Call Me Prissy, Butt…


 (Note to reader: I sweat sarcasm. If it sounds like sarcasm, it is. Also, check out some of the links here, there are some kick ass articles about the sexualization of young girls and the history of underwear. I had a blast “researching” this rant.)

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of butts and they all appear to be naked. They’re not, but that’s the point:  they’re trying to look naked. Ok, odd enough way to start this, but my brain works that way, and as I’ve said, this is where I talk about how I see the world around me. So, no doubt, I am about to set off all kinds of responses, but I’m up for the challenge; bring it on. That said, I’m just going to say right up front, for the record:  I do not think panty lines are such an evil thing, AND, I’m beginning to really question why and whether it’s ok, that things have moved so, well, left of naked.

For most of my life, women/girls would rather be caught picking their nose than have people think they didn’t wear underwear, look naked under their clothes, or have  their underwear or bra straps hanging out. Ok, picking your nose is a stretch, but it was once really a major no no to be viewed as that woman who was at best “loose” and at worst “asking for it” by putting your ass out there for everyone to see. For most of my life the idea was: underwear should be pretty, sexy even, comfortable, perhaps controlling, but not absent. Sure you had panty lines sometimes, but no one was trying to hide the fact that there were underwear under that dress, those jeans, whatever you were wearing. That, however, was before the thong. Today, it seems that nearly everyone is parading around with accentuated buttocks, all to avoid (cue drum roll) The Dreaded Panty Line.

To begin with, it really wasn’t that long ago that thongs were a sandal. Thongs were what we now call flip flops. That’s right kiddies, all you young thangs, we would say to our moms “have you seen my thongs?” and it wasn’t embarrassing. Actually, the terms are not entirely set in stone yet, though my kids would argue that “No one calls flip flops thongs!” However,  in other places thongs are still shoes, flip flops doesn’t mean much and people aren’t as confused.  The jury is still out, on the international scene. Just a few years ago, when the term flip flop was just taking hold and thong was still morphing in to tiny underwear, I was in our local Old Navy and I heard a grandmother call out to her teen grand-daughter, who was a couple of isles away, “Susie (not her name), look at these adorable thongs, they’d go perfect with that dress!”  Susie groaned and hid (as did Principessa, who heard it too), while Susie’s mom, chastised grandma and told her that “those were flip flops and that thongs were underwear”, with that ‘you are so lame’ tone that is usually reserved for teens talking to their parents. Poor granny (who wasn’t actually that old) looked mortified and utterly flabbergasted. When she looked my way, I shrugged and told her that I ‘knew exactly what she meant,’ with a roll of my eyes. Principessa and I had a brief debate about the wording and I was sanctimonious in my certainty that  this too would pass, and we’d be back to slipping thongs on our feet, with no more flip flopping about names, in no time.

Today, thongs make up 30% of all underwear sales, conservatively, and up to 90% of sales in some stores that sell to women only. They make thongs in sizes for young girls (I have personally seen them sold in size 8, children’s department); many moms, of all ages, are wearing them, and middle age and older women have embraced the trend as well. Bottom line: thongs are worn across age, size, ethnicity and cultural lines. It seems that virtually any woman may be willing to put up with a wedgie, to have that nice, clean, naked bottom look.  I know, many of my friends have told me that their Hanky Pankies are so comfortable, but I’m just not feeling it. They may be more comfortable than others, but I still see the goal as trying to look naked.

The way I see it, the entire idea of modesty around this subject, has changed. Let me be clear here, I am pretty far left of prude. I’m pretty comfortable with sexuality and the human body. I can appreciate a beautiful body, male or female, as much as the next left of prude person. I don’t squirm when people are naked in a movie, or in art. Hell, as many of my friends know, I celebrate the first and sometimes last day of school each year, with a naked brunch with friends. In a private place of course, but still, I’m not afraid to sit with friends and bare it all. Still, it still takes me aback each time I see some beautiful woman, and then realize that her butt appears totally nude in her Lululemons, her slacks, or skirt… or someone bends over and the top of their thongs rise above their jeans or clothing. I can’t help it, it feels like catching a glimpse of something private.  It just seems weird to see a Dr’s thong line; the waitress’ thong line; a friend’s line, under a thin summer skirt; young girls at school lifting their arms and there’s the thong. I can’t seem to get used to it, it just seems wrong to me.

