Modern feminism has taken on a new image, and it comes in the form of a cropped slogan baby tee. From the original nineties “DUMP HIM” to OGBFF’s “FLOP ERA” revival, why are we so obsessed with looking like a walking billboard? (Although undeniably, a hot one.)
In the early 2000s, shrunken crop tops were popularised by celebrities, namely the likes of Britney Spears, Jennifer Anniston, Linsey Lohan, and Paris Hilton, who each were photographed in their own iconic iterations of the garment. Britney’s memorable “DUMP HIM” slogan t-shirt, which she famously donned as an anti-boyfriend statement (post JT) is now one of her most easily identifiable costumes. Paris is similarly renowned for her widely recognised “STOP BEING DESPERATE” printed tee, which caused major backlash, largely due to the doctoring of the shirt to read “STOP BEING POOR”.
What both Britney’s and Paris’ iconic tops have in common is their tongue-in-cheek catch-phrases: exaggerated and sarcastic iterations of many modern women’s outward views on society. You can see how traditionally feminine roles and ideologies are dramatised via the slogan tees’ mocking tones, particularly for example on Britney’s “MILF IN TRAINING” tank. Often dubbed the “clap-back t-shirt”, the ironic and controversial nature of the language depicted on the tees is intended to attract attention. But the timeless question is, to what extent are they to be taken seriously?
With neo-feminism rejuvinating the mindset that being conventionally and unapologetically feminine is something to be celebrated, the slogan baby tee is evidently championing this principle. However, its agenda may be even more political than you think. The arguable ‘god-mother’ of the slogan t-shirt, Katherine Hamnett, became infamous for her designs long before Britney pulled one over her head. One of Hamnet’s most memorable tops bore the slogan “CHOOSE LIFE” and was donned at the time by the likes of George Michael and Queen. She’s said in reference to the slogan that she simply “believes in a woman’s right to choose”, a sentiment that’s somehow still considered controversial today.
Nowadays, the likes of popular Gen Z clothing brands OGBFF and Praying don’t appear to be using their baby tees to spark a riot; however, the overwhelmingly “girl-boss” tone of their tees remains. Notably OGBFF’s “YOUR SON IS A HOE” and “NO BOYFRIEND” tees are highly reminiscent of the noughties clap-back slogan era. Likewise, Praying’s “GIVE GIRLS MONEY” crop top with matching shoulder bag successfully conveys the tone.
Similarly, many luxury brands have taken to the trend, with London-based fashion designer Mowalola featuring a collection of baby tees stamped with the memorable slogans “BAD SLUT” and “I HAVE NO PERSONALITY”. The ode to exaggerated bimbo-core exhibited on Mowalola’s tees is a clear reflection of our current desire to move away from conformity.
Whilst certain iterations of the slogan baby tee may err on the side of controversial, the main thing they all have in common is their refusal to be ignored. The persona portrayed by the tone of each shrunken crop top is equally as jarring as it is endearing. It’s as though your t-shirt has the personality of one of those hot girls you meet in a club bathroom who tell you to stop messaging your ex. And we’re here for it.
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