Belly Up: A Love Letter to Crop Tops

If someone had told my 13-year-old self that one day, she’d pose in crop tops for pictures to be published in the newspaper, she probably would have grown nauseous from the anxiety of it all. Belly tops were all the rage back then. Britney, Christina and Destiny’s Child rocked them on every red carpet. It was a look that I fell in love with. Inside my bedroom, locked safely away from judging eyes, I would tie up my shirts, paint on some dark lipstick and dance my ass off to “Wannabe” and “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” I felt fierce as hell stomping around my small bedroom, belly out and lips curled into a snarl. Until someone opened the door. Then all my armour seemed to fall away, exposing my deepest insecurities and shame about my body.

My belly was the thing I hated most throughout my teens. It was a fixation at times. I’d dare to put on a crop top in front of family or neighbours, until someone looked at me a little too long or whispered something that probably had nothing to do with me. I’d run into my room and change immediately, or wrap my arms around my waist to hide my stomach. I envied my friends’ flat tummies, adorned with belly rings and later, Playboy Bunny tattoos. That will never be me, I told myself. Which is partly true: I never got my belly button pierced and I’m tattoo-free. But damn, 27-year-old me can rock the hell out of a crop top.

When I reached my 20s, I had made feminist friends who encouraged me to be bold. I took classes in women and the media, gender equality and sociology. I wrote about going braless and profiled champion boxers. I became co-editor of McClung’s, a student-run feminist magazine at Ryerson. A tiny revolution started inside of me.

Me with my co-editor, Laura, at a Peaches concert in 2007.

Me with my co-editor, Laura, at a Peaches concert in 2007.

Around the time that I launched this blog last year, I discovered a whole world of body-positive babes who embrace and flaunt their shapes. Every time I meet one of these women, through social media, at events or parties, I can feel my self-esteem rising like mercury on a thermometer; slow but steady. This revolution that we’re taking part in right now, the idea that every body is a beautiful body, has given me more strength that I realized I was even capable of possessing.

A few weeks ago, The Kit published a story I wrote about wearing the latest crop top trend. I was delighted to be able to put my plus-size spin on it and to make body positivity part of the theme. I felt like a babe when I posed for those pictures.

My new favourite outfit. Top, rebdolls.com. Skirt, joefresh.com.

My new favourite outfit. Top, rebdolls.com. Skirt, joefresh.com.

 

Since I was assigned the story, I’ve bought seven crop tops. They’re hanging in my closet next to shape-hugging skirts, skinny jeans, fitted blazers and other things I used to think I wasn’t allowed to wear. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time with a copy of that magazine to hand to 13-year-old Lora. Just a quick hug and a “here, love, read this,” and I’d be on my way, back to May 2015: The Summer of Crop Tops.

WAY BACK PLAY BACK TIME!

Author: Lora Grady

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1 Comment

  1. You totally rocked that striped crop top! I used to think I couldn’t wear tank tops or anything sleeveless. How ridiculous is that? I’m 43 years old and I just bought my first tank top last month.

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