Thongs Are the Worst: a Thesis

Sorry Sisqó

04.10.17
anti thong man repeller-2

My friend Stephanie and I were picking through the sales table at Gap when she threw a pair of underwear at me and smirked. I picked it up. It was bright yellow, had the bounce and stretch of a sports bra and right where there ought to have been more fabric, there was nothing. It lived in my drawer for years. My first thong. I was in seventh grade. She bought one as well, and we hid them in our bags like contraband as we giggled our way back to the mall food court to find our moms. When we reached them and she immediately copped to our dalliance, I was mortified. When my mom didn’t bat an eye, I was shocked. Now that I think about it, she always played it cool during those weird little rites of pubescent passage, bless her heart.

I have no idea who or what inspired me to want a thong. I certainly wasn’t worried about VPL as a 12 year old. But somewhere along the line, I got the idea that underwear up the butt felt like teen spirit. When I think back, few purchases made me feel more grown up than those ugly yellow undies. I wonder where they are now. Probably buried in a landfill or hanging off some poor tween seagull’s beak.

I wasn’t an immediate convert. It took me a couple years to build a collection and understand the point, but by the time I was 16, I was a season regular at the Victoria’s Secret five-for-$25 thong tower. It was shaped like a tiered wedding cake and I’m pretty sure was engineered to attract impressionable young girls who wanted to look like Adriana Lima under their soccer uniforms. By the end of high school I was never not in a Victoria’s Secret thong. By the end of college, I’d upgraded to Hanky Panky, but it was essentially the same song and dance. (You owe me $100 for not making that a pun.)

I don’t remember harboring a real appreciation for thongs. I’d just built up all this momentum, you know? They were all my friends wore, too. We were the living embodiment of Sisqó’s vision. And I’d somehow convinced myself I was super into lace. Like really, really into lace.

At some point, though, I strayed — right into seamless. Calvin Klein “invisible hipsters,” to be specific. I had a straight-up cow. I changed my entire personality in like, five seconds. Instant self-righteousness like you’ve never seen. Why the fuck had I literally ever worn a thong? THEY’RE SO UNCOMFORTABLE AND UNSANITARY AND UNFLATTERING. Cancel thongs!!! I bought ten invisible hipsters (also my band’s name) on the spot.

I haven’t worn a thong in about five years. I don’t even own any! And I’ve never felt better about it. I love not having a nightmarish piece of fabric wedged up my butt. It feels like freedom. My drawer is full of underwear that holds me tenderly, instead of slicing me up like a chicken cutlet. I’ve never felt less like a piece of meat! (Even though technically I am.) I’ve even strayed from seamless and started to wear high-waist cotton briefs that give me what Amelia dubbed an “ass mitten.” It’s so fun. I love mittens. VPL never hurt a damn fly.

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis; Pansy underwear in feature image.

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  • Hilary

    ASS MITTENS 4EVER. I saw your Insta-story with Amelia defending thongs and I couldn’t deal. (You’re still wonderful, tho, Amelia.) I had friends pressure me into buying a few thongs in college and they barely made it onto my body. So, so, SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Why?!?! I now wear the dowdiest underwear possible because it’s comfy AF. Thank you for standing up for what is right, Haley.

    • Cristina

      Haha! Yes to dowdy underwear! Why do we have to be “sexy” in our underwear?! I hate wearing pants, but also need something to keep my cheeks from jiggle jangling as I walk around the house. Moderate coverage FTW.

  • I vote for granny panties any day.

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I am proud to say that I have never worn or owned a thong in my life. Even as a teenager I just KNEW. My first “brown-up” underwear purchase were the 5 for $20 cotton bikini briefs ate VS. I then graduated to the seamless second skin bikini briefs and then upgraded to the seamless hipster panties. But I was still obsessed with prints and patterns. Now that I’m in my thirties? Black, and nude solid color bikini briefs (cotton preferred but will wear seamless for special occasions or outfits. PS – Thongs ARE unsanitary.

    • Cristina

      Too funny. I was just thinking in college I was all about colors and stripes and neon this and that but now it’s like… varying shades of nudes, a million black (prob of the same exact panty cause one can never have too much black) and some colors also considered neutral like gray and navy.

