Jennifer Nelson:Dancing the thin red line: A thong song

This is not the voice of an angry 20-something. Nor is it the voice of a young woman past her prime. This has nothing to do with what they have and I don’t. Or what I had and lost.

This is the voice of confusion. This is the voice of reason.

Teen-age girls baffle me. Teen-age girls, with their bare midriffs and low-rise jeans. Their open-toed sandals in the dead of winter. Teen-age girls who think they’re too cool for jackets and so choose to go without. The way they talk (as if no one is listening, even when they know everyone is) and walk (like no one is watching, even though they know that people are).

But more than anything, it’s in the way they dress.

Beyond the fashion statements lies a threat to feminists everywhere. It’s not in the sliver of flesh that dances between the bottom of their sweaters and the tops of their jeans. And it’s not in the too-blond highlights and the padded bras.

It’s in the least likely of places: their underwear.

Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.

The return of low-rise has no doubt left many wondering what to wear underneath. And many girls, I can’t help but notice, still choose the standard thong, forcing anyone within viewing distance to behold those three little strings peeking curiously out from the backs of their pants.

Ladies, I’m here to tell you that there is another option, a more respectable option, and I beg you to consider it.

No, it’s not to go without (although it’s not a bad idea). It’s called the low-rise thong, and it was designed to fit underneath the lowest of the low-cut pants.

But more than that, I like to think it was designed to preserve what little dignity women have left.

In this world of dirrty [sic] little girls like Britney and Christina, isn’t it nice to know that the designers down at GapBody and Victoria’s Secret still have the feminist movement in mind? How else can we possibly explain the emergence of the little low-rise?

Some fashion historians trace the thong’s first public appearance in the United States to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia made it required for the city’s nude dancers to cover themselves. But it’s fashion designer Rudi Gernreich who has been credited with introducing the first thong bikini in 1974.

Since then, it seems the thong has been an almost invisible, but no less acknowledged, fashion staple. That is, until now. Now, every time I turn around, one meets my eye. Not in bold defiance, but in ignorant submission.

To all the girls who think it is necessary to bear their underwear for the world to see: Have a little respect. If not for yourselves, then for the women who made it possible for you to wear pants in the first place. And for those of us who have enough sense to keep this mad little world moving forward by refusing to reduce ourselves to sex symbols.

The line between sexy and slutty is finer than any panty line you’ll ever see.