The ridiculousness that is Kim Kardashian came to a head in January, when the reality-show star hit the slopes in Utah wearing a fur bikini—or “furkini,” as she dubbed it on Instagram. Designed by her husband, fellow fur enthusiast Kanye West, the garment might have been just another transparent grab for attention, if it wasn’t for the fact that it has actual historic precedent. On the website Atlas Obscura, writer Ella Morton describes a similar article of clothing, known as the naatsit, that was apparently all the rage among women in 19th Greenland.
Currently housed in the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, the naatsit is basically a beaded seal-pelt thong, held together by reindeer or whale sinew and decorated with glass beads.
Greenlandic Inuits loved the underthing so much, according to Peter Toft, a member of the museum’s academic staff, that the naatsit was often the “only thing worn even when having guests or visiting the houses of other families.” This didn’t sit well with Danish missionaries, who tried—unsuccessfully—to convince the natives to embrace European-style linen skivvies.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, Greenlanders preferred seal fur over reindeer, fox, bear, or dog because it’s less insulating, Toft said. “Sweat building up inside your garment is just as dangerous as being underdressed for the cold, as your perspiration will eventually freeze,” he told Morton.
A seal-skin G-string, in other words, kept frozen sweatsicles from plugging up one’s posterior—a vital consideration, we’d imagine, north of the Arctic Circle.
So, Kim Kardashian, historical cosplayer? It’s almost too much to hope.