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        Yeah, I’ll throw in the occasional gray. I also have a few pair of white (shudder) and soft pink – but I usually only wear those if they are the last pairs available and I’m desperate.

  • _lauristia

    Briefs, bikinis, brazilians, hipsters and boyshorts forever!

    Never ever thongs or gstrings, gross!

  • Amelia Diamond

    T H O N G Z

    • Bo

      Unbelievable

      • Meg S

        Gordon Ramsey narrated your comment in my head.

        • Bo

          Gordon Ramsey narrates most of my life in my head

          • Meg S

            Glad I’m not the only one.

  • Kelsey Moody

    Ass Mitten really should be your band name

  • Nicole

    Hey. I really like thongs, I’ve found comfortable 100% cotton ones, and they make me feel way less conscious about tight elastic panty lines reminding me that my weight has fluctuated here and there. They’re comfortable for me. They work with my butt shape. Why all the hate?

    • Patty Carnevale

      I love thongs, too. Wedgies are real. Maybe it’s my butt shape? Whatever. Full butt underwear is fun if I’m sleeping. I’m excited to be 80 and still wearing thongz.

      PS all underwear is, eventually, unsanitary, no?

      • Court E. Thompson

        I fully think butt shape is a factor! I love thongs and have never found a non-thong that doesn’t give me a double-check on both sides O_O

      • Jenn K.

        I used to suffer from constant UTI’s and the little pamphlet I got each time pointed out that thongs “floss” unwanted bacteria from one end to the other with each movement you make. That wasn’t my issue but I’ve never worn a thong since either ha! That’s where the “unsanitary” part comes from.

      • starryhye

        Fun fact: eons ago when I worked in retail, we had a very wealthy older customer (mid 70’s at the time) who wore nothing but Hanky Panky thongs. That was a sight to behold o_O

      • Kate Lippoldt

        OMG, yes – I’ll occasionally get this ‘oh, full undies are probably better’ crazy thought and then spend the rest of the day tugging those suckers back into place. My best curves are found behind me. That must be the issue. Down with wedgies!

    • Emily R

      Yes. I own maybe two pairs of full butt. I HATE them. They immediately wedge right in there. Boy shorts just roll up my meaty thighs and then I have a nice band around each leg. No thanks. Things forever!

  • Cristina

    All the hearts. I hate thongs. Which is probably why a relationship I had with a boy who preferred them failed. Solely on that reason, obvi.
    They are SO uncomfortable! I own one nude pair, like in case of an emergency but I can’t even count how long they’ve sat there, unworn lol.
    I went from fun, bright VS PINK to grown up, lacy, second skin type neutrals.. but now I’m pondering the existential question that there has to be better than VS out there. Their marketing people are A1, because I want to look like a supermodel, but without the underwear unraveling after a few wears. And their fabric and quality consistently get worse.

  • Charlotte

    “But somewhere along the line, I got the idea that underwear up the butt felt like teen spirit”. Haha! Perfect description of how I felt!

  • “But somewhere along the line, I got the idea that underwear up the butt felt like teen spirit.” lol, this is very true. Mine were purple, with a little fairy print on. Probably from Miss Selfridge. First and last. Never again. 😀

  • Harling Ross

    #MakeVPLGreatForTheFirstTimeEver

    • Hellbetty666

      I’m SO here for this.

  • Miranda

    True! So on board. But please, can we get some recommendations for alternatives that aren’t $60 a pair? 🙂

    • additionalmayonnaise

      https://www.ae.com/undies-aerie-hi-rise-boybrief-nude/aerie/s-prod/6443_5477_130?cm=sUS-cUSD&catId=cat7720178
      Just bought 7 of these and I have no regrets. (American Eagle I KNOW but go with me on this)

      • I bought 6 pairs of AE boybriefs in black for shark week, but I actually just wear them all the time because they are so comfortable and stay put.

      • sarah

        Agree! aerie has good ones on the cheap. Almost all my underwear is from there

      • FD

        OMG I know!!!! I’ve been buying my underwear at AE since I was 12 (i.e. over a decade), and I will never, never deviate. So sturdy, so comfortable, so reasonably priced.

