A badge of shame, also a symbol of shame, mark of shame or stigma, is typically a distinctive symbol required to be worn by a specific group or an individual for the purpose of public humiliation, ostracism or persecution. The term is we wear the mask analysis pdf used metaphorically, especially in a pejorative sense, to characterize something associated with a person or group as shameful. In England, under the Poor Act 1697, paupers in receipt of parish relief were required to wear a badge of blue or red cloth on the shoulder of the right sleeve in an open and visible manner, in order to discourage people from collecting relief unless they were desperate, as while many would be willing to collect relief in public, few people would be willing to do so if required to wear the “shameful” mark of the poor in public. The yellow badge that Jews were required to wear in parts of Europe during the Middle Ages, and later in Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe, was effectively a badge of shame, as well as identification.
The term may also refer to other identifying marks that are associated with shame. Especially making specified people go barefoot contrasting the usual form of appearance has been frequently used to showcase their submission as this distinctive feature is customarily associated with enslavement, captivity and imprisonment. The barefooted individuals are hereby shown as distinctly lower in status than ordinary citizens, incidentally lacking natural rights and liberties as free people can usually obtain footwear without restrictions.
The biblical “Mark of Cain” can be interpreted as synonymous with a badge of shame. Punitive depilation of men, especially burning off pubic hair, was intended as a mark of shame in ancient Mediterranean cultures where male body hair was valued. Women who committed adultery have also been forced to wear specific icons or marks, or had their hair shorn, as a badge of shame. Many women who fraternized with the occupiers in German-occupied Europe had their heads shaved by angry mobs of their peers after liberation by the Allies of World War II.
During World War II, the Nazis also used head shaving as a mark of shame to punish Germans like the youthful non-conformists known as the Edelweiss Pirates. In Ancient Rome, both men and women originally wore the toga, but over time matrons adopted the stola as the preferred form of dress, while prostitutes retained the toga.