I’ve been making progress dealing with my body dysmorphia and building a good relationship with food the past year, but I’ve taken a few steps back recently and I’m pinning the blame on dance TikToks. To be more specific, it’s not the dancing (although looking uncool when I do TikTok dances are blows of their own) but TikTok fashion that pulled my body insecurities to the surface again. I love crop tops and it annoys me when I find myself hesitating to wear one because I’ve been conditioned to.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has seen more women and men of different sizes and shapes rocking a variety of clothes despite the continuing clamor for size-inclusivity to become the norm in the fashion industry. We’re seeing more “plus-size” (some find the term isolating and want the label gone while others believe that it’s the stigma against the term that needs to be removed) models such as Rona Samson-Tai and Teena Arches in fashion spreads. Yes, there’s been progress in trying to get rid of the culture of weight-shaming. But some days, I feel like the conversation has been diluted into a fashion-that-flatters matter.
I don’t consider myself thicc or fat and I don’t wish to speak for or over people who are. What I am is 4’11 short with a bad posture and a bulging stomach. If I look like Winnie the Pooh in a crop top and a bottom that isn’t high-waisted, that’s nobody’s business but mine. If I want to unearth the skin-tight top in my closet, why should I be concerned with whether or not it hugs my body in “all the right places”? If I don’t have a flat and toned midriff, why do I have to try to hide it?
There’s a HuffPost article titled “Only Kerry Washington Can Wear A Crop Top While Pregnant And Look This Classy” and as much as I love Washington, that headline makes me nauseous. What it tells me is that only certain bodies can pull off the classy crop top look. Unconsciously or not, this mindset instills limits on people based on how we look.
One article that I think got it right is Refinery29’s “How To Wear EVERY Type Of Crop Top This Summer” where stylist Jenny Tate said, “The trick is to NEVER show more than a two-finger gap from your waistband to the base of your crop top. Remember: Less is more. Belly buttons are cute, but save it for the beach.” Although it still puts a premium on what’s flattering or not, the tips have a universality to them that is still missing in a lot of style conversations.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t want to look good. I’m human and it’s natural to seek approval and positive attention. Perhaps we could chalk up some aspects of body standards to the science of beauty and attraction, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to interrogate our notions of an “ideal” and pull it apart.
I’m sick of wanting to crop a photo when I see something “unflattering.” I’m sick of not being able to wear what I want and wishing I owned Spanx or a gazillion high-waisted bottoms. I’m sick of the word stylish having anything to do with size. Spare me the slimming tips and just let me wear my crop tops in peace.