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"It was a mermaid. She was beautiful. Hair covering her breasts... every fucking time...."—Rhys Darby
A woman is topless or fully naked, and the writers don't want to (or can't) stick an object into the scene to cover her up. Fortunately, her hair is just long and thick enough to cover what needs covered and preserve her modesty.
A form of Scenery Censor. Potential source of Fetish Fuel. Related to the Theiss Titillation Theory (after all, what will happen if she turns her head just a little, or the breeze just happens to pick up...?)
Named for Lady Godiva, a noblewoman who rode a horse through the town of Coventry to protest an oppressive tax. Legend says she rode naked: whether 'naked' means nude or 'stripped' in some metaphorical sense is academic, since most artistic representations show the lady garbed only in her flowing hair.
The rare male examples usually include a beard long enough to cover the naughty bits, and generally involve either old hermits or castaways.
- The woman on the Starbucks logo, depending on how you look at it. The logo is based on a 15th century Norse woodcut of a siren, and hasn't always been so SFW. The Pike Place Roast bags have the original logo.
- The logo for Godiva Chocolatier shows a nude woman riding a horse, with one arm tucked across her chest and strands of hair falling down the other side of her chest and covering her crotch.
- This banned commercial featuring a gay Adam with a straight Eve has one. Somewhat subverted, because at one point, you could see one of her nipples.
- Then there's this French ad for a body cream (along with Scenery Censor).
Anime & Manga
- Kagome in an early bathing scene.
- Kikyo soon after her resurrection. Not so much in the manga, though...
- This is a trait of any Ken Akamatsu manga (Love Hina, Mahou Sensei Negima, etc.). The character's hair will usually cover where her nipples would be. Strangely, sometimes his characters DO have nipples when wearing clothes or hair. They just disappear when exposed. There is a rare example of it happening with braids in chapter 251 of Mahou Sensei Negima
- Happens on and off in Ranma One Half, mostly with Shampoo. This isn't surprising, considering how much nudity is in the series. What is surprising is that it's Shampoo, the least inhibited and most sexually aggressive of the female cast (sometimes even beyond the not-so-Innocent Fanservice Gender Bender) who is allowed this modesty. On the other hand, among the girls that play Ms. Fanservice most often (mostly female Ranma and Akane), Shampoo is the only one with hair long enough to pull it off (at least until a dead-ringer for female Ranma, without her hair in a pigtail, shows up for a couple of pages).
- A promotional image (probably not worksafe, though you obviously can't actually see anything) for Fate Hollow Ataraxia showed both Rin and Rider with Godiva Hair. A bit more justified in Rider's case since her hair is practically long enough to trip over.
- Holo from Spice and Wolf has long hair, but it doesn't always cover her, especially in the manga.
- Tenchi Muyo
- Ryoko of does this quite often when depicted in the bath. Every so often, they'd actually show her chest completely, and she just wouldn't have nipples. Ryoko's hair isn't even all that long, especially compared to some other characters in Tenchi Muyo!, but she has rather conveniently-placed long sidelocks that fall right on top of her breasts.
- Averted in the DVD version, at least, of the Tenchi Muyo! OVA, in which Ryoko's nipples are indeed visible in scenes in which she is naked.
- To Love Ru makes full use of this, with the amazing frequency the girls in its cast have to get naked. These scenes were dialed back (dialed up?) in the tankobon, as well as the manga's relaunch To Love Ru Darkness.
- Welcome to The NHK does it with rays of moonlight. Also with actual hair in the anime.
- Chi from Chobits has Godiva Hair shortly after her activation.
- In the AIR OVA, Uraha actually advises Kanna to use this.
- While Gao Gai Gar's regular series had very little fanservice, being meant for kids, apparently someone's mind changed when it came time to make the OVA conclusion, and both Mikoto and Swan are depicted nude with Godiva Hair at least once each. There's a lot more Gainaxing and clothing damage, as well.
