I ironed five shirts this morning and wore one. After lunch, I went to one of my favorite cafes for a cappuccino. I was watching people in their different clothes when it dawned on me: Why do humans wear clothes? We don’t think about it much, but can you think of another species that wears clothes? I can’t.
We are an odd species: so odd, I sometimes wonder if we belong here. Before humans came along, animals ruled. Even after humans arrived on the scene, things were okay. Then something happened. Some say it was because we started thinking too much. First we started agriculture. Then we started making tools and weapons. Then we started getting greedy and the age of empires began.
Granted, animals kill other animals to eat, but I don’t know of any animals who kill out of greed. We do that so habitually, we don’t even notice it. Our governments don’t help. They say it’s for humanitarian reasons, but that argument doesn’t really hold water. If it did, we would be doing something about Saudi Arabia committing genocide in Yemen. Instead, we pick on countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. As far as I know, none of those countries has been on a rampage.
Why Do Humans Wear Clothes?
Okay, that was kind of a diversion. I still want to know why humans wear clothes. I know, we need them to stay warm in cold climates, but why? The animals who live in cold climates have fur or feathers to protect them. We don’t. We have a little residual hair, but not enough to keep us warm.
Do we wear clothes out of modesty? Animals don’t wear clothes, but they are not having a continuous orgy. They mate when they mate. Yes, males will fight over a desirable female when she’s in heat, but otherwise their lack of clothing doesn’t make them endlessly excited.
I looked it up. Someone argues on Quora that we wear clothes because we walk upright. Our genitalia is always exposed. I don’t buy this argument. I can tell at a glance if a dog, a pig or a cow is male or female. Their genitalia is also exposed.
Another article on BBC also questions the “modesty” theory. It points out that we can’t say for sure when people started wearing clothes. A 2011 study made a guess that we started wearing clothes about 170,000 years ago, but may have only worn them to stay warm. It’s an interesting article, but only touches on reasons why we wear clothes. Lack of fur is one of them, but why don’t we have fur like other animals?
I don’t have the answer, but it seems to me that clothes are unnatural. Perhaps if we hadn’t started wearing clothes there wouldn’t be 7 billion of us on the planet, covering every inch of earth, even in climates we wouldn’t naturally live in if we didn’t have clothes. Perhaps if we didn’t wear clothes, we would fit in to the fabric of life better. There wouldn’t be as many of us and we wouldn’t reproduce at such a rapid pace.
Maybe we’re too “smart” for our own good. Just take a look at our clothes and our cities and it’s clear we are no longer part of the natural order of things. We fight nature tooth and nail. If we continue fighting nature, nature will turn on us and we may die out as a species. It’s happened before and can happen again.
Funny how a random thought leads to other random thoughts. I wondered why humans wear clothes and it made me think of all the other bizarre things we do. I don’t see many animals who are addicted to their smartphones. Animals seem to be more in touch with reality than humans. We seem to live in a make believe world where we need more and more stuff to stay happy. Guess what? We don’t.