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Show your abs, the return of the trend that questions

At the top, a bra cut from a men’s trouser belt, at the bottom, a low rise mini skirt matched and, in the middle, a belly that is bare, disproportionate, muscular, from below the breasts to the birth of the pubis.

As passed by the rebellious scissors of a high school girl in need of body expression, girls from the series Euphoria and, before them, to Britney Spears in the clip for Baby One More Time), the look imagined by Miuccia Prada for Miu Miu has become, since its appearance on the catwalks, a viral phenomenon generating its own memes and even its Instagram account.

Founded by Ashley Langholtz, a 17-year-old New York stylist, @miumiuset lists the sulphurous public appearances together: more than ninety to date!

From Paloma Elsesser to Nicole Kidman via Cindy Bruna, Emily Ratajkowski, Lorde, Chiara Ferragni or the male model Yugo Takano, all have succumbed to the call of the belly.

Because it’s a fact: at a time when designers are celebrating a sensual femininity freed from the fleece chrysalis in which the pandemic had locked it, the navel is emerging as the new erotic epicenter of fashion.

From tops reduced to the state of bras or bikinis to the return of low-waisted pants and skirts, passing through the effects of cut out on the abdomen, the entire wardrobe of the season is a showcase for its extreme unveiling. Even its most bling ornamentation: thank you Chanel waist chains and navel jewelry !

Has the belly become the new neckline?

The female body, always hypersexualized

“It’s a very sexualized area,” explains Jean-François Amadieu, director of the Discrimination Observatory and author of The Society of Appearance. The beautiful, the young… and the others.

He adds: “When you bare the belly, you also reveal the waist, which is the element of feminine differentiation par excellence. Even today, it is its thinness in relation to the hips that defines, for men , the most sexually attractive figure”.

For a long time, therefore, fashion left this part of the body deemed unseemly out of sight. We have to wait until 1946 and the invention of the bikini to finally see it come out into the open.

But then what a scandal! In the city, the crop top made its appearance in the 90s, popularized by Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child or the series beverly hills.

“At the time, we wore it more with baggy masculine pants and a surplus shirt”, recalls Thomas Zylberman, fashion expert at Carlin International, “Showing your belly then resembles a rebellious and melancholic attitude, that of a teenager who grew up too fast and was overflowing in her child’s clothes”.

With the advent of ultra-low-rise jeans at the turn of the 2000s, it became the erotic playground of pop lolitas flaunting their youthful, tanned abs to the noses of puritanical America.

“It was the triumph of the style popularized by Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Loana, with its hourglass silhouette, its micro-tops and the visible thong under the pants”, continues Thomas Zylberman, “At the moment, this era arouses real nostalgia , especially among very young girls who associate it with a period of freedom, excess and fun”.

Hence the reappearance on the catwalks of this silhouette which more generally marks the triumphant return of the body.

After ten years of puritanical minimalism and unisex streetwear, followed by two years of pandemic, will the revenge of femininity pass through the stomach?

For the young generation who lived through the #MeToo revolution, this unveiling is a way of asserting their sexual freedom and self-confidence (isn’t the belly also the seat of courage?).

Or, as summed up this season Nensi Dojaka, queen of neo-sexy: “Showing your femininity can be the thing that gives you the most strength”.

A new race for injunctions on bodies

“This season on the catwalks, we see a lot of toned bodies, healthywhich express the idea of ​​​​a femininity that is not submissive”, confirms Thomas Zylberman, “It was obvious on the Miu Miu show, which eroticized male clothes by revealing very widely sculpted abs”.

Should we therefore fear the return of size 0 and the cult of the eternally young body dear to the 2000s -Britney Spears imposed herself a thousand crunches a day to have a flat stomach? The question is in any case debated.

At the end of last February, Nicole Kidman, 54, provoked a wave of indignation by wearing the miu miu micro set on the cover of Vanity Fair’s special Hollywood issue.

The object of the wrath of his fans? Abs too perfect not to have been photoshopped and a sexy teenage outfit suggesting that she does not assume her age.

It’s a “look at me but don’t touch me” – Eugene Rabkin

This tendency is elitist. We know how much the belly, mistreated by pregnancies, weight gain, aging, is the part of the body that generates the most complexes in women.

But attitudes are changing. It is no coincidence that the “body positive” movement has made it a banner of its fight by posting realistic photos on social networks – we remember the hashtag #BellyJelly.

This season is the top Paloma Elsesser who served as a model for this inclusive sexy by assuming her love handles under pencil skirts worn with bras, like at Michael Kors.

“I hadn’t seen such a relationship between fashion and nudity since my teenage years,” the American designer told WWD, “When I was young, if you weren’t Raquel Welch, you were excluded from it. Today ‘today, we have a new mentality… Well-being comes from the confidence that people have in themselves, from their way of looking at their body positively”.

Showing your belly, a new exhibitionism?

The phenomenon is not limited to women. Men also see their T-shirts or sweaters shorten dizzyingly, especially on the Balenciaga or Fendi fashion shows.

Appearing on TikTok, the trend even had its heyday last February with a controversial video of influencer Benjamin Ledig twerking in a church in… a crop top.

For Jean-François Amadieu, however, the last taboo of the navel in the air remains age.

“Just see how the latest campaign Darjeeling, which showed a model in her 60s in her underwear, was welcomed. In France, we are not yet ready to accept the bellies marked by time”. However, the fifties resist.

From Jennifer Lopez to Carla Bruni, who posed in a high-cut jumpsuit on the navel for the latest Balmain campaign, the image of bodies frozen in an adolescent aesthetic is always a dream.

And not always the one you think of. Indeed, it is misleading to imagine that hypersexualization is necessarily aimed at male gaze and not at women themselves.

Or as journalist Eugene Rabkin summed it up in the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia: revealing the belly, “is a ‘look at me but don’t touch me. Replacing a prelude to sex with a kind of heightened exhibitionism corresponds to the current cultural climate which purifies itself from the sexual act but retains a certain voyeuristic charm”.

From the navel to the navel, there would therefore seem to be only a small piece of skin.

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