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Original Issue


Of all thingsassessed by so-called experts, clothes are the least competently analyzed.However inept a book reviewer may be, at least he must go to the trouble ofreading a book; the movie critic watches a movie, the automobile adviser drivesa car. Fashion authorities, however, deliver judgments merely by (so to speak)squeezing the Charmin. Especially when something radical or bizarre—or both inthe case of the bathing suit known as the thong—is presented, it should berequired of the experts themselves to try the bloody thing on, and not merelyattend PR sessions or accept the doubtful evidence of glossy photographspeopled by individuals who look like driftwood.

I put on a thong.To be generous, I will say that it is only as uncomfortable as it appears. Onthe other hand, it is ugly.

Nonetheless I paytribute to Rudi Gernreich, the designer of the thong; he was also creator ofthe topless bathing suit a decade ago. Gernreich, who seems to be rather abenign and more whimsical Clifford Irving, is only to be commended for securinggargantuan amounts of publicity from witless media-ites who take his humbugsseriously.

Certainly itshould be apparent by now that there are only so many basic ways to adorn thehuman body. It is not fashion merely to devise peculiar new arrangements,anymore than it would be football with 14 men in the huddle. Gernreich'stopless bathing suit managed somehow to make bare breasts unbecoming and, inthe bargain, did equal esthetic violence to those portions of the body itcovered. The thong is no less incompatible with the human form and is alsofrightfully painful. Wearing one feels rather like being held up on a meathook, and to spare you the necessity of going through any hasty anatomicalspeculation, I have been assured that the thong is every bit as excruciatingfor chicks as it is for us fellas. There is some solace, perhaps, in thatGernreich has thus reduced unisex to a painful absurdity.

An excuse ofsorts might be offered were the thong titillating. But, alas, when a thongo anda thonga first peer at one another like Adam and Eve just after the initialapple bite, their thoughts are far from lascivious. Along with the agony thereis the growing realization that all of the things on both of you are either outof shape or in the wrong place. As a daring swimsuit, the thong manages to bediscouraging for swimming and sex alike.