Discover more from The Allure of Nymphets Newsletter
From the 1939 World's Fair to TikTok: A History of Teen Thongs
Back in 2015, Lucy Mapstone posted on the Daily Mail that "Hailey Baldwin looks stunning in tiny polka dot [cheeky thong] bikini on yacht [...]" And in the post, Mapstone opined: "The 18-year-old model displayed her impeccable bikini body [...]"
Unlike Mapstone, we were surprised to see teen Hailey Baldwin in a cheeky thong. And we asked, "When did teens start wearing (cheeky) bikini thongs?!"
Thanks for reading The Allure of Nymphets Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Let's attempt to answer this question by starting with the history of the (teen) bikini. According to Rupert and Lichfields' piece in The Independent “Boom and Bust: The nuclear age and the bikini age” (2006), garments resembling the bikini date back to 4500 BC; however, they were worn for active wear and not for swimwear, which was done in the nude.
Per Rupert and Lichfields, the modern bikini was introduced in 1946 by Jacques Heim, a French designer, and Louis Réard, an engineer, who happened to be managing his mother's lingerie business. Interestingly, Réard hired Micheline Bernardini, a 19-year-old nude dancer, to model his bikini when it was introduced. The press and public were shocked, because it was the first swimwear design that exposed the navel.
According to Time's "Evolution of the Bikini":
Bikinis were banned from worldwide beauty pageants after the first Miss World Contest in London in 1951. As the tasteful one-piece continued to reign supreme, the bikini was later also banned in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Australia, and it was even declared sinful by the Vatican.
However, after the bikini was worn publicly by actresses such as 19-year-old Bridget Bardot, whom was seen on the cover of popular magazines like Sports Illustrated and featured in blockbusters like James Bond's Dr. No (1962), the bikini became more and more accepted around the Christian world. (Interestingly, per the New York Times’ Roger Vadim obit, 15-year-old Bardot began an affair with 21-year-old Vadim, the director of Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971), which was based on Francis Pollini's shocking teacher-student affair themed novel. The age-gap couple eventually married - after Bardot turned 18.)
However, the thong may have been invented before the bikini. (#counterintuitive) Per Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, the thong was invented in New York City to "cover" exotic dancers during the 1939 World's Fair.
The thong is a literal byproduct of the sex industry. In 1939, New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia insisted that the city’s exotic dancers cover their genitals for the World’s Fair, and the thong was born to placate his decree while exposing the maximum amount of skin.
Ariel went on to relate that, as we know, thongs are no longer relegated to exotic dancers but that thongs have become the "underpants of choice" for (some) nymphets:
Now they are the underpants of choice for pubescent girls. I saw Hello Kitty thongs for sale at the mall; Abercrombie & Fitch—which markets to seven - to fourteen-year-olds—makes a thong that says WINK WINK and another that declares EYE CANDY; the teen chain store Hot Topic sells a Cat in the Hat thong; Delia’s has a little cotton thong with Bart Simpson on the front and another that asks FEELING LUCKY? with a green four-leaf clover stamped on the crotch. The urban youth web site Dr. Jay’s has rhinestone Playboy bunny thongs with matching camisoles.
To elaborate, Abercrombie & Fitch started selling “lighthearted” WINK WINK and “cute” EYE CANDY thongs for pre-teen nymphets in 2002. In response to the controversy surrounding the items, Abercrombie & Fitch responded: "The underwear for young girls was created with the intent to be lighthearted and cute. Any misrepresentation of that is purely in the eye of the beholder." [Emphasis added]
Not to be outdown, in 2002, Argo started selling tiny G-strings, padded bras and packs of thongs to UK based pre-teens. Suzanna Chambers wrote in her Daily Mail piece “Outrage as Argos sells G-strings for children” (April 14, 2002)
High Street chain Argos has been branded irresponsible for promoting a range of sexually provocative lingerie designed for primary schoolgirls. The underwear, which includes tiny G-string pants and padded bras, is advertised in the store's catalogue for girls aged between nine and 16. The Tammy range, sold for as little as £5 for a pack of four thongs, also includes a 'loveheart' underwear set in pastel pink and thongs with I Love Me emblazoned on the front.
By 2008, Bhs, a retail chain, began selling edible G-strings - next to toys. Poulter and Borland shared in the Daily Mail post “Parents condemn Bhs for selling edible thongs, nipple tassels and other sex gifts next to children's toys” (November 14, 2008):
Parents have condemned Bhs for selling nipple tassels, edible G-strings and breast-shaped stress relievers alongside toys. The retail chain, owned by billionaire Sir Philip Green, insists the raunchy Christmas gifts are 'harmless fun', but it has been accused of sinking to crudity in an attempt to boost sales.
However, before Bhs started selling edible G-strings to nymphets, teens had been buying tons of thongs. So much so, that the parents of Hamp Junior School primary school students had to be “[...] urged by a head teacher to stop their daughters [from] wearing thongs to a primary school.”