I know, it sounds like I’m just walking around checking out butts all day, or that underwear has become a focus for me when I’m out in the world– that perhaps I’ve fallen in to a prude vortex. Ok, maybe I have a little. But mainly I just find myself wondering when it became the norm to try and look naked under our clothes, and where is all this naked headed? Or, as Pricipessa so passionately stated, when we discussed this post: “When did it become a bad thing to be modest?”  Pardon me while I now make a rant of hypotheticals:  How far can we push the boundaries?  What on earth could any parent be thinking when they buy these underwear for that size 8 girl? Why does any thirteen or fourteen year old girl need to hide her panty lines? Isn’t it hard enough for thirteen and fourteen year old boys to concentrate without being able to see the outlines of 13-14 yr old girls’ buttocks? I think it was bad enough when they were just imagining it. Has it really become ok in our society for even very young girls to be so sexualized and displayed in that manner? What other message is there when we try to so hard to make it clear that our underwear is not there, or, in the case of bras, part of our outfit. Instead of trying to pin back loose bra straps or find the right bra for an outfit, now women choose bright colors, sexy lines, straps that are meant to be shown. More flirtation, more suggestive.

I feel like The Church Lady here! Am I sounding more prudish by the moment? Am I simply becoming a middle aged woman who’s gone from liberal and free about things to old fashioned and prissy?  I actually wonder sometimes. I’ve had this conversation with plenty of other women, most my age, but some Principessa’s age (21) and I know there are other possible prudes out there with me, but the widespread media, the fashion and celebrity world all seem to laugh in my face. When Vogue is marketing a cover with a ten year old girl (yes, you read that right: TEN years old, that’s fourth grade folks!) as a very sexy model, in numerous pictures and people are buying it, what does that say to women of all ages?  Look naked, be sexy and put it out there baby! Plain and simple.  It’s creepy says this priss,  plane old creepy. I remember when it was a REALLY big deal that Brooke Shields, then fifteen, posed for Calvin Klein jeans and it was front page “news” everywhere: magazines, news, talk shows . When you look at those adds now and compare them to some of what is out there today, it’s really eye opening. Am I just digging my “you’re getting old” grave deeper here? Should I throw in “and I had to walk ten miles to school in the snow!”

Check it out for yourself.  Note: for me, both of these images (above) are concerning. Brooke was still only 15 in this ad (left), but when you compare the two, it seems even more shocking that Thylane (right) is only 10! When you see her in a picture with her mommy, with no make-up, no sexy stilettos, hair or make-up, she is a baby!  A baby selling a very sexy image.

I can’t help it; I squirm; I cringe; this bothers me.  How can young girls not feel pressure to be sexy and exciting (only a few steps away from actually having to act on that image, I believe) when so many mothers are dressing more like their teen daughters, models and sex symbols are in middle school or younger, and they actually have to worry about whether people might (God forbid!) think that they’re actually wearing underwear. And while I have no problem with women trying to look good at any age, or wearing clothes that flatter their figures, it just seems that we’ve moved so far off what was once “proper” that the lines are completely blurred. Oh, that’s right, there are no lines!

I have to admit, each time I put my Lululemon yoga pants on, these things run through my head. Perhaps not all of them, but more than I’d like. Admittedly, I knew when I bought the Lulus that they gained fame for making any woman’s butt look good. They do.  So I bought in to that even before worrying about the underwear. However, it’s a slippery slope.  Now, when I put them on, I also think: what does good looking mean, and will my underwear show? Is naked part of the equation? Will all the other yoginis in the class look better in their tights, because they’re wearing thongs? Should I wear mine, so my butt looks good too?  Right, these are the very principals of yoga that are most important!  Right after each Sun Salutation, my yoga teacher is certain to say: “Be sure to breath and please make sure your underwear are not showing, fix those panty lines ladies.” (sarcasm)

Share your thoughts. Do you think this isn’t really a problem and underwear is underwear?  What do you think of the trends in advertising that use young girls to sell sexy images. I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this article, please hit Like and use the Share button to pass it along. If you want to get the latest posts, Subscribe and you will get an email each time I post a new entry. You will not get any other mail. And if you’re new to this site, check out some of the older posts, by hitting the Archive button.

If you’re interested in this topic, You might also enjoy:

http://roughdraft.typepad.com/dotmoms/2003/12/tween_a_thong_a.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/kiki-kannibal-the-girl-who-played-with-fire-20110415

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_impact_of_thong_underwear

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/10-year-models-mom-defends-racy-vogue-pictures/story?id=14262329

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2022305/Thylane-Lena-Rose-Blondeau-Shocking-images-10-YEAR-OLD-Vogue-model.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/WolfFiles/story?id=92696&page=1

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Beauty, Daily Observations, Honest observations on many things, Humor, Musings, My world, Parenting, Women's issues, Yoga and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Call Me Prissy, Butt…

  1. Kim Stoloski says:

    Dawn
    You are so right. When shopping for my little girl I was sickened by short shorts with writing on the butt. I really don’t want people focused on my six year old’s bottom. The suggestive things written on shirts too. The only place I could find affordable clothes that were age appropriate was Target. In schools I see how young girls come dressed and it makes me sad. I guess you can call me Prissy too.
    Peace
    Kim

    Like

    • Glad to know I’m in good company! This topic has been running through my conversations and thoughts for a while now and I just needed to throw it out there. I tried to reign it in a bit, as there’s a lot to this topic. There’s no doubt, when I look around, that things have really gone too far. Thanks for reading the post and taking the time to share your thoughts. 🙂

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  2. I cringed when I’d see the thongs (and cracks) of young teachers. What happened to a professional work dress code? But the thongs- my daughter’s are no more than a bit of dental floss. I’ve tried Hanky Pankys- the “mature” womens’ thongs- not bad but still prefer old -fashioned cotton! Good post.