      • ihaveacooch

        aerie underwear/sleepwear is gr8

    • Inaat

      I buy almost all underwear at Monki 🙂 Soft, and they have really a wide range in every fit.

  • am4

    Brazilan underwear achieves what thongs never will

  • Rachel Dlugatch

    Omg I relate to every single part of this– VS thongs to the Hanky Panky upgrade to the CK invisible hipsters!!!! Ahhhhh are you meeeee. There was a time in my life when I was embarrassed if I didn’t have a thong on, it was just too uncool or something. Now I hate them so much!

  • Bo

    I tried the whole thong lifestyle when I was on exchange in Germany because everybody wears them there (hashtag euro lifestyle, I guess) and it was NIGHTMARISH. I wear hello beautifully underwear now (organic cotton! High waist but also high cut leg! American made!) and have never looked back.

    • Grace B

      oooh which brand??

      • Bo

        Hello Beautiful! Warning: they’re like $38 a pop and only come in black or white (I do often nag the owner on Instagram to make pastel pink ones though) so I only buy a couple of pairs at a time to slowly build up the collection. But they are transcendental.

  • Suzan

    Ha very similar to my thong story! At age 12 (wait, it might have been 14 for me) it suddenly… felt appropriate and grownup or something to wear them. My first one was white and cotton, like thick cotton (where there lacked fabric on the cheek area, there was weirdly so much fabric on the top area, above the bum. It was the very early 00’s, that was probably it). So ugly and they looked even more horrible than any other thong already does because of the heavy fabric. So strange. It also took me a couple of years to get over that ‘trend’ (sorta self-imposed rite of passage?). And now I’m very happy with black, organic cotton briefs (€6,- per pair. The $130,- Eres pair had me smiling. I wonder how much money you’d have to make to be able to casually buy sort of regular looking briefs for that price :)).

  • alien princess~

    i am a recent hanes cotton undies convert and love it

  • Sarah Bauer

    VPL makes me feel sloppy. Any recommendations for comfy underthings to pair with tight, ‘technical’ fabrics during a spin class?

    • Nothing! You’re gonna sweat through it all anyway!

  • chouette

    I’ve been on this Hanes train since before Vetements (tried to) ma(k)e it cool again. There’s an underwear curse on my family – you can’t tell anyone your favorites, or they will be discontinued. RIP, 3/$10 lace edged Uniqlo high-waisted panties. You were amazing while you lasted. That said, I bought several thong bodysuits from American Apparel while they still had them, and am addicted? The thrill of those teen years, but an actual purpose of staying put without VPL on my one pair of light-colored office pants where VPL is just bad.

  • Leah

    I love wearing a thong. Being very tall means most pants aren’t long enough to cover my whole ass. Ergo, thong fits better.

  • Natalie

    “We were the living embodiment of Sisqó’s vision.”
    Perfect!!

  • Julie

    Could you provide some examples of good full underwear that doesn’t cost $50 a pair? I’ve been on the hunt for some good high waisted briefs for a while, but can’t seem to warrant paying that much for granny panties ;-P

  • Haley I swear you are reading my mind every time I read one of your articles. I have been trying to strategize a pro-granny panty campaign for quite some time. Who cares if you see a line? You see it, you move on. A butt looks good no matter what, #probutts

  • Ok this article makes me feel like a freakshow because I’m the only girl I know who loves thongs. To me they are super comfortable, I don’t even feel them. Any underwear that isn’t a thong? Terrible. Always rides up my buttcrack and gives me more of a wedgie feeling than any thong ever has. If I didn’t need a pad at night during my period I would own only thongs. Maybe it’s just my butt.

    • Alison Dick

      i’m with you

    • LEM

      Totally with you. Thongs are the only underwear I find comfortable. But I do 100% blame my big butt, which turns literally every pair of underwear into a thong anyway.

    • p. c.

      i know this is super old but i am here to say that thongs are the only kind of underwear i CAN wear. it goes like something something something bunches of fabric around my crotch something MASSIVE RASH THAT LITERALLY INCAPACITATES ME bleeding crying calling-out-of-work. i dread those period days where i have to wear big ol’ panties because, god, they destroy my delicate skin like none other. (to reference tho, i cannot wear most pants or jeans as the seams also tear my skin a new one) thongs literally changed my life as a teenager and i’ve never looked back.