In the BBC report “Pupils warned not to wear thongs” (May, 28 2003), we learned that (some of) the 10-year-old and 11-year-old schoolgirls at Hamp Junior School regularly wore thongs. Interestingly, Anna Roxburgh, the head teacher, shared that she did not object to nymphets in thongs, but that she was concerned about them possibly being embarrassed while changing or playing:
Anna Roxburgh wrote to parents of girls aged 10 to 11 at Hamp Junior School in Bridgwater, Somerset, after hearing that some had the skimpy undergarments.
The letter read: "This is not due to any personal objection on my part, but out of concern for the girls' possible embarrassment while changing for PE or playing out in the playground - falling over or playing handstands and so on.
"I have also told the girls that their choice of undergarment would not be checked up on, nor would anything further happen."
However, some of the Hamp Junior School parents said that they would not prevent their pre-teen daughters from purchasing and wearing thongs (to school):
Kate Strathearn, who received a letter, said she would not be banning her 11-year-old daughter from wearing thongs to school.
She said: "I was surprised the school was not keen on thongs. I see nothing wrong with them.
"I have not told my daughter not to wear them and I do not ask her in the morning what she is wearing. She is 11 and she has a good head on her shoulders."
Another mother, Annie Milton, said she thought the letter was "unbelievable", adding: "Schools lay down enough rules without going right down to undergarments."
While Roxburgh suggested that nymphets should avoid wearing thongs to primary school and thereby implying that she condones nymphets in thongs outside of school, Michele Elliott, director of child protection charity Kidscape, opined that pre-teens in thongs are "inappropriate".
Elliott said: "Thongs are designed to be sexy. Thongs are designed to ensure that you do not show a panty line through tight-fitting clothes.
"Why on earth would you send a child to school with clothes that tight?
"It's a child protection issue in terms of embarrassment, safety, as thongs are inappropriate."
In the end: "A spokeswoman for Somerset County Council said: 'It's up to the individual school to decide the the code of dress.'"
And across the pond, Levy wrote that “everybody” at Oyster Bay High in New York shared with her that they wore thongs. And Levy related a story about a middle-school nymphet (“who was 12 or 13”) at Head-Royce in California whom: “[...] pulled up her shirt, pulled out the strap of her thong from under the side of her skirt, and snapped it [...]”!
And in bit of art imitating life, Ilana Kaplan related in the Vulture piece "What Euphoria Owes to Degrassi, the Godfather of Taboo Teen Dramas" that Maddy's (high school) teen thong scene in Euphoria reminded her of Manny Santos’ (middle-school) teen thong scene in Degrassi: The Next Generation:
In Euphoria’s fourth episode, Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) shows up to a carnival in a racy two-piece outfit that looks more like it belongs at a club in Atlantic City than it does at a high-school event.
That’s when I remembered another major moment in teen TV history: the iconic thong episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. The 2003 episode, titled “U Got the Look,” centered its plot on Manny Santos’s (14-year-old Cassie Steele) desire to go from “adorable” to “hot.” So, naturally, she does what any teen would do: She shows up to school clad in a crop top, a pair of low-rise jeans, and a blue-studded thong (more than) peeking out of her jeans.
Kaplan wrote that Manny's desire to go from an "adorable" middle school student to a "hot" nymphet was not only natural but that it was realistic. (#understatement) And that Manny's thong paved the way for future racier teen dramas (e.g., Euphoria).
Years before Euphoria, Degrassi was the boundary-pushing teen drama of its era. The Canadian franchise [...] became famous for its realistic, and often scandalous, plotlines featuring sexuality, drugs, abortion, abuse, and school shootings.
Euphoria, which features provocative narratives ranging from [...] a character finding confidence by being a cam girl, owes its ability to tackle such taboo teen story arcs to Degrassi. Manny’s thong, alongside countless other Degrassi moments, paved the way for teen dramas to get bolder, racier, and more complex.
In addition, Kaplan wrote that the Degrassi teen thong episode was "iconic" and had "realistic and often scandalous, plotlines featuring sexuality". And that the show "[...] created story lines that teens actually encountered in reality." (Interestingly, Kaplan gives one the impression that she condones high school coeds finding their confidence via being cam girls, but it's safe to assume that Kaplan does not condone men patronizing teen cam girls.) (#onewaystreet)
Cassie Steele (Manny) shared with Lauren McCarthy in her Nylon piece "Cassie Steele Agrees - DeGrassi's Manny Walked So Euphoria's Maddy Could Run" (Feb 21, 2022) that her 14-year-old thong scene was "exhilarating" and that it opened doors:
I remember thinking, "Oh, my butt looks terrible in these pants there's this camera on my butt". And I'm 14 at that time. It was exhilarating, but also very nerve-wracking. So I feel like it opened a lot of doors for me [...] it was definitely a blazing path to go down.
