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 also used metaphorically, especially in a pejorative sense, to characterize something associated with a person or group as shameful. 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 sex badge valued.
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. At the beginning of the 13th century, Pope Innocent III prohibited Christians from causing Jews bodily harm, but supported their segregation in society. This canon was largely ignored by the secular governments of Europe until 1269 when King Louis IX of France, later Saint Louis, was persuaded to decree that French Jews must wear a round yellow badge on their breast and back.
In colonial New England during the 17th and 18th centuries, courts required people convicted of sexual immorality to wear the letter “A” or letters “AD” for adultery and the letter “I” for incest on their clothing. Striped prison uniforms were commonly used in the 19th century, as a way to instantly mark an escaping convict. Modern orange prison uniforms serve the same purpose, only with a highly visible bright color to make it difficult to hide. Societies have marked people directly in the practice generally known as being “branded a criminal”.