Open Letter to Crop Tops

Dear Places That Sell/Make Crop Tops,

When you’re my age, you can be an “early bloomer” or a “late bloomer”. I guess the middle stage is purgatory? (Also, why do we need flowery terms to identify or cute-ify puberty? It’s so annoying.). For me, my body started changing in 6th grade. For a while, I didn’t really pay attention to how I looked, because I didn’t care. Also, I didn’t realize the changes were happening until adults started pointing it out to me. And so, in 6th grade, only two years ago, I had a new girl body.  I had curves. Major. Everywhere. And I was fine with it; after all, I have been around my Mom—exclusively and she’s got curves—my whole life.

All this change meant a bunch of things, but two in particular. One, I’d need new tops. And two, my mom didn’t have to choose my wardrobe anymore. A win-win on both fronts. So I got a bunch of things, tops that were appropriate and fitting for my body, things I chose myself. I also saw a trend among girls my age: crop tops. Which, if you did not know, are available to young girls to wear at your local trending teenage-land store (American Apparel, Brandy Melville, etc.). And remember, 11- and 12- and 13-year-old girl bodies may develop in one area but not stretch in another; our torsos are shorter than an adult-sized person.

But, I was young and excited to select my new outfits. Independence! Autonomy! My Mom-Letting-Me-Use-Her-Credit-Card! I went to Brandy Melville and ordered a skirt and 2 crop tops. So cute! When I received the order in the mail, I was eager to try them on. I couldn’t wait to post an #ootd on Instagram. However, when I tried the clothing on, I was not so happy anymore. And I didn’t even need my Mom to tell me what was wrong with the outfits.

I didn’t look like me. I looked like I tried to fit into a shirt made for someone half my age, because it covered half my “area.” I looked like I would look like if I wore one of those inappropriate-for-my-age Halloween costumes that I hate so much.

I learned, obviously, that those crop tops are not made for me or my body. It bothered me also, that the crop tops are so short, which means they’re not covering much. That may work for an adult, but for someone my age? Hmmm. The reality is, girls my age wear them – these crop tops that are ONE size fits ALL. Let me repeat: One Size Fits All. What are manufacturers/designers thinking? “Ah, yes. Only teen girls who are super skinny and not curvy or anything will buy my clothes!” One Size Fits All doesn’t work for the ALL of us. Can you imagine the difference between girls who are A cups and girls who are DD cups? Well I can, and I can tell you, ONE size does not fit ALL.

And it got me thinking: instead of being angry about tops that are literally about looking sexy, what about suggesting an alternative, one where the tops are comfortable and loose, instead of form-fitting and worse, ill-fitting?

Here’s an idea (because there are people who want to wear crop tops): how about making crop tops in a variety of sizes.? Because a girl with an A cup has different dimensions to her body than a girl with a C or a DD cup. And don’t get all judgmental and tell me we shouldn’t wear them; that’s not going to work for us. We’re teenagers; if a fashion item is trending, teenaged girls want to wear it. Remember what you were like when you were a teenager? Remember also, the insecurities that came along with the changes in your body, and trying to fit in and also, trying to be fashionable? That hasn’t changed. But what has changed is that we young people can voice our opinions and make our suggestions directly to brands we are addicted to. And what I’m suggesting is simple: make room for the rest of us and our bodies. Because we want to wear what you’re selling. And we want to wear what looks good on us. And those two things can work really well together when you’re designing for All Sizes. Crop tops are cool, sure. But the one size fits all deal? That’s gotta go.


Ruby Karp: 13 and not One Size Fits All.