Social impact of thong underwear

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The social impact of the thong has been covered extensively in the media, ranging from a ban on wearing thongs to thongs for the underaged. The rise of thong usage has been linked to a rise of sexual fetish in society[1] and a rise in the desire to go unclothed.[2]


When discussing the trend of wearing thongs Sharon Daugherty comments in her book What Guys See That Girls Don't: Or Do They? that the fashion industry "may have changed the mindset of our society",[3] which was followed by the observation that "the whole idea of wearing so that no panty line or bumps can show isn't substantiated" and that "the thong was created by fashion designers to arouse sexual thoughts".[4]

Thongs have a significant news presence that covered items that ranged from indecent exposure to thongs in popular culture. One of the biggest thong controversies surfaced in November 1995, when a thong flash by Monica Lewinsky played a pivotal role in her seduction of U.S. President Bill Clinton in what would become the Lewinsky scandal.[5] According to feminist commentator Carrie Lukas, Lewinsky "with her thong-snapping seduction, forever changed the image of the D.C. junior staffer from aspiring policy wonk to sexual temptress."[6]

Marketing analysts Marian L. Salzman, Ira Matathia and Ann O'Reilly observed in the book Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand that thong brands are riding on the wide media coverage of thongs to create buzz.[7] Photographer Lauren Greenfield wrote in her book Girl Culture, "Understanding the dialectic between the extreme and the mainstream – the anorexic and the dieter, the stripper and the teenager who bares her midriff or wears a thong – is essential to understanding contemporary feminine identity."[8]

In 2004, political commentator Cedric Muhammad wrote in essay The Thong versus the Veil, "We wondered at the end of the day, of the two groups of women most prominently featured on American TV these days, who gains more respect for their intellect and spirit – the Afghan woman who is so totally veiled that you can't even see her eyes or the Black woman in the R&B and Hip-Hop video who dances while wearing a bikini and thong?"[9]

Campus controversies[edit]

Thongs in schools and colleges have generated controversies and debates. The responses of various schools have been distinct and varied. The dress code for St. Ambrose Academy, a Roman Catholic middle school and high school in Madison, Wisconsin, specifically addresses swimsuits with "thong-cut legs" as inappropriate.[10] At Dixon High School in Dixon, California, the dress code specifies that all undergarments – specifically listing thongs, along with bras and briefs – must be covered.[11] University of Victoria Law School briefly put the school logo on thongs, but quickly pulled them from sale after controversy sprung up.[12]

In 1999 a Miami University male professor was banned from using the school's recreation center because he refused to stop wearing thong swimwear. The professor challenged the school in court.[13] In 2000 a Salinas High School principal was in the center of a variety of controversies including bans on clothing to the extent that "thong panties were unofficially banned." One student alleged that she was given a dress-code violation note for wearing a thong.[14][15] This story made national headlines in the United States.[14][16]

In 2002, a female high school vice principal in San Diego physically checked up to 100 female students' underwear[17] as they entered the school for a dance, with or without student permission, causing an uproar among students and some parents and eliciting an investigation by the school into the vice principal's conduct.[18] In her defense, the vice principal said the checks were for student safety and not specifically because of the wearing of thongs.[19][20][21][22][23] In 2003, the head teacher of a British primary school voiced her concern after learning that female students as young as 10 were wearing thong underwear to school. This incident led to a media debate about the appropriateness of thong underwear marketed to young girls.[24]


  • The University of California 4-H program specifically forbids "string, thong or crochet" swimsuits for women.[25] For men, the dress code specifies "swim trunks only (no shorts, cut-off pants, or Speedos)." A similar policy by Virginia FCCLA bans "skimpy bikini or thong type suits" for women and specifies "swim trunks" for men ("no speedos").[26]
  • In 2001, Vicky Botwright, then 16th seeded in women's squash circuit and dubbed as the 'Lancashire Hot Bot', was prohibited by Women's International Squash Players Association (WISPA) to wear her trademark outfit, a thong and a sports bra, in the British Open Championships.[27]
  • In 2004, Alexander Putnam competed in the London Marathon in a green thong and painted as a tropical tree to protest against logging in Congo.[28]
  • Female bodybuilders in America are prohibited from wearing thong or T-back swimsuits if contests are being filmed for television, otherwise they are allowed to do so by certain fitness organizations.[29]


  • The video game Mass Effect received an M-17 rating by the ESRB in large part for including characters wearing thongs.[30]
  • In 2006, sunbathers were threatened with a ban for wearing thongs on Paris Plage, a beach on the River Seine in France.[31] Earlier, in October 2002, Florida officials banned thongs from Daytona and other public beaches.[32]

