Camel No, FUSION

A new season begins, and already we have been graced with a brand new product that can be used to hide inconvenient parts of the female anatomy. It’s not a female Dickie for hiding cleavage nor is it a twist on the infamous waist trainer. No, this week we welcome panties that are specially designed to hide the most serious of all womanly concerns: camel toe.

Aptly named Camel No, these underwear have a special crotch panel that’s meant to keep those pesky labia under (literal) wraps, in even the tightest of pants. Think Spanx but strictly for your vag. According to what founder Maggie Han told Mashable, the special panel is made from actual medical-grade silicone. You know, because this is a serious problem that requires serious materials.

Han’s invention joins the niche but increasingly mainstream market of products that promise to safeguard your vagina beneath layers of reinforced fabric. It seems she created Camel No because Han, as a regular, working gal, wants to help other vagina-conscious ladies who experience the daily frustration of trying to pick an outfit that doesn’t enhance the appearance of her lady bits.

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Han, who said she stands at 5’11”, worries about walking into conference rooms, as her vagina—and subsequent camel toe—comes in at eye-level. She also recalled moments in her own life when the cameltoe of other women was so distracting that she literally lost the ability to hear. "I didn't hear what she said, I was staring at her camel toe in these beautiful white capris,” Han said to Mashable, on seeing her godmother give a speech.

As someone with a vagina of her own, who prefers to wear high-waisted jeans and shorts (known camel-toe perpetrators), I should be the target audience for Han’s $30 silicone-padded panties. Camel No dangles the notion of empowerment before its potential customers, promising women that they can walk confidently into any room knowing all signs that they have a vagina are completely hidden. I’m all for female empowerment, but I don’t get why I have to pass myself off as an IRL Ken doll in order to feel it.

Camel No, and other camel toe-hiding products, operate on the very old idea that the best way to feel like a truly sufficient woman is to rid yourself of all female-specific distractors. It's the same logic tampon companies use when they advertise products so discrete, the woman in the next stall won't even know you're menstruating. It's also the same logic that plays into really sexist dress code policies, which tell young women they should cover up to avoid the dangerous male gaze.

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It's everyday sexism at work, getting in your pants, telling you to hide the reality of your anatomy if you want to be taken seriously.

I work in a pretty casual office. I wear high-waisted jeans to work quite often. My body isn't especially prone to camel toe (I'm short and short-waisted), but I also don't know that I'd notice if my pants were sliding up my vagina unless it was really uncomfortable.

I also don't necessarily care if the very faint outline of my anatomy can be made out through the fabric of my pants. There is a vagina buried under there! And as my personal taste in underwear designates, there are some days when you can tell that I am, in fact, a vagina-toting human female.

This isn't to say some women won't buy panties that boast ultimate vaginal control. Everyone has their own little insecurities and accompanying rituals for dealing with them. Dealing with the stuff that makes us feel weird is part of growing up (I think). But to promise a feeling of empowerment as a byproduct of tucking your labia away beneath medical-grade supplies is shame-y, rude, and sexist.

If camel toe woes are your personal lot in life, Camel No might be a great solution for you. But don't buy into the concept that you need to go out of your way to hide your femininity if you want to be taken seriously as an adult woman. Wear thin underwear, hike your jeans up, embrace the camel toe. And if you're feeling especially welcoming, take a note from Khloe Kardashian and give it a name. Go ahead, get attached.

Related: Fusion’s Alicia Menendez questions why can’t we all just admire each others’ junk.

Hannah Smothers is a reporter for Fusion's Sex & Life section, a Texpat, and a former homecoming princess.