Ah, the thong. My tween years were graced with its presence a little more often than I would have liked. I don’t have anything against them, of course. I mean, it’s underwear and it obviously has its purposes. But in the late ’90s and early 00s, thongs became a cultural phenomenon overnight. One day I was discovering what a thong was thanks to Sisqo’s “The Thong Song“, the next I’m seeing my classmates’ whale tales riding up the back of their velour sweatpants during science class.
The impact that the thong has had on our lives is fascinating, funny and a little twisted at the same time. See what I mean in this pop culture crash course of 10 notable moments in thong history.
In The Early 20th Century, Thongs Were Typically Associated With StrippersThongs were worn as pieces of underwear ever since the height of the primitive loin cloth. But the thong that we know and love today was primarily worn by strippers and other dancers in the early 1900s. You definitely couldn't pick one up at Macy's, that's for sure. Source: Shutterstock
The First Bikini Was A ThongIn 1946, French engineer Louis Réard introduced what he dubbed the "bikini" to the world...and by world I mean a popular swimming pool in Paris. As you can see, one of the original designs had a thong design. While it was popular among the French, Spain and Italy banned the bikini and Americans were equally appalled by its skimpy design. Bikinis didn't even take off in the states until Brigitte Bardot popularized it in the '60s. Still, the thong backing definitely wasn't trending. Photo Source: History.com
Thongs In The White HouseThongs slowly began to rise in popularity in the '80s and '90s. But the most explosive thong moment of that era? Well, remember when the 42nd President of the United States had a little affair with a certain White House intern named Monica Lewinsky? Well, apparently she flashed her thong at him and the rest is sexy scandal history. Photo Source: Time Magazine
The Thong SongSisqo's 2000 hit "Thong Song" really put thongs on the pop culture map. Hell, I definitely had no idea what a thong was until I heard this song as a 10 year old. Photo Source: YouTube
Celebs Started Showing Off Their Thongs As Fashion StatementsThongs weren't just a piece of underwear anymore. They became an accessory. Celebrities like Christina Aguilara and Halle Berry showed up with their visible thong straps on the red carpet. Photo Source: MTV/Wenn Photo
Abercrombie & Fitch Were In Hot Water After Marketing Thongs To Their Tween DemographicA&F aren't strangers to controversy and they were in a heaping pile of it back in 2002 when they sold thongs to their children tween demographi. When they weren't covered in cute little illustrations, they donned even cuter phrases like "eye candy" and "wink wink." Because what 10-year-old girl isn't trying to entice sex partners during recess, right? Yeah, ew. A&F eventually relented to the public outcry. Photo Source: CNN/Complex
Schools Start Cracking Down On The TrendAs students began to embrace the thong craze, schools started to freak out. It was one thing to make visible underwear a violation of school code, but it's another to ban thong underwear entirely like one California high school attempted to do. Or, you know, checking whether attendees of a school dance were wearing thong underwear like one vice principal did. The school official was, understandably, put on leave for violating the students' privacy. But these cases emphasize how this morphed into a witch hunt...or a panty hunt. Whatever you want to call it. Photo Source: Shutterstock
Thongs Became More Popular Than Ever With The Low-Rise Jeans TrendEven the panty hunt (let's go with that) didn't stop the thong trend. By the mid-00s, thongs weren't just about sex appeal or reducing underwear lines...it became about making sure people knew you wore a thong. It practically became a teenage rite of passage! Seriously, if you haven't experienced the joys of knowing which girls in your class wore a thong just by noticing the low rise of their velour sweatpants, you dodged a seriously awkward bullet. Photo Source: Thirteen/Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Iconic Manny Santos Thong SceneThis is probably one of the most legendary thong moments of pop culture: Manny's bedazzled thong on Degrassi. By this point forward, it was as if the thong craze jumped the shark. Once it becomes cool on Degrassi, it's time to pack it in, folks. Photo Source: Degrassi/Teen Nick
The Decline Of Visible ThongObviously people still wear thongs, but as the '00s progressed and as ultra low-rise jeans fell out of popularity, so did the prevalence of knowing what kind of underwear everyone wore. Now, thongs are definitely still a pretty sexy piece of underwear, but we, as a collective society, seemed to decide that it's a sexy piece of underwear best kept to ourselves. But who knows what the rest of the decade will bring. Maybe visible thongs will make a comeback. Just make sure to let me know so that I can make my arrangements to be launched into the sun. Source: American Apparel
So what’s your earliest thong memory? Any awkward or funny thong stories to share? Obviously we’re all ears, because who doesn’t love a weird thong story? Tell us about it in the comments!