One of the problems with writing in print is that you can’t simply delete your mistakes, or go around collecting every copy of a magazine, newspaper, zine, whatever, writing EDITOR’S NOTE: SORRY!!!!!! on your bad content. Kind of like a bad tattoo, bad copy in print lives f o r e v e r (or until the new issue hits the stands and we move last month’s cover to the coffee table, where it will be used as a cheap, glossy coaster).
Such is the lesson the folks at O, The Oprah Magazine are learning, after sharing some bad advice that women should wear crop tops “if (and only if!) you have a flat stomach.”
It didn’t take long for the internet to (rightfully) revolt. According to Buzzfeed, writer Tamar Anitai brought the ill-advised caption from the archaic ruins of print to the web two days ago in an Instagram post. Fashion blogger (and self-proclaimed crop top advocate) Sarah Conley was tagged in the post, and wrote a response on her blog, Style It.
“One of the greatest things to happen to my wardrobe has been the rise in popularity of crop tops,” Conley wrote. “For a lot of women they actually help us to create shape and a defined waist.”
A lot of people agree with Conley. In what’s become a torrential backlash against O Mag’s serious flub, women have taken to Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, you name it, posting pictures of themselves in crop tops with the hashtag #rockthecrop to prove that no, you don’t need a flat stomach to wear this particular clothing item.
This trend combines several of my favorite things: rightful anger, crop top advocacy, and ENDLESS mirror selfies. The point of all this is to prove that anyone can wear a crop top, and look damn good doing so. You don’t need to look like a walking skateboard, turned upright (this is how I picture a “flat” stomach), to show 1 to 6 inches of skin. Do you have a torso? Is there a stomach between your chest and your hips? Do you wear shirts, sometimes? Cool! You qualify as a person who can wear a crop top!
While crop tops are not a new clothing item, they’re definitely having a Moment as of late. Teens, for instance, love them. Sometimes cats wear them. I consider myself to be a recent convert to the powers of a good crop top. As someone who is *clears throat* “well-endowed” (a disgusting term for having larger breasts), I turn to crop tops when I want to show a little skin without looking pornographic. That little sliver of skin, peeking out between the bottom hem of my shirt and the top of my high rise jeans/skirt/short/whatever, makes me feel powerful in a way that no other clothing item can.
Like all religious conversions, I had an evangelist. A friend, noted crop top advocate Sarah-Grace Sweeney, introduced me to the crop top during a hot summer in Austin. “I think my crop top journey began with the popularity of the high waisted shorts, skirts, jeans, etc., and as a part of the quest to wear as few clothes as possible in Texas,” she told me via G-chat.
When you live somewhere with two months of 100-degree days, wearing as little clothing as possible is an art form. A good solution? A shirt that, technically, yes, is a shirt—but leaves some room for an occasional belly breeze. Like an overgrown teen, and with Sarah-Grace’s guidance, I bought my first crop from American Apparel.
I really can’t describe how I felt the first night I gathered the courage to bare a bit of my stomach in public. I thought I would be VERY AWARE of the amount of skin I was showing—in an area that’s usually very much covered—but what I found instead was that I felt oddly empowered. Where some women gain confidence from a pair of killer shoes, ass-embracing jeans, lumberjack-esque flannels, cozy old T-shirts—what have you—I found my womanhood in a tiny piece of stretchy black fabric that covered just enough of my pale, not necessarily flat, torso.
Whether or not the crop top is your feminist raison d’étre, I’m a definite advocate and evangelist for these half shirts as the unofficial uniform of the feminist kill-joy army. The only rule of the crop top club is that you wear your tops proudly, with the confidence that you look good as hell in whatever way you choose to bare your belly-sliver. Have a flat stomach? Great! Have a round stomach, a cylindrical stomach, an octagonal stomach (I digress…)? Still great! We’re an equal-opportunity group. Even boys can wear them (they’re called “shimmels,” apparently).
I haven't even addressed the clothing item’s accessibility. For casual afternoons, lounging around the apartment, go for a cheeky top that says “I have literally so much chill,” like this one. For business casual dress codes, perhaps opt for a collared crop. In the mood to bewitch some crop top haters? Yup! Gotcha (mostly) covered! So many crop tops, so many variables, but one thing remains constant: That little piece of tummy is out, and hey, have we mentioned you look great?!?
"Maybe crop tops are like the pants of the `20s and `30s," Sarah-Grace hypothesized, "we are scandalizing people all over the place for wearing them, but hopefully someday they will be totally common place!" AMEN.
So, sorry, O Magazine, it seems you might’ve misplaced your crop top hymnals. Please locate them, turn to page 420, and join us in our triumphant chorus of praise. Can you wear a crop top? Yes! If (and only if!) you swear to feel incredible doing so.
Hannah Smothers is a reporter for Fusion's Sex & Life section, a Texpat, and a former homecoming princess.