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Should Bodysuits Always Be Thongs?

Four Racked editors discuss comfort, VPL, and, of course, butts.

Photo: Missguided

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Like everything else that was cool in the ‘90s, bodysuits are in the middle of a huge resurgence. ASOS sells them by the two-pack for around 30 bucks, while most luxury shops stock at least a few basic styles by brands like Wolford, Protagonist, or Khaite for upwards of $250.

At Racked, most of us can agree on the function of a bodysuit — they’re the easiest way to create a smooth, unfussy, tucked-in silhouette. But we’re 50/50 split on the garment’s bottom half. To be specific: Should it be a thong, or should it absolutely not be a thong? Can a bodysuit serve the same smoothing purpose with full-coverage bottoms? And are thongs made even more uncomfortable by having a shirt attached?

Such questions have been lighting up our office instant messenger for weeks. Things got so heated last time that we decided to pull the conversation off the keyboard and talk face-to-face about butts, body shapes, and our tolerance for self-imposed wedgies. The following is a transcript of how it played out between four Racked editors — Britt Aboutaleb, editor-in-chief; Tiffany Yannetta, shopping director; Aminatou Sow, editor-at-large; and Meredith Haggerty, senior editor — with myself, Cory Baldwin, shopping editor, moderating.

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Send us an email at shopping@racked.com and let us know what you think.


Cory: We’re here today to talk about thong bodysuits. Their merits, their horrors. I'm going to start off with the two staffers in full support, Britt and Tiffany. Please state your case.

Tiffany: I’d like to begin with this: A bodysuit is a smart garment, because it keeps everything nice and smooth and tucked in. Obviously, you have to tuck it in. That's what the whole bodysuit is for.

Cory: If you're not tucking it in, you right there are doing something wrong.

Tiffany: Yeah, you literally have to tuck it in.

Cory: Let me just say, for the reader, that a bodysuit is like a leotard, but not for dance.

Tiffany: Oh, do people not know what bodysuits are?

Cory: Just in case.

Tiffany: Yeah. So we are talking about the fashion bodysuit, underwear plus top in one. The whole point of the fashion leotard is to keep everything nice and smooth and tucked in. You can't do that if the bottom of your leotard is full-blown, full-coverage underwear because you're going to see panty lines. The whole point of the bodysuit is to eliminate any lines or wrinkles.

Britt: What we were trying to say is a bodysuit helps create a smooth silhouette. If I’m wearing high-waisted pants and an oversized man’s shirt I am constantly tucking it in. But if I have a bodysuit on it's just a smooth, polished, pulled-together look. You can't have a smooth, polished, pulled-together look with a visible panty line.

Cory: So your major beef with non-thong bodysuits are visible panty lines, a.k.a. VPL?

Britt: Yes, because the whole point is to create a smooth silhouette, but you're disrupting that silhouette with your panty lines.

Cory: Okay, we've got Meredith over here shaking her head no very strongly.

Meredith: I would like to say the fear of a panty line is a tool of the patriarchy. The idea that we’re not supposed to be wearing underwear is absurd to me! Also, one, I do not want my shirt connected to my underwear, that's gross. Two, any garment where if you shrug you're going to give yourself an active and painful wedgie is insane to me.

Britt: Okay, I’d like to address your first point: Your shirt isn’t connected to your underwear; you wear underwear with the bodysuit. You wear a thong.

Meredith: What?! You have two strings in your butt?

Amina: What? You wear underwear, and then you wear your bodysuit? That is insane.

Cory: This is a very interesting turn of events. As the moderator, I’ll put out there that this is a choice, not a necessity. Personally, I do not wear underwear with my bodysuits unless I am planning to not have to do laundry for a while.

Tiffany: Well, it also depends on the way the bodysuit is made, right? This is the same argument with tights. If tights have a nice cotton crotch panel, no, you don't have to wear underwear. But if they are really synthetic and weird, you want some underwear. With most bodysuits, you just wear a thong under it, and then you have the other thong over it, and it's fine.

Amina: This is just women justifying their own oppression.

Britt: But I don't feel oppressed. I love wearing thongs!

Amina: You know who says that? Oppressed women. Okay, here is the problem for me with thong bodysuits: You're setting yourself up for failure. I wear bodysuits all the time, but they are really inconvenient. When you have to go pee, it's a hassle. You add a thong to that element, and now that's two problems you have voluntarily created for yourself. Also, I refuse to believe that there are people wearing thongs under their thong bodysuits.

Meredith: Right! That's so much going on.

Amina: I’m not a doctor, but I did speak to a gynecologist about thongs and let me tell you: She definitely used some very alarming words like “hemorrhoid” and “rupture.”

Britt: Oh, shit.

Amina: But here is the other thing: It's actually not true that you don't get VPL if you're wearing a thong or a thong bodysuit. It has more to do with your body shape and the actual garment that you're wearing, plus the garment that you’re wearing over the bodysuit. VPL is very subjective and people are more paranoid about it than they need to be. There are more reported incidents of VPL than actual VPL. I'd like to see the numbers on that.

Tiffany: I don’t know about that. When I wear a bodysuit that isn’t a thong with tight jeans, I sort of just… turn it into a thong.

Cory: You give yourself a wedgie on purpose?

Tiffany: When you're moving around, your butt swallows the material anyway! So I just put it there myself and I don't have the VPL.

Amina: Why would you voluntarily give yourself a wedgie?

Cory: She likes it.

Britt: Because VPL sucks.

Meredith: I'd like to make a list of things you can't do in a thong bodysuit. Like, wave at a friend.

Britt: Yes, you can. If it fits you right it's not going to ride up.

Tiffany: If you're buying one that is not long enough for your torso, whether it's a thong or full coverage, it's going to ride up. You have to find the right size.

Britt: It has to be the right material, just like any thong. A cheap thong is uncomfortable.

Amina: I’m being very open-minded about this. I feel like I've learned a lot in the last 20 minutes about everybody's tolerance for things that go in or near their butts. But if it’s not a piece of clothing that can be democratic and work for everyone, I don’t know if I can get behind it.

Meredith: I just know that I'm personally never going to have a smooth line on my body in my life, and so anything like a bodysuit that perpetuates the idea that that could happen is stressful for me.

Amina: Here is my last feeling on this. Especially now that I know women I love and admire wear them, which really threw me for a loop. If thongs are indeed comfortable for you and you're not killing yourself to fit into this weird ideal of what your butt is supposed to look like in your outfits, then I suppose it can be okay about it.

Britt: All right, well that is settled.

Tiffany: Well, we win.

Cory: I'm not going to announce winners or losers here. I think it all depends on your butt.

Amina: It's very clear that I won. I’ve never had to wear a thong before.

Cory: Your butt, your choice.

Meredith: That's fair. I can live with that.