In images from Roman to contemporary Britain, mermaids are usually not wearing any clothes. Other types of fairies, spirits, and gods are usually depicted at least partly dressed.
Why then are mermaids naked? Or aren't they?

Are mermaids naked in written sources like fairy tales and legends, too? And do they explain the nudity?

  • It may have something to do with the idea of Sirens luring men to their doom. Although the sirens are winged, sailors were their targets.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 18:05
  • The physical creature which led in part to the myth of mermaids is the manatee, which traditionally doesn't wear clothing. Commented Jul 17, 2018 at 9:50

1 Answer 1


A number of reasons: mermaids are part of nature, not culture, Classical depictions of marine deities and other spirits show them naked, and because mermaids are supposed to be sexy.

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