History of Thongs
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The word thong originated from an English word which means flexible leather cord. In its present meaning, thong refers to a type of under garment worn by both men and women beneath their clothes to cover their private areas. A thong is different from the traditional undergarment which covered the whole private underneath; this is because with the thong, most parts of the buttocks and upper part of the thighs are exposed. It is characterized by a very thin string at the back that enters in between the buttocks. Thongs are categorized in the class of lower body undergarments such as bikinis, G-strings, panties, boyshorts, girdle, tap parts and control brief. Thongs have evolved over time to become what they are today. (Dressel).
Materials used in making thongs
The materials involved in making thongs range from silk, leather, cotton, nylon and polyester. Depending on the kind of style a designer intends to produce, different materials would be used. For example, men’s thongs are normally made out of leather materials since they are mostly used in sporting events while female thongs are made out of silk material to bring out the sexy nature of the thong (Dressel). Female thongs are always preferred lighter to provide the necessary comfort required by the users. Consequently, materials such as nylon, silk and polyester are used to make the garment as soft as possible. Thongs that are made out of cotton materials are always encouraged to women who are in their menstrual periods because of the absorption capabilities. However, it is advisable that women in their menstrual period avoid the use of thongs since they do not offer enough bases to support the sanitary towels (Dressel).
The origin of thongs can be traced back to the loincloth which was an olden age piece of cloth meant to cover men’s genitals while leaving the buttocks open. The intention of the loincloth was to cover men’s genitals which were considered private. It was therefore used as a form of clothing in some societies while in others; it was used for symbolic purposes. Thongs were initially designed for men especially for the purposes of covering their genitalia and during the early years of its introduction, it served as a type of clothing rather than an undergarment worn by men. Unlike in the modern world where thongs are popular among the female population, thongs were mainly used by the primitive male persons to cover their genital parts and were rarely worn by women (Shteir 204).
The history of thongs dates back to the Khoisan people of South Africa and the Japanese Fundoshi who are believed to have introduced the earliest form of modern thongs. Though not seen as a fashion, many other traditional societies incorporated the use of thongs in their customs to serve as a way of covering nakedness. Thongs descended from an undergarment known as #
‘jockstrap’ which was used as a sporting undergarment to protect men’s genitalia. It is from this that the traditional societies adopted the use of thongs since they saw it as an excellent protective gear for the genitals. However, thongs did not become popular and fashionable until the late 19th century when Sharp and Smith Sporting Company officially introduced Jockstrap which was the initial form of thong as an undergarment cloth for sportsmen (Shteir 205).
Afterwards, thongs were used by stripers in nightclubs that necessitated a decree banning nudeness in clubs in America. Later, it developed to a bikini which has since been used as a swimming suit for women. All these were modifications that resulted into the modern thong which came into existent in 1974. South America was the first continent to embrace the introduction of the modern thong especially Brazil which has various beaches and restaurants along its coast line. It gained popularity in South America due to the climatic conditions in the coastal areas where most beaches were located and also served as an appropriate attire to relax in while on the beach. In the United States, thongs gained popularity in the 90’s with many people accepting it as fashionable attire especially the women (Shteir, 201).
The cost of a thong
The cost of a quality thong ranges from $ 16- $30 depending on the material, texture and the style one opts for. This is affordable to majority of American population given the developed nature of the economy. However, in undeveloped countries mostly in Africa, it costs a fortune given that most people live below one dollar in a day. This explains why the fashion of thong has not touched ground in undeveloped and developing countries. In those countries, thongs are considered as a product for the rich and models who want to expose their talents. However, in developed countries such as US, thongs are quite affordable and can be accessible to anyone. The cost of a thong depends on the quality and type of thong one wishes to have. For those who wish to have the latest arrivals and design, they would pay more for them compared to those that would be purchasing thongs that have been in the market for a longer period. In the same sense low quality thongs costs cheaper than high quality thongs made with materials such as silk and cotton.
Relevance of fashion to thong
Since the introduction of the modern type of thong, fashion has been the major contributory factor towards the growth of thongs worldwide. As people were eager to embrace fashion, thongs came in as a fashionable undergarment especially among women. It is to be noted that fashion events such as various fashion shows and modeling shows have precipitated the growth of the usage thongs. It is through these events that thongs have been popularized to many people across the globe (Yeager).
The capturing on Television and other photos of models wearing thongs as a modern fashion has encouraged many women to include them as part of their wardrobe. The coming into fashion of the term ‘sexy’ also had a significant influence on the usage of thongs. Consequently, wearing thongs was considered both fashionable and sexy among the female population. Therefore, thongs have been worn by many women in order to impress their partners since wearing the thong reveal their sexy and fashionable nature. It is as a result of this that most women have opted for thongs instead of the traditional underwear which are considered unfashionable in the 21st century (Yeager).
Therefore, designers all over the world are always on the look out for the most captivating design popularizing the thongs even further. Users on the other hand have become very fashion sensitive and would opt to go with the latest fashion available at whatever cost. It is as a result of this fashion trends that thongs became more popular in the late 20th century to date and has contributed greatly on its usage growth. It is as a result of fashion development that men’s thongs have also begun to be popular especially among the sportsmen such as body builders and the weight lifters.