- The Puma Sisters of Dominion Tank Police make deliberate use of their long manes of hair to better entice watchers during their Striptease in OVA 1.
- Melona in Queens Blade unusually combines this with Prehensile Hair. While her hair is covering up her naughty bits, it also has a pair of hands on the end, meaning she's groping herself. Weird.
- Most long-haired female characters in Hell Teacher Nube, but especially Kyoko, Ritsuko-sensei, and Hayame. Notably, Yukime has short hair, but for very thin strands that run down her temples and are just barely enough to cover the interesting parts.
- Lafiel pulls this in one episode of Crest of the Stars during her Bath Scene. When her hair's not strategically covering what needs to be covered, it's either camera angles or reflections of light.
- Yoko Littner from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this in the movie, in a suitably epic battle against Adiane the Elegant. Hint? The hair's not just for decoration.
- In The "Blues Notes Blues" chapters of Letter Bee, Niche's sister does this with a twist. At Lag's request to "Put some pants on." she wraps her hair around her bikini style.
- In the Fruits Basket manga, Rin's nipple is just barely covered by a thin strand of hair.
- Miaka and Soi have Godiva Hair in Fushigi Yuugi, and in the former's case, we've also got Godiva Vines. Yui, whose hair is much shorter than the other two, is less lucky.
- Used a lot in Shattered Angels. Since female characters are often naked in the anime and seem incapable of bathing themselves (they require another naked female to bathe them), their front fringes serve the useful purpose of barely covering their nipples.
- Yuty in Heroic Age.
- Brita in Darker Than Black.
- Bluebell from Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
- Used in the anime adaptation of The Little Mermaid, as Marina and her sisters are topless, although Marina's nipples can be seen at some points.
- Similarly used in Mahou no Mako Chan, another anime adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
- The girl whose tears turn into a crimson pearl in XxxHolic which Watanuki intends to give to the Spider Lady turns out to have Godiva Hair when her clothes fall off and she begins crying.
- One "How to Draw Manga" book called Girl's Life Illustration File has a section about tactfully rendering nudes. This is given as an option.
- When Boa Hancock met Luffy in One Piece, she spends a lot of time naked or topless for plot-related reasons. Causing her to be covered up like this pretty much whenever her back isn't turned.
- Eureka's long hair in the Eureka Seven movie serves this purpose really well for her.
- Macross Frontier's Sheryl Nome has this in a couple of her scenes. Despite the conveniently placed hair, Alto still gets a good slap.
- Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt takes this to rather goofy extremes, since Panty uses her underwear as a weapon. So she fights several battles while bottomless, and somehow her hair manages to keep everything censored.
- Leiji Matsumoto uses this several times across various works, and he even admitted that the origin of the Rapunzel Hair that eventually became his Signature Style when drawing women was initially to cover up nudity.
- Cana and Erza from Fairy Tail.
- Played for Nightmare Fuel in episode 24 of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Asuka is lying in a destroyed house's bathtub naked after having crossed the Despair Event Horizon and ran away from home. Her breasts are covered by hair while the lower regions are submerged in murky/bloody water (it's implied that she slit her wrists).
- Gena in Ivan's vision in Priest.
- Taken to an absurd level in the Grenadier manga. Someone tries to sabotage Rushuna's participation in a swimming contest by giving her a dissolving bikini. She still wins, and as she gets out of the water we see she's tied her hair into an improvised sling bikini.
- In Katanagatari, considering the sheer length of Togame's hair, it's actually harder to not use this trope when she's naked.
- Older Than Steam: The famous 1486 painting The Birth of Venus is a strong early candidate for this trope, with the goddess Venus using her long hair to cover her lower self.
- Pretty much every depiction of Eve in the past couple centuries.
- X-Men's Storm, not caring for most people's silly nudity taboo, is frequently hair-clad (but more frequently wind effect-clad.)
- Timmain in Elf Quest qualifies, when she's not being a wolf. From time to time, so does her polar counterpart Winnowill.
