Slang City Mail

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August 16, 2007

Slang of the Week: VPL (noun)
visible panty line

Rob was planning to propose, but when he saw Marian’s VPL and realized she wasn’t perfect, he went home and watched a movie instead.

Celebrity quote:
“First, look out for the ugly cousin of VPL. VFL is the visible line of fat that oozes out above the waistline of your control pants, creating an unsightly set of love handles.”
Ursula Hirschkorn in the UK Daily Mail

Bill Clinton was once asked on MTV if he wore boxers or briefs.  If his wife Hillary stays in the 2008 presidential race for long enough, perhaps she’ll be asked a similar question: whether she prefers briefs, bikinis, boy shorts, thongs or “shapewear,” as girdles and such are now euphemistically called.
Hirschkorn’s article is not about the horrors of having your underwear show through your clothes (VPL); it's about the renewed popularity of shapewear and the unfortunate effect that squeezing one part of you body into a small space can have on the other parts, namely “VFL.” This term seems to be of her own invention; I didn’t find it elsewhere. The more common name for an unattractive midsection fat roll is muffin top, though that is the result of too tight low-rise jeans instead of a too tight girdle. While she uses the expression love handles, those are not necessarily caused by fat overflowing the confines of spandex. 

Since muffin top, VPL and whale tail are fairly recent words, you might think that our ancestors didn’t have to deal with such undergarment problems in the olden days, when women were well covered up.

You’d be wrong. On the Victoria and Albert Museum website, author Gwen Raverat writes about her experience of corsets in the late 1800s: “And in spite of whalebone, they were apt to bulge below the waist in front; for, poor dears, they were but human after all, and they had to expand somewhere.”

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s pick: The Lover’s Tongue by Mark Morton. This adults-only book traces the history of sexy words.