Ok, so sometimes vintage sexist advertising is totally hilarious. Take for example this ad, which features a flying pantyhose package that acts like a magical VPL eraser, gently touching women’s bums to remove unsightly lines. And then the kicker: “Why spoil the view? Wear Underalls, pantyhose and panties all in one!” (I wonder if they throw in the Monistat for free? ‘Cause you’re probably gonna need it.)
I guess I never realized the VPL was such a major late-’70s/early-’80s cultural phenomenon. I mean, I knew it from Annie Hall:
ROB: Oh, no, no, that’s bullshit, Max. He goes with that girl over there.
Rob nods his head toward a tall woman dressed all in white conversing with a group of people close-by.
ROB: The one with the V.P.L.
ROB: Visible panty line. Max, she is gorgeous.
According to the all-knowing Wikipedia (yes, there’s an entry for “panty line”), Annie Hall popularized it, but David Halberstam first used the phrase in his 1967 novel about the Vietnam War, One Very Hot Day:
They all wore white dresses, that was the prescribed legal uniform, but they wore hem so short and tight, that was almost obscene. (So tight that the panty lines could always be seen, and the helicopter pilots, who were insane for miliary abbreviations, had invented the phrase VPL, for Visible Panty Line).”
Some dudes’ VPL-love notwithstanding, I can understand the popularity of Underalls, seeing as how the thong had yet to become an acceptable undergarment choice for non-strippers. And I’m guessing the decline of the Underalls had something to do with its unpleasant yeasty side effects, but also with the increasing popularity of the thong. In fact, fear of the VPL was cited by Abercrombie and Fitch as a reason they created the kiddie thong:
n 2002, Abercrombie & Fitch launched its infamous kiddie thong collection, arguing that girls as young as 10 “are style-conscious and want underwear that doesn’t produce a Visible Panty Line.”
Who knew that all this time Underalls were the answer? Ok, one more ad, for those of you who (like me) cannot get enough of vintage VPL action:
Don’t look now… they appear to be making a comeback.
Thanks to Jess for the link — I’m gonna send you a pair of these things when they hit the market, and you can test them out for me.