- In the first issue of Secret Invasion, Reed Richards is performing an autopsy on the Skrull who'd posed as Elektra. An overhead shot gives a full view of her body, with a convenient light blocking her crotch and Godiva Hair over her breasts.
- Parodied and lampshaded in the French comic book Trolls de Troy (a spin-off of Lanfeust): the (human) heroine is once changed by magic into a (nude) mermaid; the villain points out that she doesn't need any Seashell Bra, since it is a "genetic trait" of mermaids' hair to automatically cover their breasts. And it is actually always the case -- even when she's hanging upside-down.
- Also lampshaded somewhat in Superman/Batman: one of The Maximums (an Ultimates parody) that Batman and Superman face is a parody of Enchantress named Godiva and she is depicted as nude except for her ridiculously long hair, which manages to keep her bits covered, even when she's fighting.
- The Guardian of Keys in Thorgal appears wearing only this and a golden belt with an oversized buckle. Somewhat subverted later when some nude females do appear in the series. This is mostly due to the publishing in weekly format in Tintin, which was a catholic magazine. The restrictions were dropped when it switched to hardcover albums.
- Referenced in Exiles. During a discussion about nudity, Morph turns into Godiva herself, horse and hair and all.
- Venus from Agents of Atlas, being rather... liberal, spends a few issues like this, but eventually puts on some clothes to "help blend in with the rest of the team".
- Medusa of the Inhuman Royal Family does this. A lot. She has really, really long prehensile hair.
- One issue of Wonder Woman opens with Diana waking up to Ares paying her a visit in her bedroom (no, not like that), and because Diana apparently sleeps au natural she only has Godiva Hair covering her. Oddly, despite having the God of War and major Jerkass Ares right in front of her, she doesn't make any attempts to cover up, though that could be her Amazonian upbringing.
- Empowered also has long hair. Good for her, as often as her super-suit rips.
- Teen Titans: Starfire uses this every so often, particularly when Dick Grayson discovers her in the shower.
- Done in an issue of New Avengers as Wolverine corners Jessica Drew in the shower.
- Lori Lemaris, one of Superman's supposed ex-girlfriends.
- Astro City: Occurs with the Infidel's female homunculi.
- Knockout of the Secret Six once emerged from a shower completely naked, with only with a few strands of hairs covering her nipples and groin.
- EflQuest has this with Timmain.
Films -- Animation
- The goddess Hecate, in the Hellboy animated film Blood and Iron.
- This happens in The Last Unicorn after the Unicorn turns into Princess Amalthea.
- Peter Pan: One of the mermaids who live at Mermaid's Lagoon (more specifically, the redhaired one who is bathing at the start of the sequence the mermaids show up in) sports this. The others have either seashell or starfish bras, and there's one who uses a white flower necklace to cover her chest.
- The Little Mermaid was going to use this, and did use it through the storyboarding and the initial pencil tests. It was only abandoned when the colour tests showed the concept to be unworkable without redesigning almost every underwater shot. Seashell Bra were used instead.
- Treasure of Swamp Castle: Szaffi bathing.
- Fantasia has the female centaurs bathing in the lake.
Films -- Live-Action
- Lindsay Lohan after she wakes up nude (in a church!) in Machete.
- The Scorpion King has a scene with the above-average looking psychic/fortune-teller/seer popping up out of a pool of water in a Godiva Hair moment.
- Mermaids are often depicted with Godiva Hair. Splash is probably the best-known recent example.
- Aquamarine from the movie of the same name.
- Brooke Shields' hair was apparently glued to her breasts during some scenes of the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon in order to satisfy censors.
- In Robin Hood Men in Tights, when Marian steps out of the bath. The camera's primary attention may be on her chastity belt, but her (awful) wig provides Godiva Hair coverage for her breasts.
- In The Mask of Zorro, Elena is left clad in pajama bottoms and hair when Zorro slices her nightshirt off.
