than the African Savanah. We also have lots of rivers, so even in the cool days you always have a source of cool water nearby. – T. Sar Oct 31 '17 at 18:46

See Women’s Worlds in Dassanetch, Southern Ethiopia, Institut für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität (2005).

Unlike boys Dassanetch girls start wearing clothes from childhood on. From the age of about two years they start wearing an apron made of cloth or leather. From the age of four they start wearing a gele. This is an ankle-length leather skirt which consists of two separate tanned skins, the silla (front skirt) and abbuni (rear skirt). The skins may be from either goat or sheep and are tied around the waist in such a way – the rear one above the front one – that the girl’s private parts are always covered. ... Kidoa’s four year-old daughter Nautcho already had a leather skirt.

The reference thoroughly discusses female (so-called) circumcision. It is not true that the women are fully-naked if they are uncircumcised. Instead, they can not wear a specially type of skirt:

Circumcision is one of the transition periods a female undergoes in her life. This period is a time when restrictions are abolished. In everyday life girls are not allowed to wear the women’s dresses. But after their circumcision girls put on their mother’s morritch [82] (women’s leather dress)

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    It is worth to make explicit that this type of circumsicion is the removal of the clitoris. From the linked article "[...] the clitoris, which has to be removed". I'm not sure why the author opted to use the term "circumcision" instead of the more correct genital mutilation, but my general impression is that she was trying very hard to put this practice in a good light. Anyways, despite the article being interesting, it doesn't answer the question. – T. Sar Oct 31 '17 at 14:59
  • 2
    Participant observation is apparently still a valid research methodology in anthropology. I'm in no position to judge that, but I wish to point out that the publication that you reference is basically an eye-witness report from a university student who relied on male interpreters when interacting with the the people she visited. As perhaps usual in that style of research, no attempt is made to confirm the author's observations by references to other authors. – Schmuddi Oct 31 '17 at 14:59
  • 1
    @T.Sar Since the claim is "nudity is not unusual", the statement "girl’s private parts are always covered" addresses that claim. There is no reason for nudity, if such nudity does not exist. – DavePhD Oct 31 '17 at 15:02
  • 3
    Anyway, despite these questions, this report is probably the best academic evidence that we can get with regard to the clothing habits of Daasanach women. On p. 148, it does describe that the girls in the village "took good care that her hands covered their private parts" when bathing naked in a river. Women are reported to "never take off their skirts when they wash themselves" in the river, "this never happens". These are further hints that full nudity is not the norm among the Daasanach girls and women observed in the study. You might want to add these bits to your answer. – Schmuddi Oct 31 '17 at 16:02
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm the main thing is to use the spelling "Dassanetch". Most of the older and more serious articles use that spelling. It think I searched ("Dassanetch" and "circumcision"). – DavePhD Oct 31 '17 at 20:33

Other sources indicate a less innocent explanation: nudity is the penalty for not undergoing female genital mutilation. Amongst females, only those who've undergone it are allowed to wear clothing, and there are other consequences as well.

From BBC Tribe - The Dassanech

The Dassanech tribe is not strictly defined by ethnicity. Anyone – man or woman - will be admitted, as long as they agree to be circumcised.


Dassanech girls are circumcised young, at around 10 or 12 years of age. If they are not circumcised, a girl can’t marry and her father won’t receive her bride-price, so he has a direct interest in her going through the ordeal. Until they are circumcised, girls are called ‘wild animals’ or ‘men’ to tease them – the idea is that their clitoris has to be removed before they act like women.

Girls may be circumcised in their mother’s house, or in another village, but always with other girls of their age going through the same ritual. The cutting itself is usually done by an older woman who will be helped by the girl’s relatives. She’s held down, and a leather strap is tied around her ankles or in between her legs. It is kept tied to restrict the girl’s movement, until the wounds have healed and the pain has subsided.

When the ritual has been completed, the girl is given sour milk to drink and a necklace by her mother. From then on, she is allowed to wear a leather skirt to show she is now considered an adult. Marriage for girls often takes place soon after.

The Atlas of Humanity (about page, about page for DeFactory) and Wikipedia explicitly say that women who have not undergone FGM are not allowed to wear clothing, with pretty much the same text:

Women are circumcised by removing the clitoris. Women who are not circumcised are called animals or boys and cannot get married or wear clothes. Women wear a pleated cowskin skirt and necklaces and bracelets, they are usually are married off at 17 while men are at 20. Boys are circumcised. Men wear only a checkered cloth around their waist.

The BBC article has no mention of nudity being the result of high temperatures.

While browsing the topic, it seemed like women who wore a skirt didn't necessarily wear a top. This may well be the case for the woman photographed, and may be the reason the photo is a headshot. I'd be surprised to see toplessness being interpreted as nudity, however. For an example of women wearing a skirt but not a top, from Getty images: (warning: photo of topless women) Topless dassanech tribe woman, Omo valley, Omorate, Ethiopia

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .