“Mom, am off with Angie to the school match,”
“What’s that you’re wearing ?”
“A new top I got at the mall, everyone is wearing,”
“And that’s reason enough for you to do so as well? You’re telling me I have raised a sheep then?”
“Mom please don’t be like that,”
“Like what? Go to your room right this moment and put on some decent clothing. No daughter of mine would be seen roaming the street with … what are they any-ways?”
“They are crop-tops mum and I am going to die of embarrassment ‘cos I’ll be the only one amongst my friends not wearing one,” she cried in a whining voice.
“Well better to die of embarrassment than a dreadful cold. Trust me you’ll thank me for it in the future.”
“That’s what you always say and it hasn’t happened yet.”
According to Cambridge dictionary a crop top is a piece of clothing for a woman’s top half that does not cover her stomach. I searched everywhere for a detailed history of when the crop came into existence and I consistently came back to the same answers. The crop top was formally introduced into fashion mainstream by these events:
- The movie Flashdance in 1983 in which the character Alexandra Owens played by Jennifer Beals donned the outfit.
- Madonna, who also in 1983 wore a mesh crop top for her video Lucky star.
- The trend was taken up a notch in the 90’s by Britney Spears. The release of her hit music video ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’made the look more appealing.
However, I belief the crop top in varying formats has existed in Africa and the middle-east decades before these times. Traditionally worn by dancers and on special occasions: they wear designed to showcase the beautiful ornaments and body arts which women adorned on such occasions. Said ornaments were also sometimes jingled in rhythm with the tune to which the dancer performed. The crop top worn by Fulani women is probably the most similar in style to the present day crop top. The crop top is worn by Fulani women as an everyday outfit especially in rural areas, however on special occasions more ornaments and body arts are added.
Variants of the crop top can also be found amongst other Nigerian tribes as seen below. However, they seem more like boob tubes, boob crop tops and less like the designated crop tops.
Essential, the Nigerian crop top was designed to aid easy movement by the wearer: it was less about toned bodies and fitness, though this still came into play. As a teenager I rarely came across the regular crop top, however the Britney Spears format of tying your school shirt into a crop top was very common during school sports and those wearing it stayed clear of the school authorities. University students especially those who lived far away from home often were the ones to wear them with pride. I think this can be attributed to the fact that such an obvious display of skin was considered somewhat irresponsible. The story however is different these days, the crop top is seen as sexy and appealing by the youths, but am not sure it will ever be accepted by the society at large.
Do you have any thoughts on the crop top? Are there any other cultures with crop tops in their history?