October 30, 2022 •
The Elephants’ New Clothes
If you are familiar with the children’s illustrated books by Jean de Brunhoff featuring Babar the King of the elephants, you will know that civilized elephants wear clothes. What is less obvious is this weird double standard that developed.
Civilized animal cultures tolerate nudity in art to a greater extent than nudity in real life, with different parameters for what is acceptable: for example, even in a museum where nude elephants are displayed, nudity of the visiting elephants is generally not acceptable.