    Like

  3. Shelly (Geraghty) Monteiro says:

    Great read!!! Now my take…. The Hanky-Panky’s are the only thong that doesn’t ride up your butt and although it is called a thong it doesn’t resemble the feel of a thong in any way, shape or form! Ok my take…. I think seeing someones thong or underwear is inappropriate …. it should be just that underwear…. not for the world to see…. don’t get me going on the bra straps and pj’s crap. The feel of a HP thong vs undies when wearing shorts of slacks is more preferable and much less cumbersome than a panty and has much more to do with comfort than the dreaded “panty line”. As for the sexuality position I have to agree that the younger generation is using it for just that and not the comfort factor.

    Like

    • I agree Shelly, that it’s comfort for plenty of women, but think the whole looking bare is a bigger motivation in most cases. I don’t really have an issue with what makes women happy, I just find the whole trend strange and troubling at times. It’s bound to bring up lots of opinions though, and I figured that. Some of the articles I found while trying to support some of my thoughts, were very interesting too! thanks for continuing to read and for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  4. Joe says:

    The dictionary defines a fad as “a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal.” Every fad has a life cycle. The fad is first accepted, then embraced and finally abandoned.

    Like

    • I agree with the definition, hard to argue with the dictionary! 😉 However, plenty of fads become trends or the norm, over time; not all are abandoned. Few listen to records anymore, as the fad of CDs became the norm. The “fad” of automobiles… well, need I say more? Women did not wear pants for most of our history, but now rarely wear dresses. I suspect the discussion here, the trends here, will continue and possibly ease, but I am doubtful that we will swing back too much. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      Like

      • Joe says:

        Some lyrics from one of my fav groups, come to mind when I read these things: Be careful little eyes what you see
        It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
        Be careful little feet where you go
        For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
        It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
        It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
        Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
        When you give yourself away
        People never crumble in a day
        It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade
        Be careful little ears what you hear
        When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
        Be careful little lips what you say
        For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

        It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
        It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
        Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
        When you give yourself away
        People never crumble in a day

        The journey from your mind to your hands
        Is shorter than you’re thinking
        Be careful if you think you stand
        You just might be sinking

        It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
        It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
        Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
        When you give yourself away
        People never crumble in a day
        Daddies never crumble in a day
        Families never crumble in a day

        Oh be careful little eyes what see
        Oh be careful little eyes what you see
        For the Father up above is looking down in love
        Oh be careful little eyes what you see

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  5. Heidi Alford says:

    I still call them thongs, or Zories. I don’t call them flip flops, even if that is what they do when you wear them and walk in them. But, that aside, I think you are right in your observation about the sexualization of young children. I’ve had people defend letting their young children wear young versions of adult outfits and I just don’t get it. I’m modest. When I see a younger teenager wearing short shorts like the movie star in a movie whose name I can’t think of, I wonder: are they comfortable? Is it because it’s so hot outside? What do they think people think when they see such short shorts anywhere but at the beach?

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    • Joe says:

      Suppose in who you ask. If you label yourself a Christian then the word of GOD is pretty clear about dress.

      I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. (NIV, 1 Timothy 2:9-10)

      Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. (NIV, 1 Peter 3:2-5)

      Like

    • Totally agree Heidi! We are of like mind, you and I. I’m not sure that the kids really understand what others might think and project and that’s a scary thing. There are some very creepy people out there, not just modest people questioning! thanks for reading my post and taking the time to respond. Love you much. 🙂

      Like

  6. Brian says:

    Dear Prudence, er, I mean Dawn–first off, well written. You mention, refer back to and embellish the points throughout the piece.

    As for panty lines, I never quite understood the hangup society has with it. Panty lines or not is not the focus when, ah, how do I say, taking in the scenery. Anyway, back to this naked brunch thing. Is that a sit-down or buffet style?

    Like

    • Thanks for reading Brian, glad you enjoyed it. It would be funny to think that all of us women have worried about panty lines and getting it all to look good if, in the end, the “scenery” would have been appreciated either way! As for brunch, I’ll leave that to reader’s imagination… it’s a grand day for sure. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.

