The politics of crop tops

The eldest has requested a crop top. This is hardly surprising since she is centimetres shy of my height, her size 9 adult thongs barely fit and I just bought her size 8 adult shorts that are only slightly too big.

You could safely say she’s on the Amazonian spectrum and puberty can’t be far off.

So, what do I do?

She’s still only 10, but swears all her friends already have them. Can this be true? Why do all her friends have them? It must be a fashion statement, because I don’t see anything even vaguely resembling boobs sprouting on their chests.

I’m not particularly opposed to them, I’m pretty crop-top neutral, but everywhere I turn they’ve being decried as the main roadblock to world peace, the work of the devil and the leading culprit in the sexualisation of our poor, misguided youth, second only to cut-off shorts.

Are they really?

According to “Young girls are turning themselves into sexualised ‘mini-adults’ by wearing bras, nail polish and lipstick are requiring psychological help in increasing numbers.”

Well, there’s cheery news. And here I was thinking it was a fun bonding experience when the kids and I paint our toenails together.

In a discussion thread on Essential Baby, one tetchy mum wrote: “What age crop tops for little girls? Are there no singlets where you’re from?”

A mums’ Facebook group recently included the pic below with the caption: “My friend went shopping for her 6 year old little girl and was disappointed with Target. She said “Thanks Target for sexualising my 6 yr old.” Thought I’d share.”


Some of the comments that followed included: “Clothing that seems designed only to cover the ‘private’ parts of a woman’s body and not much more, have always had a sexual nature to them, in my mind – so they’re inappropriate for kids.”

And: “Target is revolting, they had a faux leather mini skirt for ages 5-12 and I was so angry I wrote on their page well done for hiring pedophiles for designs and needless to say they removed the comment.”

And:  “Refuse my girl to wear prostitute clothing…”

And: “It’s a disgrace no wonder there are so many creeps about look what’s on offer to buy. What ever happened to the lovely sundresses, knicker bockers and jumpsuits, I know I’m out dated but I loved those clothes.”

Knickerbockers! I love her!

Back to what the kids have to say … The moment her 8-year-old sister heard the eldest utter the word “crop-top” she wanted one too. She also insisted all her friends have them. Do they really? Surely not …

Again, I’m pretty neutral on the subject but, on a purely practical note: why wear more layers of clothing when you don’t need to? Seems a bit bat shite crazy to me, since I’ve yet to form an opinion on the sexualisation thing.

Although, let me think out loud for a second … They don’t SEEM very sexy. But am I missing something?

Please explain the crop-top fury to me so I can decide whether to buy the eldest one myself or suggest quietly in her ear that she ask Nonna for one while she’s there during the school holidays …

Oooh, heavens, where DID that terrible thing come from? I can’t BELIEVE Nonna bought it for you … Oh well … I suppose you can keep it … 

Song of the day: Cyndi Lauper “Girls just wanna have fun”





14 thoughts on “The politics of crop tops

  1. Hi Alana,

    My eldest is also ten. She already has boobs growing and her grandmother DID buy her some crop tops without me knowing. Bless her!

    The problem is my daughter doesn’t want to wear the crop tops (even though they make far more sense than singlets in our sub tropical climate). Poor thing. I think she’s embarrassed because the crop tops are only one step away from a real bra and she doesn’t want to go THERE yet because she knows it’s just around the corner…

    At their age all I wanted was to fit in with my friends. Fitting in means feeling secure. So if your girl wants one because all her friends wear them, is it really such a bad thing?

    I can see where the crop top protesters are coming from though. WHY are these bra-like garments made in sizes for little girls who are barely out of their toddler years?

    As for our girls’ age group…It’s a grey area. Lots of them ARE getting boobs but aren’t ready to be fitted with a bra. They need something! And their boobless friends? Well, maybe it’s not so bad for them to want one too.


    A mother who is replying to a blog post when she should be getting ready for work and is now running late.

