Let's Get One Thong Straight

So there I was, last Saturday afternoon, strolling through the aisles of my local drug store with a friend when I saw something on the shelf that made me stop short. I waved my arm (almost toppling an elderly man innocently browsing nearby) and proclaimed with a dramatic flourish, "There it is, the product that has changed my life!"

My friend peered at the shelf more closely, and promptly burst into laughter.

We were, after all, in the feminine hygiene aisle. And the product I had pointed out to her so emphatically was none other than "The Thong Maxi."

Okay, so this seems like a contradiction in terms, or at least a very strange pairing of disparate quantities. A sexy delicate little thong and an adhesive, semi-bulky, quilted cotton pad? Who in their right mind would consider wearing a pad instead of a tampon when wearing thong underwear anyway? Well, I for one -- and apparently enough other women out there that someone was savvy enough to design not only "The Thong Maxi" but my other new savior, "The Thong Liner."

Ladies, it's time to celebrate.

Let's get one thing straight: Not all thong underwear is sexy and delicate. I've worn a pair of nice sturdy cotton thongs in a variety of solid colors and prints every single day of my life since about 1988.

Something interesting happened in 1988; did you notice? Suddenly, thong underwear morphed from a slightly nasty g-string derivative luxury item to just another undergarment option, available in everyday fabrics in durable designs instead of just a few bits of silk held together with lace. Machine washable, even! Now, why was this such a breakthrough?

Nobody loves the visible panty line. These days it's hot to see the outline or even the actual straps of a thong peeking out of one's low-rider stretch jeans, but the other kind of outline -- the one that gives you the dumpy double-chinned-butt look -- has never been sexy to any generation. The everyday thong has saved us from that fate.

Personally, I have never found conventional underwear even remotely comfortable. During my brief hippie years I often went sans culotte -- or what my partner calls "commando style" -- but there comes a time in an adult woman's life when this becomes unfeasible. So when a dancer friend introduced me to the everyday thong in 1988, I bought ten pairs, wept for joy, and never looked back.

Except for about three days each month. Pad technology just wasn't ready for the thong in 1988. For three days a month I was back to bikini briefs; until, in frustration, I started experimenting with what I will call "feminine product origami."

I invented an elaborate system of adhering a pad to a thong and intricately folding the protruding end corners around to the back, sometimes even securing them with a piece of surgical tape. Because let me tell you, friends, there is nothing worse than having your short and curlies snagged by some of that double force maxi-pad adhesive strip at inopportune moments during the day. You want that sucker nailed down and in place.

I can hear critics asking: Why doesn't she just use tampons? Honestly, unless I have to go swimming or for a long bike ride, I'd just rather not be plugged up when I'm flowing. I once got some slightly toxic-shock-ish syndrome effects many years ago and I've been wary ever since. Which is why, about three months ago, when I saw Thong Maxis and Liners on the shelf at the store, I grabbed three boxes of each and ran to the nearest register.

Here's what I like best about the advent of the Thong Maxi: the concept itself. Product designers are finally ready to acknowledge that women are wearing sexy underwear everyday, even during their period, a fact of life which may finally be close to becoming liberated from its mantle of stigma.

Wishful thinking, I know. But I remember the clear relationship between the second wave of feminism in the 70s and the first major wave of feminine hygiene product re-designs: Adhesives replaced sanitary belts. And the brand was called "New Freedom." Now that's what I'm talking about. Products that can change your life.

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