And to commemorate the episode, 32-year-old Steele recreated the DeGrassi thong scene with a TikTok.
Even (some) schoolgirls in young adult novels don thongs. For example, in You’re the One That I Want: A Gossip Girl Novel (2004), Blair Waldorf, in preparation to lose her virginity before graduating from prep school, purchased a classy bra-and-thong set from Barneys.
Blair Waldorf licked her glossy lips and tucked the grown out wisps of her dark brown pixie cut behind her ears. Underneath her plain black Polo shirt and gray Constance Billard uniform she was wearing the new turquoise-silk-and-black-lace underwire bra-and-thong set she’d bought in Barneys’ lingerie department.
However, the question remains: When did teens start wearing thong bikinis? To help answer that question, let’s recap My Father the Hero (1994). Here's the IMDb synopsis: “A teenage girl on vacation in the Bahamas with her divorced father tries to impress a potential boyfriend by saying that her father is actually her lover.”
In the film, which was adapted from, Mon père, ce héros (1991), 14-year-old Nicole (Katherine Heigl) has an insatiable desire for the older men at a Bahamian resort. In an effort to attain the affection of the ephebophiles, Nicole attempted to make them jealous by pretending that her approximately 45-year-old father was her lover. When questioned about the age of her travel partner, Nicole replied: "He's not that old. Besides, I like older men."
Most relevantly, 14-year-old Heigl appeared in the film in a very revealing white bikini thong, which unsurprisingly caused some backlash in the media. For example, Chris Hewitt wrote in his review of the film for the Boca Raton: The News (February 4, 1994) that the film:
[...] stars a 14-year-old girl whose body we are asked to ogle and admire. And its main premise is how funny it would be if she convinced vacationers at a Bahaman resort that the beefy, 45-ish man she's traveling with is her lover, when all the time we know it's worse: The man she says is her lover is really her father.
Heigl may not be the only teen to be seen in a bikini thong prior to Baldwin, but since Baldwin wore her cheeky thong bikini while yachting, there have been a deluge in teens in bikini thongs.
For example, the Next Influencer (2020) is a teen reality show, that, per In The Know: “[...] follows the [teen] residents of Project 305, a creator collective in Miami, as they create content together 24/7 and compete in a series of challenges that put their creativity (and personalities) to the test.” In addition to a teen girl-on-girl kiss scene and teens twerking, a number of the TikTokers wore cheeky bikini thongs during the “challenges".
And speaking of TikTokers, Brenda Dennehy posted on the Daily Mail that "[Teen] TikTok star Fernanda Gimenez goes braless in a see through mini-dress" (March 2, 2022). Dennehy started off by sharing the reason the topless teen (@ferchugimenez) attended the world premiere of The Batman in Manhattan was for clout (i.e., attention):
Fernanda Gimenez made sure all eyes were on her as she arrived at the world premiere of The Batman in New York City on Tuesday.
The TikTok star commanded attention as she went braless in a sheer mini-dress on the star-studded red carpet.
Fernanda, 19, left almost nothing to the imagination as she put on a steamy display with her content creator beau Sebastien Andrade.
Dennehy went on to opine that the "stunning" braless teen looked "sensational" and that the "Uruguayan beauty" rose to fame on social media. Per Famous Birthdays, Fernanda was born on November 13, 2002; thus, we can determine that she began posting "stunning" and "sensational" videos on TikTok shortly after her 18th birthday. And to the dismay of ultra orthodox Jews and practicing Muslims, Dennehy opined that Fernanda's teen thong was modest.
Fernanda, who rose to fame by sharing performances on her social media account looked sensational in the daring ensemble.
The Instagram model contained her modesty by wearing a black thong which showed off her peachy [teen] derrière.
The stunning brunette teamed the ensemble with a pair of black high-heel platform sandals which showcased her incredible pins.
The Uruguayan beauty styled her luscious locks up while leaving some curtain bangs framing her flawless face.
Unsurprisingly, teens in bikini thongs have gone beyond TikTok to OnlyFans. For example, Bernie Zilio posted on Page Six that "Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen's daughter Sami, 18, joins OnlyFans". That’s correct. Charlie Sheen’s 18-year-old daughter has an OnlyFans where she models, you guessed it, bikini thongs.
Thus, there you have it - a history of the teen thong. Even if we’re naive and assume that the exotic dancers whom were made to cover with thongs at the 1939 World’s Fair were not teens, by the very early aughts, teens in thongs were thriving.
Although, 15-year-old Katherine Heigl wore a bikini thong in My Father the Hero, which was released in 1994, and 18-year-old Hailey Baldwin frolicked in her (cheeky) thong back in 2015, it appears that, due to TikTokers slash Influencers, the teen bikini thong is now thriving. Yet, we would imagine that even your most anti-burkini French islamophobe would prefer that her daughter did not wear a bikini thong to la plage.
Thanks for reading The Allure of Nymphets Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.