At school the crop top is declared war again

07:00, September 12, 2022

Quebecers call it a “bellied sweater”. Well seen: ordinary scene, this week, in front of the Montgrand secondary school in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône), where almost a quarter of the girls – and sometimes a few boys according to testimonials but not that day – arrive in the navel class in the sky under the crop tops. belly button shirt? Of the « modern wardrobe pieces [qui] brighten up any look »according to the H&M catalog.

Since the start of the school year, the “cropped top” (literal translation from English) has haunted the schools of France, a revival of American fashion from the 1990s, when Britney Spears rocked from the belly button on Baby One More Time. The length of this bra brightens up discussions about the ‘right attire’ needed to go to class. Problem: The margin of interpretation is large. “The law sets certain limits, the most famous of which is banning the wearing of religious symbols in school in 2004, recalls Lyon attorney Pierrick Gardien. But it is silent about “appropriate” clothing and leaves it to internal regulations to specify this on a case-by-case basis. » For the lawyer, the system is quite balanced: “If we don’t return to the uniform, a law would be too rigid to adapt to fashion over time.”

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“It’s debate in our family”

Some establishments ban “tap socks” (too vacation), others “low cut necklines” (too sexy), others… nothing at all! In short, the dressing room of the National Education is a mess, the problem of the “belly sweater” even goes back to the head of state. In an interview on Shein 2021 Emmanuel Macron declared himself “unlike the crop top, not fitted” for school. The Ace. He will be everywhere in this new school year. “I have the impression that my daughter goes to school in a bra”sighs a mother. “My son steals it from his girlfriends”testifies Isabelle Wisniewski, following a photo of Roman, 13, in “total look genderfluid”. If colleges or high schools ban it, we try to eliminate it more discreetly elsewhere, such as at parent-teacher meetings. “The reception time devoted to condemning crop tops and ripped jeans, targeting girls, targeting, I quote, “vulgarity” of these outfits are being questioned »pings on Tweeter Françoise Cahen, literature teacher in Val-de-Marne. “It is debated in our family, tells Julie Langre, mother of a high school student. In my opinion this is not good clothes for going to class. »​

Some girls are very clear with the social norm, which they discuss again

Author of (the excellent) All the same ? fashion and freedom (Gallimard jeunesse Giboulées, 2019), Jennifer Thiaut reminds us that fashion is a language: “Clothes are in fact polysemous. The crop top can mean several things: the confirmation of the body at the age of change, belonging to the group of young people, a form of subversion in relation to adult codes… Or simply the taste for this form of dress! » In La Ciotat (Bouches-du-Rhône), Julie Mayeur, 18, has a bitter memory: “I was the first in, I put one on without even thinking about it, you could barely see my stomach. » In the hall of the school, the CPE challenges him: “You are half naked, come in and change. » The schoolgirl is outraged that a ” Ladies [la] make you feel ashamed in front of everyone”. His parents report the matter on Facebook, La Provence repeats it. “The school called me. The CPE asked me for what purpose I dressed like this. I had tears in my eyes, it reminded me of a painful episode. In fourth grade, a counselor asked me to change because my skirt could “excite the boys”. » Julie Mayeur resists and continues to dress as she pleases: “The girls in my high school supported me. We don’t dress for others, but for ourselves. We are tired of this society and this way of thinking. »

“A very heavy social weight on young girls”

Marie-Pierre Julien, lecturer-researcher at the University of Lorraine, has conducted several studies on this subject. “It’s always the same story: too long a skirt and you’re a fundamentalist, too short and you’re a seducer. A very heavy social weight is placed on young girls. But the new generation is strong. Some girls are very clear with the social norm, which they discuss again. » The sociologist and anthropologist reminds us that the school is intended as a protected place where “it would be interesting to let them experiment with clothes”. In the event of an inappropriate response, this would allow:“engage in a dialogue about what is right or wrong”. Laurent Zameczkowski, Vice-President of the Federation of Parents of Pupils in Public Education, prefers to call for dialogue: “Students at this age are very sensitive to injustice. If there is a ban, it must be fair, consultation between the heads of institutions and the parents’ associations, so that we can unite. » Julie Mayeur, she becomes a philosopher: “It was violent, but I felt it was an important step in my career as a woman, that I had to fight for my values. » The crop top, this flag.

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