fashion

'How wearing crop tops helped me embrace the parts of my body I wanted to hide.'

Summer is here! So my future should involve pool days, sweating profusely on public transport and embracing more scantily clad fashion.

Crop tops are very much having a moment, and as a plus-size woman, I am so into this trend. Who doesn’t love to feel the sun on their tum? (Don’t forget the sunscreen!) 

Honestly, learning to embrace crop tops has been a really empowering experience, because it’s helped me make peace with my non-flat stomach.  

Watch Mamamia's Clare Stephens review non-family friendly fashion. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to have a flat stomach. I grew up in the early 2000s when Paris Hilton was a sex symbol and Raven-Symoné was considered fat, and the Olsen Twins were fashion icons. 

It was a time of low-rise jeans and singlets that ended at your belly button. I was round, filled with hormones and looked nothing like Ms Hilton - and it made me feel completely excluded from the fashion of the time.  

Thankfully, I grew up, but I didn’t get less round. But I have learned to enjoy my body and fashion. Something I’ve learned over the years is that if there’s a part of your body that you feel unhappy and insecure about, you need to embrace it and be kind to it.  

This sounds pretty abstract, but what I mean by that is start finding ways to enjoy the part of your body that you feel most insecure about. Stop allowing that inner voice to constantly criticise it. 

If you don’t like your arms, find an activity you enjoy that involves using them. Perhaps it’s tennis, stretching or just reaching for the television remote! 

It really doesn’t matter, just find a way to see value in your body exactly as it is, stop hating on yourself and your bits and concentrate on how it’s actually working for you. 

I hate to be trite, but loving ourselves a bit more is a great place to start.

Find clothing that makes you happy. Perhaps it’s a glittery long sleeve shirt that makes you realise how gorgeous your arms look wrapped in glitter and makes you feel sexy (I’d recommend the label Dyspnea if you are looking for said 'fit). Find a way to enjoy and accessorise the part of your body you most dislike. 

Believe me, if you do this, with time you’ll begin to feel better and better about it.

In my early twenties, I began to really hate my stomach because it wasn’t flat and it had the ability to bulge over all types of clothing. Basically, it looked nothing like Lara Bingle’s stomach so it wasn’t good enough. 

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I’d watch sex scenes in movies and TV shows and be desperate to see a stomach roll on a woman, just to feel a bit more normal. I wanted to see a woman with a tummy being sexy, enjoying sex or just being fashionable. 

But I wasn’t finding it in mainstream media or magazines and it made me feel like there was something wrong with me... and more specifically, my stomach.  

However, during this time I also discovered that Instagram was filled with plus-size women showing off their stomachs, from Tess Holliday to Flex Mami! I began to alter my thinking and learnt how to embrace my stomach rather than desperately trying to conceal it. 

Enter the crop top!  

Mary Rose in a crop top. Image: Supplied.

They’ve become a staple in my wardrobe, and it’s not because my stomach has suddenly become flat, it’s because I’ve learned how to love and style my tummy. I like how they are light, easy and breezy and they add a bit of effortless cool to any outfit.

So, how do you wear them? Well, the short answer is any way you want, but of course I do have a personal preference.

I have big boobs, so I've found traditional crop tops that just sort of hang over you, don’t work for me. They make me feel more bulky and less Pamela Anderson. 

Instead, I’ve embraced traditional t-shirts and tying them up to emphasise my waist and show off my stomach. I find this helps divide where my boobs end and my tummy begins, and gives me a really nice shape. It doesn’t conceal my tummy by any means; it shows it off in a way that makes me feel confident.

Listen to Mamamia's fashion podcast, What Are You Wearing, as hosts Tamara and Deni discuss the issues of sizing with plus-size influencer Katie Parrott. Post continues after podcast. 

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What should you wear with a wear crop top?

Once again, the answer really is anything. Anything that makes you feel gorgeous, and I have got that down to a fine art.

I like high waisted pants, even leggings - but I don’t like the digging feeling so they tend to be made from soft fabrics. I love Obus, Edgeley and Kmart for these kinds of classic fits.

If you’ve never bought a crop top before, I can tell you in advance that you don’t need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe to go with them - whatever you feel good in will work. 

That’s the great thing about them; they go with everything and can instantly dress down an outfit or add some edge to it.

I also love a crop with skirts, long or short - there’s no particular formula. But I always opt for a high-waisted fit. 

In terms of the brands I turn to, I go for anything and everything! I love Variety Hour, Dangerfield, Obus and Edgeley, City Chic or vintage. If I need a bargain, I head to Kmart or Big W.

The truth is, wearing half a t-shirt isn’t exactly hard, but it’s getting to the headspace to feel gorgeous in it.

I understand that when your stomach isn’t flat this can feel overwhelming, but really it’s about finding a shape that works for you. 

You also don’t have to show off your whole stomach if you don’t want to! Start by showing a little bit of skin, get comfortable with it and learn to love yourself in all your full-bodied glory.

You can follow MaryRose on Instagram here

Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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