A G-string (alternatively gee-string or gee string) is a type of thong, a narrow piece of cloth, leather or plastic that covers or holds the genitals, passes between the buttocks, and is attached to a band around the hips, worn as swimwear or underwear by both men and women.
The two terms G-string and thong are often used interchangeably; however, they can refer to distinct pieces of clothing. The primary difference between the two garments is that a G-string has less material between the legs and buttocks, hence a string-like appearance. Variants of the G-string include the V-string, a thong with a triangle "V" of cloth at the top of the rear, and the T-string, where a single string passes around the waist and between the legs, forming a T between the buttocks.
The G-string or thong is probably the earliest form of clothing known to mankind; having originated in the warmer climates of sub-Saharan Africa where clothing was first worn nearly 75,000 years ago. Many tribal peoples, such as some of the Khoisan people of southern Africa, wore thongs for many centuries. Much like the 2000-plus-year-old Japanese fundoshi, these early garments were made with the male genitalia in mind.
Although developed for the male anatomy by primitive peoples, in the modern West thongs are more often worn by females. They first gained mainstream popularity as swimwear in South America, particularly in Brazil in the 1970s. In Brazil, where the buttocks ("bunda" in Brazilian Portuguese slang) are especially admired and emphasised, it was originally a style of thong swimsuit whose rear area became so narrow that it would disappear between the wearer's buttocks. Female strippers and erotic dancers in the west have been wearing G-strings and thongs during their routines since the mid-1920s.
The origin of the term "G-string" is obscure. The term is first attested in writings by Americans in the late 1800s describing the loincloth of Philippines natives. In the "Philippines Islands" entry in the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, the term "geestring" is used. Others say the term is derived from the G-String on a musical instrument, but it may just be an abbreviation of "groin-string".  The word "thong" comes from the Old English thwong, a flexible leather cord.
There are a number of intermediate styles between full rear coverage and a string rear. Like the tanga, the G-string is essentially a bottom covering that covers the pubis and leaves the buttocks bared. The term G-string is generally used when the vertical strap in the rear of a thong is no wider than a string. Other similar styles include the Brazilian, Rio and T-back (T-string). The naming of the intermediate cuts is debatable, and different vendors use the words somewhat interchangeably.
Popularisation in the Western culture
Attitudes to wearing G-strings vary, as is usual with highly revealing clothing. By the late 1980s, the design (for females) had made its way into most of the Western world; thong and G-string underwear became more and more popular through the 1990s. As of 2002, thong underwear was one of the fastest-selling fashion styles among women. One advantage attributed to the wearing of thong underwear is that no visible panty line can be seen even under a thin, light-coloured or skin-tight garment. Although the popularity of wearing thong underwear in America has taken off only in the last decade, in Europe it has been commonplace for many more years.
There are several variations on the G-string. An example of one variation is the C-string, as narrow as a thong but without the band around the waist, leaving just a "c-shaped" piece between the legs held in place firmly by a flexible internal frame. Newspaper articles about the C-string appeared in The Sun and the Daily Mail.
Since there is no material around the waist, the C-string completely eliminates the panty lines which thongs and other underwear create. C-strings are also designed for use as beachwear, which reduces the tan lines that would have been left by the side straps of even a G-string. Removing the side straps also eases donning and removal.
In the USA and Europe, the wear of G-strings or thongs by men, was once mainly limited to the dance belt, the posing pouch and the realm of male strippers. 4% of men polled prefer thongs. They are also used by men who don't want visible brief lines. For example, popular male wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle don't want visible brief lines under their wrestling suits.
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