- Alyda in the The Unnamable II spends a good portion of the film like this due to the fact that she hates/fears clothing. It's awesome.
- This picture of Valentina from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
- Megan Fox in Jennifer's Body.
- Naturally, the 1955 film Lady Godiva of Coventry features this: Maureen O'Hara as the eponymous noblewoman wear tresses long and luxuriant enough to cover her body entirely.
- Syrena and some of the other mermaids in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides have this. Except for when they have Barbie Doll Anatomy instead.
- In Space Mutiny, one of the Bridge Bunnies has such long hair and such a skimpy uniform that Mike and the Bots immediately assume she's nude.
- Subverted horribly in From Dusk till Dawn with one such vampire.
- In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Uma Thurman in the The Birth of Venus scene.
- Subverted in The Wheel of Time, when one of the main characters is travelling through a rather rowdy festival and notices that a number of women attempting this don't have long enough hair to pull this off. We (obviously) don't get to see anything.
- In H. Rider Haggard's She, She's hair is long enough and thick enough that it doesn't just cover her nipples, it covers everything. She fastens a belt around her hair and wears it like a dress.
- Marlowe remarks upon a stained glass window featuring a woman with long and convenient hair in The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.
- It also features in a photography session in Andy Looney's The Empty City. Chapter 95, to be precise: link here.
- Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid.
- The famous statue in Copenhagen, which is one of the city's main tourist attractions, noticeably does not. She has her hair in a braid on her back.
- Played straight and made into a pun all at the same time in the Xanth series with Godiva Goblin. Her hair has a special talent of covering up exactly where it needs to in order to not violate the "Adult Conspiracy" (who keep children from learning the secret of "Summoning the Stork").
- Appears briefly in The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose by Mary Hooper. Eliza is dressed as a mermaid for the Midsummer Fair in London and wears her hair like this.
- Subverted in Everworld, as Christopher discovers that the mermaids' attempts to use Godiva Hair are not always successful.
- Played straight in Where's Wally of all things. Made even better by the fact that this is the place Waldo chooses to "hide".
- Breeding Humans by Harold King has this with women breed by the avian hekirs, whose do so for ornamental reasons and for rope.
- Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker, female centaurs have long hair which they use to cover their breasts.
- In the episode "The Jersey Devil" of The X-Files, Claire Stansfield (who played a Neanderthal woman) was required to have her hair tied over her breasts in many shots to keep the Fox censors happy.
- This promotional image for The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
- Both Lady Godiva and Phoebe in Charmed.
- An early David Copperfield magic special included a trick in which he removed a bikini top from a poster of Loni Anderson. Loni (on stage) then removed the hair clips from her poster, causing a Godiva effect on the poster.
- ICarly: A non-nude version was used for Sam in iQuit iCarly, when she wore a purple skintight bodysuit, as part of their usual attempt to hide the fact that the actress is a female and actually has boobs now. Carly however, wasn't required to do this.
- Apparently averted in The Vicar of Dibley, when Gerri asks what did they do for village fête the year before her arrival in the village...
- "Lucifer" Orgy Pants to Work, in order to enter a nudist resort Ella Lopez strips down nude, her hair is the only thing covering her chest.
Owen: We reenacted Lady Godiva; everyone was so disappointed.
Gerri: What, Lady Godiva in a body-stocking?
Frank: No! She was completly nude!
Cropley: Well, I didn't have time to grow my hair long enough, you see...
- The first elimination challenge of season three of Shear Genius was ALL about this trope.
- Used in several photo shoots on America's Next Top Model.
- Hercules The Legendary Journey, in Love Amazon Style, Aphrodite rides a horse in the nude, her hair covering her chest.
- The music video for Alanis Morissette's "Thank U" shows her completely nude, with her long hair covering her breasts and a blur over her genital area. According to Pop-Up Videos, she is also wearing a latex codpiece.
- Used in the Britney Spears music video "Everytime".
- A dancer in Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" seems to only be covered by her hair.
