Hiding in Plain Sight the Story of Camouflage

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These days, camouflage, or camo, is quite common. We see it used in the military, in hunting, even in fashion. While camouflage seems to be everywhere these days, it actually took quite awhile for it to be widely adopted.

The word “camouflage” is derived from the French verb “camoufler,” which means to conceal. The origins of manmade camouflage certainly drew inspiration from the animal kingdom. There are many animals, like the flat-tail horned lizard, which can alter their skin to match their surroundings. During the Seven Years’ War, British troops began wearing green because it made it harder for the enemy to distinguish them at a distance. This practice continued over the years, though this form of camouflage is rudimentary by today’s standards.

Modern military camouflage began during World War I with French troops. During the war, the French Army employed artists to create camouflage patterns as we know of them today. Other armies followed suit, and, from that point on, camouflage has become an indelible part of military aesthetics. One innovation has been to use different colors and patterns depending environment. For example, in the forest, shades of green are used, whereas in the desert, shades of tan are preferred. Modern military camouflage is quite sophisticated and expensive as well. 70,000 camouflage uniforms for American troops in Afghanistan cost $106 billion.

Camouflage has been used outside of the military as well. Today, it is very popular amongst hunters, who use it to conceal themselves from animals. This practice began in the 1970’s after a hunter named Jim Crumley created his own hunting camouflage using a magic marker. Camouflage has even been used in fashion. Today, it is not uncommon to see pink camo clothing for woman. There are even pink camo formal prom dresses. It is unlikely that the British originators of camouflage would have anticipated that their idea would become so popular in militaries and eventually lead to pink camo clothing.

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