  2. I went through the same stage with my eldest. She’s a tad older but she’s tiny for her age and no where near puberty at all. “But allllll the kids have them at school…except me!!!” She constantly whinged. Which unfortunately seemed to be true. I was very much against them also, but found (what I felt was) middle ground by buying a more sports looking one. No adjustable straps, plain white, kind of like a half singlet but not puckered in the centre like a fake/mini bra. This has seemed to satisfy her and she hasn’t asked again about them. It’s very hard, some mums I know seem to think they need to train their kids to get used to bras justifying buying the mini version. I just think that like the rest of the “joys” that are accompanied with puberty, i’m really doing her a favour making her wait till she really needs one…

  3. I am not yet at the stage of a “crop top” conversation and certainly not looking forward to it as my daughter is one of those absolutely, old fashioned tomboys! I don’t call her that – not into labels – but everyone else does. As a confirmed feminist, I just love her the way she is and will not ever force her to conform. I can agree with the mums shopping at Target or anywhere else for that matter. My daughter refuses to wear “short shorts” but there is nothing else for girls out there which is incredibly disappointing. We end up spending our time in the boys department which doesn’t really work now that she is getting hips and a bit of shape – they don’t quite fit. Hats off to the cool chick in Ozmosis who straight away took her to the boys board shorts when we explained that we needed some non-pink, non-girly bathers. But what is that all about? Why are the girls clothes so very ‘adult’ and so prissy? Would love to have the expertise to create a clothing brand for girls who like to climb trees, ride bikes, surf waves, get dirty. Rant over – sorry – touchy subject for me. *sigh*

    • My eldest is a tomboy too. It’s incredibly hard to find clothes for her. Fortunately she’s almost adult-sized, which will solve all our problems – just got her khaki cargo shorts from Kmart womenswear that she loves, wore them tonight with a black Doctor Who t-shirt!

  4. What, Roz? You mean clothes for real girls? Desparately needed. But which chain would stock them? They’re too interested in churning out mini Kardashians.

  5. As to crop tops, when I was 10 that meant a garment that looked like a cropped singlet. It certainly didn’t look anything like a bra. Alana, you have to decide how to play this. But suggestions (could I ever keep my mouth shut? No): are you comfortable with your daughter’s choice regarding croptops? Does she wear bikinis (and if so, what’s the difference between the two)? If you make too big an issue about this it will become a major thing and will be a point of rebellion in a couple of years. Some of the stuff on sale for little girls is definitely dodgy, but others are just guilty by association. You start banning this because of it MIGHT be sexualisation, she’ll gravitate to that, definitely is. It’s a minefield. And if she wants stuff you really don’t want her to have, talk to her about the difference between style and trend, and the value of NOT being a clone.

    • Megan, if you saw her tonight you’d have been proud – she’s not a fashion junkie, very individual. She looked like she should have been slouching around Newtown with her uni friends! But obviously feeling self-conscious.

  6. With my 11yo, there was def a trend for the 9-10 yo with crop tops, I avoided/refused to be swayed by this info. But when she did start becoming self-conscious of her changing shape (which is very subtle), we went to very sensible Best & Less and found white singlets with inbuilt crop top area to where under her uniform. She also requested less figure hugging school shirts, which seemed reasonable. PS: I do remember being horrified when her 4yo friends used to where bra like crop tops.

  7. I have 3 boys…so I’ll never have this problem. I don’t think crop tops are the work of the’s just fashion. But it bought me back to the summer of 1980…9 years old and all I ever wanted was a black string bikini like Charlie Angel’s wore and boots to my knees. My mother always said “no little girls can wear black” and only “dancers” wear boots to their knees. Everyone had brown boots to their knees in 1980 except me. I’m still a bit cross about it.

    • I was very excited by my Charlie’s Angels flick hairdo as a kid … loooooooved Charlie’s Angels. Also loved my knee-high white patent leather boots with red velvet hot pants. Wow, that makes me sound quite groovy …

  8. Having just seen about 2000 teenage girls aged 13 to 16, some obviously quite well endowed, exiting a concert wearing bralets, crop tops and short shorts, leaving nothing to the imagination and basically all trying to strut and pose whilst the boys had long shorts on, I think its sad that the only message teen girls are getting is that they have to look hot. Obviously a 10 year old is not thinking that way, but its not long to go.

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