Myths & Religion
- The trope is named for Lady Godiva, the medieval English noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked on a white horse through Coventry, England, to get rid of the unfair taxes posed by her family. Many paintings of her portray her with very long hair, covering her naughty bits as per the trope. But the paintings made in medieval times portray her with more graphic nudity and normal, shoulder-length hair, with the Godiva Hair paintings not coming around until centuries later. So the idea that Lady Godiva really was covered in this way is clearly a product of Bowdlerization.
Some scholars have speculated that there might have been some confusion in the telling of the tale -- that the original story might have said she went out without her clothes, that is, dressed in a shift like a religious penitent, rather than naked (which would not make much sense as a protest). On the other hand, there's little historical evidence to support the story having happened at all, naked or not.
- Many depictions of the Biblical figure Eve, particularly in illustrated childrens' Bibles, use this.
- Also in depictions of Saints; Mary Magdalene is sometimes shown nude with Godiva Hair.
- ESPN the Magazine recently ran a Body Issue featuring athletes of both genders in nothing or almost nothing along with articles on what makes some people genetically inclined to be successful athletes. Not surprisingly, two of the female athletes had this.
- Cindy Margolis often used this.
- The cover of FATAL has this for just the boobs of the random slave-woman on the cover. If you saw said cover and didn't come to a few conclusions about this game's attitude towards women, you have no-one to blame but yourself.
- The bar painting of a pirate lass in "Pirates of the Caribbean" at Disneyland is topless with just a few wisps of Godiva Hair.
- The Great Fairy in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. Oddly, when someone hacked into the game to lift the hair, they found she actually had nipples, or at least appeared to.
- Nevan in Devil May Cry 3. It must be glued to her nipples.
- The Rusalka in Quest for Glory IV -- even teasing the players when a lock of her hair is needed as one of the steps to free her. Naturally, it apparently comes from the back of her head. She does make a crack about how she would look with short hair.
- In Riviera the Promised Land, there's a pair of bath scenes that use Godiva Hair to cover up female characters -- at least, those that have enough hair. The ones that don't are covered up in other strategic ways.
- Eve in Painkiller. Her hair still does this, even after her assets are covered up in the expansion. When the camera is at the right angle, this trope fails to achieve its goal.
- Jacqli/Mir's Miros costume in Ar Tonelico 2 has this. The conversation point about the costume focuses on that aspect.
- Bayonetta turns this trope on its head. The title character is a witch whose default wardrobe consists entirely of her own magically manipulated hair. Not surprisingly, she uses her hair for other things sometimes, which in turn makes this both an inversion and an aversion of the trope. And when she's doing some serious witchcraft, not much is left on her person nor to the imagination.
- A good number of female demons/Personae in the Shin Megami Tensei series; while the hand-drawn artwork in their profiles shows them in various (and detailed) stages of nudity, the actual character models have seemingly glued their hair to their chest.
- In the intro movie of Video Game/Cupid, Venus appears with godiva hair.
- The Lady of the Forest in Dragon Age Origins appears naked with godiva hair, as well as strategically placed vines and branches; not quite Scenery Censor or Hand or Object Underwear as it's not a trick of the camera angle nor an overt action on her part.
- Felicia from Darkstalkers manages to combine this concept with Fur Bikini.
- Therazane of World of Warcraft does this, but considering her skin made of cracked rock and a smile of razor-sharp, purple crystals, it's easy to overlook.
- The dryad Morenn in the American release of The Witcher uses Godiva Hair and a loincloth to satisfy the censors. (These, along with other censoring added to the American release, can be removed with the Director's Cut patch if one is so inclined.)
- The Japanese and European versions of Robo Aleste have this in the cutscene with Astaros bathing.
- Quelaag, one of the bosses from Dark Souls, is a naked woman (With a horrible lava-spider for lower body) and rocks the Godiva Hair.
- In El Goonish Shive, Mermaid!Nanase is shown with this during a dream.