  • Sabah Malik

    ‘But somewhere along the line, I got the idea that underwear up the butt felt like teen spirit.’ – I relate in every way #wedgiefreesince2009

  • My dad bought my first thong. Pour man thought he was picking up a sports-bra. I still have those thongs (they’re red, mind you), but I haven’t worn them in years.

    God bless granny panties.

  • Emma

    as i’m reaching the end of my teenage-era, i only have one thing to say; NEVER THONGS AGAIN

  • Stephanie

    Ass mittens. Your office must be hilarious for the term ass mittens to come up in conversation!

  • Never understood the obsession with thongs in the age of seamless. Even when I’m trying to be sexy, I go for some lacy cheeky numbers. My boyfriend prefers the subtle hint of bottom. Go figure.

  • I personally love thongs. But I also love… granny panties, tangas or cheekies or whatever people are calling them these days, boy shorts, high waisted non-granny panties, bikinis, briefs… The only thing I’ve never really loved is a g-string because it’s almost like… why am I wearing this? May as well go commando. Oh, which I also like on occasion. <3

  • starryhye

    100% Team Thong. You don’t have to worry about wedgies if you purposely give yourself one! They’re comfy for me and it’s what works. I won’t turn down a lacy boyshort, however.

  • KK

    Death to thongs and also underwires. Once you go comfort you never go back!!!!

  • Mary Beth

    Honestly thought this title was “Things are the Worst” and I was like ugh finally someone gets me.

    • Miranda

      Best comment ever.

  • Nick Smith

    I could NEVER get on board with thongs, and I didn’t even like how they made my ass look. #bikinis4eva

  • YES. tried seamless high waisted and never going back. also waiting on my first pansy set to come in the mail so v ~stoked~ for that as well

  • pamb

    *reading the comments for recs*

    My 16 year old is just now complaining of panty lines under her leggings. Off to Target to get a few pair of invisible hipsters for her to try!

  • What a fantastic and hilarious article! Captured my own journey through underwear! 🙂

    http://www.shessobright.com

  • Janna

    Thought this was going to be about how writing a thesis is the worst. Because IT IS #phdstruggles

  • I feel the total opposite! I think full-bum underwear are the most bunchy, uncomfortable things you could ever put on your body, and from the second I tried on my first thong, I was instantly so much more comfortable. Now they’re all I own. To each her own! 🤷🏼‍♀️

  • Basil

    The writer Caitlin Moran put it very well when she put forward the thesis that British political power was linked to the size of women’s underwear. When underwear went from neck to ankle, the sun never set on the British empire and over time women’s underwear, and British influence, have shrunk. Essentially – the thong is a symbol of cultural decline. And fecking uncomfortable

  • Abby

    I used to wear thongs all day, e’ryday. Until I had a baby. Nothing will put the brakes on the butt floss like third trimester hemorrhoids. I wanted to die, and not even from embarrassment…. from the PAIN. And even after that healed up, after you push out a 9 lb. baby, you will be wearing a diaper and maxipad for weeks.

    I made a large purchase of Gap Maternity undies to get me through all this, and while I no longer wear thongs, I at least have converted back to a more youthful seamless hipster that my husband actually finds attractive and that does not give me four butt cheeks when I wear leggings…..

  • Nina from Desa

    Yes!!!! I thought it was just me being “old” at 35 for not wanting to ever wear thongs again.

    Nina @ desa.life

  • Username

    i don’t understand thongs: they’re perma wedgies, how is that comfortable? maybe thongs are more comfortable for different body types but i’ve never had a problem with hipsters riding up. not to mention how we sort of stigmatize vpl and told to hide it at all costs. women aren’t allowed to be anything but perfect unicorns with shaved legs, no vpl and no bodily functions. sorry, but i wear underwear and if this bothers you…tough luck.

  • Fiona Foran

    WORD.

  • Fiona Foran

    PS…And just let me tell you, as a dressage rider, just how spectacularly appalling a thing feels under riding breeches. 😳😫