Thongs for younger minors[edit]

The 2000s saw a rise in the popularity of thongs among younger girls, who have been dubbed "thong feminists" by comedian Janeane Garofalo. The trend has been attributed to pop idols like Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.[33] In 2002 Abercrombie & Fitch released a line of thong underwear targeted for girls ages 10–16, though critics pointed out that children as young as seven could fit one of the thongs.[34][35][36] A spokesman for A&F, Hampton Carney, stated that he could list "at least 100 reasons why a young girl would want thong underwear."[35] This controversy spawned a great deal of free publicity for Abercrombie, including a chain letter that received wide circulation.[37] British retailer Argos produced child-size thongs and padded bras for girls as young as nine, eliciting a similar response from the public.[38][39] Etam, another British retailer, produced sheer tops and thong underwear for girls of similar age.[40] In Japan, photobooks and DVDs of underaged girls in T-back thongs has become popular as "T-back Junior Idols", which has come under scorn as a new form of child pornography.[41]

Indecent exposure[edit]

  • In August 2007 a man in Texas was arrested for being naked in his own backyard. He reported that he was in fact wearing a thong and not naked.[42]
  • In 2007 reports surfaced in Florida of a man wearing a thong or g-string walking around at 4 am, spurring police reports and a news release. Though police confirm that no laws were broken, the article refers to those who saw the man as "victims."[43]
  • In 2006, Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees was stripped of her crown when her indecent pictures surfaced, including one showing her pulling down pants to reveal thong underpants.[44]

Other controversies[edit]

  • A YMCA management firm has addressed thongs in dress code policy, stating (in different areas) that "thong-type wear isn't an issue." Additionally, an email from a university fitness center implied that there are safety issues ("thongs on bike seats") that would need to be addressed.[14]
  • In 2007 a man who had broken into a home wearing only a thong was sentenced to 20 years in prison for burglary and attempted rape.[45][46] He pleaded "guilty but mentally ill" at the May trial and was sentenced in July.
  • In 2007 the Tennessee Department of Correction banned prison visitors from wearing thong or g-string underwear. In the words of Correction Commissioner George Little, prisoners "don't need any help getting turned on."[47]
  • After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, thousands of thongs were included in relief packages to Sri Lanka.[48]
  • During photography for Google Street View, a woman in a thong was one of the images discovered that caused consternation over the project.[49]
  • In 2005, the New York Daily News reported an incident of female United States GIs in Iraq stripping down to their thongs to participate in mud wrestling as an entertaining show.[50]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In 2000, R&B singer Sisqó recorded the "Thong Song" on his Unleash the Dragon album.
  • Writer-director Glen Weiss made three movies titled the Thong Girl, based on the comic book of the same name.[51] The story of the films revolved around the Thong Girl, an independent superhero. Parts of the film were shot in Nashville's mayor's office in 2007.[52]
  • Beermaker Rolling Rock aired a commercial poking fun of male thong wearers during Super Bowl XLI.[53]
  • Shefali Zariwala, a model in India, became known as the "thong girl" for her performance in the music video of the song Kaanta Laga.[54] The album sold two million copies and the music video became an overnight success in India.[55]
  • In 2008, a diamond studded thong worth US$122,000 was featured in a Singapore lingerie fashion show. It had 518 brilliant-cut diamonds, totaling 30 carats (6.0 g), studded into the front of a black lace thong in a floral pattern, as well as 27 white gold tassels hanging off it.[56]

Thong organizations[edit]

