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Why thongs are wrong


Stitched Up

Benjamen Judd looks at how clothes can make or break the modern day man.

View more entries from Stitched Up

Not what I want to look at while eating my meal, thanks.

Not what I want to look at while eating my meal, thanks. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Spring is upon us, and the time fast approaching to bust out your warm weather wardrobe. Ahead of that liberating moment, there is a disturbing matter I'd like you to give some thought to.

At the risk of being labelled un-Australian, I hate thongs. Or flip-flops. Or jandals, if you're from New Zealand. No matter what you call them, they're an example of something utterly horrible that has taken over society to the detriment of its health. Like the Kardashians, twerking and reality television.

As I was preparing to write this, a friend actually felt the need to intervene: “Are you sure you want to do this? I mean, these are kind of cultural icons for Australia.”

Yeah … well, I checked the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and they're not listed. Phar Lap, koalas, Akubra hats and even Vegemite are all considered national icons. But not thongs. In fact, the only thongs in that whole scenario were the ones on my friend's feet. Which he had worn to a restaurant.

And that right there, I think, is my primary gripe with these flimsy, flaccid and fetid bits of rubber.

OK, I admit that there are worse things eating at our society than eating out in thongs. Like the Kardashians, twerking and reality television. And that there may be certain scenarios where thongs are not only acceptable, but rather convenient. Such as the beach, at the pool or in the showers at the gym.

But somewhere along the way we have become brainwashed into believing that these barely-there toe-revealing bits of toot are perfectly acceptable footwear for most, if not all our daily activities. Even those activities where they're clearly not.

It's no longer completely unexpected to turn up to a bar and see a group of people at a table all impeccably dressed; and then you look down and there you have it – cracked heels, black toenails and a pair of feet that look like they were the stunt doubles for something out of Middle Earth out for all to see. Some things can't be unseen, and no one needs to see the lack of regard you pay to the upkeep of your feet.

Aside from the aesthetic issue, there are also the health ones that should be considered. Thongs offer next to no support for your foot. You'd actually be better off walking barefoot. In a report from Auburn University in the US, it was found that people who wear thongs shorten their strides, causing their heels to hit the ground with less vertical force. This throws off the natural gait of your body, leading to issues in your ankles, knees, hips and even your back later down the track.

And the next time you're slipping on your favourite pair of worn-down feet-breathers, consider this – another study back in 2009 found that one pair of thongs was home to more than 18,000 kinds of bacteria, including staphylococcus and even various forms of faeces. And we wonder why our feet stink …

I'm not expecting anyone to go out and squeeze their piggies into the latest pair of ostrich skin loafers just to get the milk. And I'm prepared to cop a lot of flak for daring to attack something so central to our national identity and way of life, possibly even more so than the notions of equality for all and a public holiday for a horse race.

All I'm saying is this – is it too much to ask that we agree that there are certain situations where thongs don't have a place? Like any situation that involves food, for example.

What do you think – are thongs acceptable footwear for all situations?


  • So true. Thongs and jeans look wrong anyway but I'm always astounded at the number of blokes who like to carry this look off during the colder months. Get some proper shoes losers!

    Date and time
    August 30, 2013, 12:50PM
    • So true. We've all beeen tempted by the sheer ease of whacking on thongs rather than shows and socks, but it's one step too LAZY that's become way too acceptable

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 1:58PM
    • I totally agree with health concerns when it comes to injury. But sanitation? Unless you're eating with your feet there shouldn't be a problem. As for looks, stop being so vein and concerned with how other people look. Does it really affect you?

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 2:21PM
    • Thongs are only appropriate for:

      1) using showers in campsites or public baths
      2) children going to swimming classes.

      Any adult who thinks thongs are suitable wear outside of these arenas is living a vulgar life indeed.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 3:00PM
    • Man are you uptight so worried about what someone else might think about what you are wearing. Horses for courses ......thongs rock relax take a deep breath actually no one is looking at you anyway ha

      Big Artie
      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 3:41PM
    • There's probably 18000 types of bacteria anywhere and everywhere. Our bodies are home to a myriad, naturally and most often beneficially. I'd hazard a guess that the confines of shoes would be worse, or at least harbor a more likely to smell bacteria simply because the skin isn't open to the atmosphere like it is meant to be and the low oxygen, hot and humid environment of shoes being great for putrescent bactieria.

      On the fashion front, who cares. Someone caring about that is more like a Kardashian than a non caring thong wearer. Kardashians and those that like them just follow a fashion of a different sort, equally as vacuous.

      For the record I don't wear them a lot, it's either bare foot or volleys mostly, but they're very handy when you just want to pop on some footwear to go into, say, a shop that doesn't allow bare foot and you're not going somewhere or doing something where it's more practical to wear shoes. But if you find them practical go for it, and if you judge people based on it then you seriously need to get some perspective.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 4:18PM
    • I too hate the damn things in general but especially when worn in restaurants, airport lounges and on planes. Then to add insult to injury the wearers will inevitably play with their toes, nails, heels, etc and go on to use the restaurant, lounge and plane facilities. Yuck!

      I am an Aussie living in Singapore where flip flops are even more widely worn than in Oz and while I don't particularly want to see other peoples bare tootsies I must say that you don't get the grungy feet here.

      In fact the quality of the local foot is way superior to that in OZ and the vast majority off flip flop wearers (local and expat) have perfectly clean feet with the ladies being outstanding with beautifully manicured and painted toe nails.

      But still......around the house, at the beach please!

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 4:20PM
    • Not bursting your bubble, Big A, but I'm not uptight (I do waaaay too much yoga for that !!).

      I do, however, like to aspire to a higher, more sophisticated way of life.

      Sadly, this country seems to always aim for the lowest common denominator, and thongs are emblematic of that ideal.....throw in binge drinking, appalling road manners, and a national obsession with sport (above arts, innovation, etc) and you get my drift......

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 4:24PM
    • To me, this shows just how shallow, vacuous and vain our society has become. I would rather judge a person on their character, values and attitudes towards others than by what they wear on their feet. Seriously, you all need to get a life and stop being so judgemental about trivial things. No wonder this country is going downhill so rapidly.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 6:00PM
    • Maybe not the choice for certain occasions and certainly tough going in winter but they're the world's most popular footwear and it's not just because of price. Tried shoes and socks in the tropics lately? I'm staggered so many people care what others think.

      Date and time
      August 30, 2013, 6:10PM

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