Is There More to #CropTopTuesday than Teen Angst?

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - 300 Block of 10 Street NW

Last Tuesday students around the globe bore their bellies in solidarity. What started as a dress code debate in an arts high school in the Toronto area fuelled a small, yet compelling, revolt worldwide. The same source reports that Halket, the founder and loudest voice, went to her social media channels to encourage supporters to wear a crop top on Tuesday, May 26 to show their distaste for the perceived discrimination. The article states the movement dubbed #CropTopTuesday on social networks and school campuses was born. We now know that male and female students alike sported the midriff baring bandwagon.

I can understand the frustration of a student when forced home to change because what you wore to school was deemed inappropriate and out of line as per dress codes. My day’s fight was the spaghetti strap tank top. Today’s fight is the crop top. Regardless of the garment, it’s about what the garment represents.

I can also understand the angst of supposed dampening of self-expression when you don’t get to wear what you want. The frustration that results from feeling put down when you feel you look good.

I also get behind the argument that what you wear should be appropriate for where you’re going. A board meeting at a conservative office is usually not the place for a crop top, for instance. But there are plenty of companies where crop tops are fine in the workplace. Working in retail, artists, dancers and fashion models to name a few off the top of my head.

Where the educational administration argument breaks down for me is the word appropriate. I don’t get it. Why is it that young people in school, a progressive arts school in Halket’s case, deem crop tops inappropriate? When you look into it further, the rules in practice for what is seen as appropriate vs. not inappropriate seem gender based. Uh oh. See the following excerpt out of a Toronto Star article

In contrast, they said, boys are allowed to run around the gym and school yards shirtless, seemingly skirting dress codes aimed at desexualizing institutions.

“We are just trying to love our bodies and appreciate them for what they are, even with a dress code,” Halket told the Star, noting she had never been dinged for an outfit infraction before. “Why would you send a female home because guys can’t control themselves when they see a girl’s outfit?”

This brings up another layer of confusion for me. Why does there appear to be rules in place to keep boy and girls “under control?” Could we not teach young persons the tools to process intrigue, attraction and pumping hormones in a non-animalistic manner? Is it finally time to teach young people how to be positive about these changes rather than avoidance tactics and pretending they don’t exist? I’d say yes, yes it is time. Perhaps we could institute curriculum that fosters a more open mind about sexual education and responsibility for ones thoughts and actions.

WARNING! I’M ABOUT TO GO OFF… Or, full judgment coming out, why are we placing this responsibility on the public education system (I’m not touching the private system)? Why can’t we ask parents to parent? I know that what one wears out the home’s front door and what one shows up at school may be very different, but let’s open a dialogue for parents to actually parent. Teachers and school administrators can’t and shouldn’t do it all. I feel that the family is the place to establish what’s appropriate and inappropriate according to whatever values they may have while their child is a minor. If that’s too hard, or whatever excuse a parent wishes to use, place your child in a school that has mandatory uniforms that the parent deems suitable. Boring and controlling, yes, but at least feasible.

Back to the #CropTopTuesday movement, what I find the most interesting is the language used in the debate. Many adults are insisting it’s the same old rebellious rooted argument, and that may be true, but students are getting smart. This case is including a feminist voice. The students insist it’s so much more than a crop top. It’s really about sexism and female body shaming ingrained in our public education systems. Now, I am inclined to say, we are getting somewhere new. We are talking about more than teen angst.

Good for you, Halket. I suspect this is just the beginning from her.

What are your thoughts? Get over it or there’s more to this movement?