Thursday, May 29, 2003

Thong spotting gets easier

Low-rise jeans give rise to a lot of bare derriere

By Gina Daugherty
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Latresha Lane, 24, (left) and Ranel Jones, 27, show off the low-rise jean and thong look.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
Plumber's butt. You know, that blindingly pale patch of derriere that peeks out from between a shirt that rides up and pants that slide down. Most commonly seen when a beefy plumber or other worker reaches or squats while on the job. Most common until recently, that is.

The Amana Effect is no longer just a boy's club, as women are baring their posteriors - sometimes intentionally, sometimes not - in the name of fashion. Low-rise jeans have booty poppin' out all over the place. Everyone is getting cheeky.

Call it the new cleavage.

At Bee Clean Car Wash in Mason, Annamarie Minturn and Cassie Thierauf, both 19, are baring their butts (albeit unintentionally) every time they lean over a car, bend down to vacuum or wipe down a tire. Thierauf's rhinestone-studded thong is there for all to see. She doesn't mean to, but when your pants hug your hips, it's bound to happen.

James Laver, costumer/designer, offers his "Laws on the Timetable of Style" which says that fashions have a timetable:
Indecent - 10 years before its time
Shameless - Five years before its time
Daring - One year before its time
Dowdy - One year after its time
Hideous - 10 years after its time
Ridiculous - 20 years after its time
Amusing - 30 years after its time
Charming - 70 years after its time
Romantic - 100 years after its time
Beautiful - 150 years after its time
Fashion has always taunted social mores, but the past century has really pushed the limits of taste:
Early 1920s - Flappers, short haircuts on women; cowl neck and halter top
Late 1920s - Knee-length hemline marks new high for women's legs
1950s - Stiletto heels come into fashion
1955 - Marilyn Monroe stands over subway grate for movie Seven Year Itch and flashes movie-goers her white panties
1960s - Bell bottoms, hip huggers and go-go boots define "mod" scene
1970s - Hot pants. Enough said.
1984 - "Anything goes" emerges as fashion credo
1990 - Madonna starts wearing lingerie as outerwear, complete with cone-shaped bras
1999 - Britney Spears wears midriff-revealing Catholic school-girl outfit in Baby, One More Time video
2000 - Jennifer Lopez wears eye-popping, barely there Versace dress to Oscars
2000 - Britney Spears makes news again, this time wearing a nude, two-piece body suit to MTV Video Music Awards.
Dress codes try to stay in step
"It's not that I have them low so my thong can hang out," explains Thierauf. "It's a product of the pant."

Indeed. The space between Thierauf's belly button ring and the top of her jeans is at least three inches. She says the distance is greater on some of her other pants.

It's virtually impossible to find jeans to cover your hipbones these days, and finding them to cover your cheeks continues to get harder. When Sisqo rapped, "Let me see that thooooong," he probably didn't have to look very hard.

The thong is an absolute must for Latresha Lane. She runs Fast Lane Models in Cincinnati and without the thong, she and her models would be out of business. Visible panty lines (or VPL) are not an option.

'They show off your waist'

For the rest of us, our low-rise, hip baring jeans are causing all kinds of VPL. Some jeans are so low there isn't enough room for a zipper, as is the case with Levi's Too Superlows, which feature two snap buttons instead.

Technically speaking, the "rise" of jeans is the distance between the crotch and waist. The average rise is about 10 inches. But on low-rise pants, it can be as little as 6 inches, depending on the brand.

Recent University of Cincinnati graduate Marianne Pusz, 23, loves low-rise jeans. She won't wear anything else and says they are a "godsend to women with big butts."

"They show off your waist," Pusz says. "But if you don't have a butt, it's not going to make you look better by having your butt hang out. Older women wear the waist-high jeans, and it doesn't matter if you're the skinniest woman on the planet, they are going to make it look like you have a butt the size of Texas."

A dogged advocate of keeping cracks and thongs out of public view, Pusz buys Victoria's Secret low-cut bikini briefs. She tried going "commando" (sans underwear), but says it was "excruciating." The low-rise jeans phenomenon has led to a low-rise panty phenomenon.

Pusz is unbreakable in her resolve against panty showing, and she quickly decides only Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani can get away with it.

"Don't give me that, 'Oops I did it again, my thong is hanging out,' " says Pusz. "Unless you are Britney Spears, forget about it. If you are wearing low-rise jeans and regular underwear, you should be carted away. Panty lines plus showing your underwear is the cardinal sin of low-rise jeans."

Big shocker that Ryan Nesbitt doesn't mind, though. An 18-year-old from Mason, he has nothing against a half-inch to an inch of butt cleavage on a "Tara Reid-type" woman. "Bootylicious," he says.

All this butt cleavage has school administrators and some parents reeling. Not everyone wants to see the gluteus maximus in school, not even in anatomy class.

The Fairfield City School District last year revised its dress code to specifically address midriffs and low-slung pants.

"I think the dress code we had in place was 99 percent adequate," said board member Ann Crone. "But as styles and fads change, it needed to be tweaked to adapt to our student population."

Basically, the district agreed it doesn't want to see any midriffs or butt cleavage.

Take it from a plumber

Still, fashion comes and goes, so enjoy it now, as this butt-baring might be outdated by fall. Don't fret, though. There's still plumber's butt, unless Joe Schlueter has anything to do with it.

The owner of Schlueter Plumbing Inc. has been in the business for over 35 years. He has worked hard to shed the plumber's "showy" stigma. His plumbers wear uniforms.

"I can't guarantee you won't see a little butt crack," Schlueter says. "Plumbing does involve bending over a lot ... But we are conscious of it and we want to put someone in your home that you feel comfortable with."

And that's just better for everyone.


Thong spotting gets easier
Dress codes try to stay in step

'Maids' director serves audience well

Count on Hope for laughter
Presidents didn't escape punch lines
Artist transforms her image for snapshots
Opera keeps Jewish folk hero's memory alive
Top 10s
The Early Word
Get to it!