      Like

    • bcritt123 says:

      I’m seeing some OJ, toast (careful where the crumbs land — if yer neked), maybe some soft boiled eggs (I’m making myself hungry). Great article — I’m getting tired of people (ladies) who would rather look naked than have panty lines (naked brunch OK though 🙂

      Like

      • Welcome to TFTM! Thanks for checking out this old(er) post! Much appreciated. I love that you took the time to read it and comment. It’s always fun to see what people think of the posts we right. I hope you’ll check out a few other posts and let me know what you think. 🙂

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  7. Valery says:

    OMG, couldn’t let this one slip by… I laughed through most of this blog! You go, girl! Yes, I remember wearing thongs on my feet. And yes, I remember transitioning to the other thongs, briefly. (pun intended) This reminds me of an incident with my teenaged niece – she needed to borrow jeans and tried mine on. We’re roughly the same size, but she came out baffled: “Why don’t these fit, the crotch is almost down to my knees?” I busted a gut telling her, “some jeans actually have a waist that does NOT sit at or below your, um, private parts – pull ’em up, girl!” (This is also the girl with the lavish tattoo that blooms up out of her butt-cleavage.) Ewwww!

    Like

    • Oh the age gap! If jeans don’t sit on your hips, several inches below your belly button… they are not jeans to young thangs! And thongs are just necessary… for some. Thanks for your continued support Valery! Makes me smile every time! 🙂

      Like

  8. lakshmistar says:

    well, i am of the generation that always just assumed that panty lines were bad and never even thought about the why of it all. that said, thongs weren’t around when i was a kid (and my no-makeup-wearing, comfort-first, hippie mother NEVER would have bought them for me), you just didn’t wear things that showed your lines. i felt like panty lines, like bra straps, were tacky. i think it’s possible even that clothes were made a little differently back then. because it wasn’t until more recently that i’ve felt like pants that i tried on showed any lines if i weren’t wearing a thong… just a thought…

    in terms of the sexualization of children, i completely agree. it has absolutely no place in clothing or advertising. the whole thing makes me a little sad, to be honest.

    good blogs, i enjoy reading! 🙂

    Like

    • I do think that clothes have gotten much tighter and revealing and that probably contributes a lot to the whole line issue… either way, a bummer to work around an figure out! Thanks for reading Lakshmi and for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

  9. Nicole says:

    Great post with lots of humor! Especially the part about the grandmother shouting to her teen granddaughter about thongs.
    About young teenage girls showing their skin, I agree, it just doesn’t seem right. Times have changed – some of it not for the better.
    You write very well and keep the reader interested. I enjoy your blog and your thoughts and opinions.

    Like

    • Well thank you, thank you, thank you Nicole! It’s wonderful to get great feedback and hear that what I’m writing works for the people reading it. That is what I wanted when I started and I want to keep trying to improve or at least be consistent. So, thanks for reading it and for giving some wonderful feedback. I hope you’ll check out some of the older posts and share your thoughts.

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  10. Coleen says:

    It’s all about covering appropriately and dressing with care. For me, thongs are comfortable and they make it so that I can wear my clothes without worrying about messing up the silhouette with panty lines. They also pack up about 70 times smaller than your average pair of underwear, making for more space in my traveler’s backpack. I prefer the feel of thongs under tight pants and leggings because they have a lower chance of getting all bunched up.

    I’m absolutely opposed to thongs hanging out of clothes, however. It is just careless. Wear a longer shirt.

    Like

    • Thanks for the feedback Coleen. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and share your thoughts! I just can’t get used to the thong, but I hear you and know that lots of my friends feel the same way… Clearly LOTS of women do! And yes, can not stand to see those things popping out of waistbands… hello! Thanks again for reading. 🙂

      Like

  11. Sharon says:

    Dawn,

    It’s funny to think that thongs represents what we used to consider “wedgies” in our day. I, myself, went through the “feel young again” stage after my divorce and bought hip huggers so I could show off my bellybutton ring. Of course, thongs were part of that freedom but I’m afraid short lived since I couldn’t find a pair I found comfortable enough to forget I was wearing them. I’ll have to try those hanky pankys that Shelly mentioned. 🙂 Also, as a mother of a 16-year old boy, I also wonder how these impressionable young men concentrate with all that skin showing on their female classmates. What’s wrong with dean sweaters, turtlenecks and loose corduroys?

    Like

    • Totally agree with you Sharon! There is also the teen boy thing! I just feel weird walking around in my tights (which I wear sometimes after yoga) and knowing my son or his friends could tell I had a thong on. NOT that they care what I wear, but the thought runs through my head. As for how that effects them at school, I think it must be insanity for them! Or, maybe they’re just desensitized? nahh.

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