The first designer of the modern thong was Rudi Gernreich in 1974. Since then, different designs, styles and types have been adopted by various designers all over the world. The different designs and styles are meant to allow variations in the selection among customers and other users. These designs have adopted a variety of thong styles namely; the traditional thong which is the most common with varying widths of the fabric; the G-string popularly worn by female strippers and is composed of a very thin fabric clothing in the waist and at the back with only a small covering of the pubic area. There is also the V-string which is the original form of thong that has a design similar to the G-string although it has a V-shape form at the back and is less revealing than the G-string; there is also the C-string which has no string tied around the waist hence holds itself within the body and thus completely eliminates the lines drawn by other kinds of thongs; dance belt is another design which was incorporated as a thong variety for male dancers; and lastly is the T-back that has strings tied together at the waist (www.ayushveda.com).
Since the introduction of the modern type of thongs, men’s thongs have not been very popular and until now, there are a few men who proudly wear thongs as an undergarment. However, most men have used thongs for sporting events such as body building. Unlike in the traditional society where men used thongs purposely to cover their genitals, in the modern world, very few men use it as a type of underwear. However, unlike during its inception, it has begun to gain popularity among some men especially in the United States and Europe where men’s thongs are regarded as hot stuff. Men’s thongs are quite different from female thongs; this is because thongs worn by men have a wider space in front of it to accommodate male genitals adequately. There are varieties of men thongs such as men’s microfiber thongs, mesh thongs, G strings, slinghot thongs, pouch thongs, velvet thongs, leather thongs and see through thongs among many others (www.ayushveda.com).
Advantages and Disadvantages of thongs
There are various reasons advanced in support of thongs. Most of the reasons are provided to support the women’s thong since they are the most popularly used in the modern world. One of the advantages is that thong is fairly small in size and are feather weight thus easier to store and carry. It is therefore advantageous to tourists and other travelers who would not like to carry bulky things with them as they travel. Therefore, one can carry as many thongs as possible without having the problem of space and weight. Secondly, most people interviewed have argued that thongs are the most comfortable form of underwear since it does not restrict flexible movement of the thighs unlike panties (Dressel).
The other advantage is associated with the women who are of the view that by wearing thongs they are much comfortable since thongs do not reveal any line on the outside clothing. Unlike other types of panties, thongs do have a very thing line which normally enters in between the buttocks thus prevents the possibility of any line drawing itself on the outside clothing. As a result, this provides much comfort to the user especially women who are fond of very tight clothing. Fourthly thongs are associated with fashions, therefore, it provides an avenue for people who are fashion sensitive to flow with fashion as it comes and goes. This is because; thongs come with a wide variety of selections and designs to choose from; for example thongs with different materials, different styles, different colors, and designs. All these provide an excellent opportunity to various individuals to embrace fashion thereby building the fashion industry. Another advantage associated with thongs is that it makes many people especially teenagers feel more mature. This is because; they have stopped using the traditional underwear worn by children (Yeager).
Despite the many advantages associated with thongs, there are also some notable disadvantages associated with them. Medically, it is said that thongs contribute to various urinary tract infections among the female population since the thong is always in contact with the vagina. When secretions ooze from the private area, they stick on the thong and given the long hours these thongs are worn, the secretions may attract the accumulation of germs and viruses that would lead to urinary tract infections.
Another disadvantage is that thongs are too tight hence they tend to form a cut around the users waist and thighs. In addition, genital infections have also been recorded among thong users especially women by various medical practitioners. This is as a result of constant usage of the thong and especially during menstruation which results into various bacterial infections.
In conclusion, it can be asserted that thongs’ usage has grown over time due to the wide spread of fashion. As a result of the changing fashion, thongs were able to be accepted in the society as a form of underwear. However, other conservative societies have not fully incorporated the use of thongs in their customs since they associate thongs with immorality. In US, a vice principal was reported to have banned the use of thongs by her female students and went ahead to even inspect each and every student to make sure that no one had put on the thongs. This shows the extent to which thongs have been accepted in the modern society. In my own views, the use of thongs should be not bring in controversy but should bring in more and more styles to improve on the already available ones. This indicates the growth of the society and would be strongly compatible with the changing world.
Amazon.com. Calvin Klein Men’s Body Thong. http://www.amazon.com/Calvin-Klein-Mens-Body-Thong/dp/B00062YMSS. Accessed on March 15, 2009.
Dressel, Neil. History of the Thong. http://pages.prodigy.net/lordshadow2/history_of_thong.htm. Accessed on March 15, 2009.
Shteir, Rachel. Striptease: A History. Oxford University Press US, 2005 pp. 201-207
Thongs – micro garment with macro effect! June 6, 2008.http://www.ayushveda.com/magazine/thong-undergarment-with-macro-effect/ accessed on March 15, 2009.
Yeager, Wendy. Why wear thong? http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/10203/swimsuits/why_wear_a_thong.html. Accessed on March 15, 2009.