- This Dan and Mabs Furry Adventures strip. And even more blatant two strips later, with the same character.
- The Order of the Stick
- This strip of Schlock Mercenary.
- Averted by Lady Godiva herself, in this strip of Palindramas.
- Kili of The Dragon Doctors explodes out of her clothes when she turns into a werewolf recently. Fortunately, she's got very long hair now to cover her up when she turns back.
- Perhaps never more blatantly done than in this Drowtales comic.
- Blade Bunny wakes up with this in one strip.
- Living with Insanity has a nudist. Originally she was covered with this trope, but when Paul Salvi came on board, he decided not to bother.
- Too Much Information has a shoulder devil, Cleopatra, who's a sexy demoness covered only by long tresses of flaming hair.
- Lauren from Jix had Godiva Hair when she changed back to human from Ambis (since Ambis don't wear clothes normally).
- When Erin from Dragon City was temporarily changed into human from dragon, she had hair covering her nipples since female dragons don't wear clothes.
- An early Apple Geeks page has a nudist club having a party in one character's room, leading to this.
- Wayward Sons: Cassandra removes her clothes to use her powers, resulting in this trope.
- The Word Weary: John imagines Elly naked but is so convinced he'll never actually see her nude that he imagines her hair covering her good bits.
- Combined with Censor Steam and Speech Bubble Censoring in this shower scene from Crossoverkill.
- Miho of Megatokyo has it when she goes to the bathhouse with Piro while fleeing her rabid fans.
Peter: Oh my God! She's got hair growing out of her boobs and up to her head!
- And on The Simpsons, when Marge is Eve in a dream sequence. And whenever she's showering.
- This trope let Avatar: The Last Airbender keep its TV-Y7 rating while showing Katara bathing. That and staying mostly underwater.
- Used by, of all women, Madam Foster of Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends.
- In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: A.R.C.T.I.C.", after the KND are hit by a "Nude Torpedo", Numbuh Three manages to cover herself completely with her long hair, like a cape.
- One episode of King of the Hill had Hank and Peggy visiting a nude campsite where they met two female nudists. One of which had long, straight brown hair that conveniently covered her breasts.
- Apple Bloom's sculpture from "The Cutie Pox" episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is basically a pony version of "Birth of Venus" (see above) and uses both Godiva mane AND Godiva tail, as seen here.
- Lucy Pinder, former Page Three Stunna and still "steaming hot" nude model, started the recent "Hairkini" trend in England, with women covering up their nips with long, long hair.
- Ayumi Hamasaki had a CD poster of her with Godiva Hair.
- Some women who are growing their hair out count attaining the ability to do Godiva Hair as a milestone in hair growth. No word on whether or not they do it in public, though.
Anime & Manga
- The Vision of Escaflowne: In the anime, when emperor Dornkirk gets out of his machine naked, the only thing leaving him some modesty is his massive beard. Averted in the manga when he gets an energist body, where his beard barely reaches his chest. However, we are treated to heavily shaded Barbie Doll Anatomy.
- Sometimes Mr. Natural walks around naked, except his beard covers up the rude bits -- but not the back.
- Also seen in one album of the French comic book Marine, with an old naked hermit living under the sea.
Films -- Live-Action
- The hermit who's taken a vow of silence (played by Terry Jones) in Monty Pythons Life of Brian. Like Mr. Natural mentioned above, it only covers his front.
- Shel Silverstein once wrote a poem about a long-bearded nudist who takes advantage of this trope. The illustration is very much not fanservice.
- Adventure Time
- The Ice King has once an Out-of-Clothes Experience. Thankfully, his beard is inexplicably longer during that scene.
- The Naked Wizard in "Memories of Boom Boom Mountain" and "Wizard Battle" also has his torso covered by his beard.
"I'M NAKED! EEHEEHEEHEEHEE!"
- Dudley Do Right once lost his uniform, and so couldn't any longer be a mountie. He lives in the woods until he grows a beard long enough to cover himself.