Formed in 2005, the Blue Thong Society is a women's social group similar to the Red Hat Society but with a somewhat younger demographic, typically between the ages of 35 to 65.[57] This group for rebellious women who want to flaunt their youthfulness into middle age has grown nationally to more than 200 chapters and nearly 4,000 members.[58][59] Similar other organizations have also surfaced that bear names like the British Thong Society,[60] the Scarlet Thong Society,[61] the Pink Thong Society,[62] and the Black Thong Society.[63]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oneil McQuick, The Sexuality Series, Page 29, L.I.M Publishing, 2007, ISBN 1-4196-4225-1
  2. ^ Philo Thelos, Divine Sex: Liberating Sex from Religious Tradition, Page 52, Trafford Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-55395-400-9
  3. ^ Sharon Daugherty, What Guys See That Girls Don't: Or Do They?, Page 61, Destiny Image Publishers, 2006, ISBN 0-7684-2368-6
  4. ^ Sharon Daugherty, What Guys See That Girls Don't: Or Do They?, Page 63, Destiny Image Publishers, 2006, ISBN 0-7684-2368-6
  5. ^ news story[dead link]
  6. ^ Carrie Lukas, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism, Page 21, Regnery Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-59698-003-6
  7. ^ Marian L. Salzman, Ira Matathia and Ann O'Reilly, Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand, Page 116, John Wiley and Sons, 2003, ISBN 0-471-27345-7
  8. ^ Lauren Greenfield, Girl Culture, Chronicle Books, 2002, ISBN 0-8118-3790-4
  9. ^ Laura Flanders (ed.), The W Effect: Bush's War on Women, Page 181, Feminist Press, 2004, ISBN 1-55861-471-0
  10. ^ "Ambrose Academy website". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Dixon High School". Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  12. ^ "Indissent, University of Victoria". 10 August 2003. Archived from the original on 2003-08-10. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Salon[dead link]
  14. ^ a b c Monterey County Weekly[dead link]
  15. ^ "Metro Active". Metro Active. 14 September 2000. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "CNN transcript". 13 September 2000. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  17. ^ 9:00 am PDT 17 June 2002 (17 June 2002). "Channel 10 news". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  18. ^ NBC San Diego[dead link]
  19. ^ "> News > North County - 2 on RB High staff faulted for checks of undergarments". 2002-06-05. Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  20. ^ "> News > North County - Demotion possible for assistant principal". 2002-06-16. Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  21. ^ "USA Today". USA Today. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "CBS News". CBS News. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  23. ^ NBC San Diego[dead link]
  24. ^ "Bbc (Uk)". BBC News. 28 May 2003. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "University of California, Davis". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  26. ^ VCCS FCCLA website[dead link]
  27. ^ All thong wrong, BBC Sports Online
  28. ^ "Mara-thong" Man runs from Congo loggers, Rainforest Foundation
  29. ^ Maria R. Lowe, Women of steel: female bodybuilders and the struggle for self-definition, page 191, New York University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8147-5094-X
  30. ^ Listed in: Xbox 360. "ESRB gives Mass Effect M-17 rating for partial nudity, thong underwear". Retrieved 2013-03-14. 
  31. ^ Paris beach ban rules thongs to be beyond the pale, Telegraph UK
  32. ^ Alcohol-soaked spring break lures students abroad, USA Today
  33. ^ Grin and bare it, San Francisco Chronicles
  34. ^ "CNN Money". CNN. 28 May 2002. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  35. ^ a b JS Online[dead link]
  36. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (24 May 2002). "New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  37. ^ "Break the Chain website". 6 June 2002. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  38. ^ 20 Feb 2007 (20 February 2007). "(UK)". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  39. ^ This Is Money (9 July 2001). "(UK)". Daily Mail (UK). Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  40. ^ The Sun (UK)[dead link]
  41. ^ Photos of preteen girls in thongs now big business, Japan Times
  42. ^ "San Marcos Daily Record "Backyard exposure leads to arrest"". 8 August 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  43. ^ Greenlee, Will (28 December 2011). "TC Palm "Witnesses report possibly nude man walking between homes in PSL neighborhood"". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  44. ^ Disgraced Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees Asks for a Second Chance After Being Stripped of Her Crown, FOX News
  45. ^ WPCO 9 (ABC) "Thong-Wearing Burglar Sentenced"
  46. ^ "WKRC 12 (CW) "Thong Robber Sentenced to Prison Time"". 24 July 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  47. ^ "Fox News "Tennessee Bans Prison Visitors From Wearing G-Strings, Sexy Lingerie"". Fox News. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  48. ^ "FreshPair news release". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  49. ^ "» Google Street View Showing Sunbathing and A Woman’s Thong » Blog Archive » SEO/SEM News". 3 June 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  50. ^ Female soldiers dress down & get dirty for mud romps G.I.S GONE WILD, NY Daily News[dead link]
  51. ^ Lloyd DeBerry. "Thong Girl". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  52. ^ In Dissent[dead link]
  53. ^ "SplendAD". SplendAD. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  54. ^ 'I'm India's original thong girl', Times of India
  55. ^ Indian Government censors music videos, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  56. ^ Diamond thong shown to the throng Reuters
  57. ^ "Iowa City ladies, get out your thongs", Iowa City Press-Citizen
  58. ^ Organization unites women[dead link]
  59. ^ "Blue thongs show up in Tustin", OC Register.
  60. ^ "British Thong Society". Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  61. ^ Scarlet Thong Society
  62. ^ "Pink Thong Society". 22 October 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  63. ^ "Black Thong Society". Black Thong Society. Retrieved 1 January 2012.