Explained: Why are people in Denmark posting pictures of their bare bellies?

People in Denmark are posting pictures of themselves in crop tops on social media in protest at a school's decision to ban the belly-revealing garments. The Local explains what's going on.

Explained: Why are people in Denmark posting pictures of their bare bellies?
Sofie Linde, presenter of Denmark's X-factor talent show, bares her midriff in solidarity with the pupils at Firehøjeskolen. Photo: Instagram

What is the bare belly phenomenon? 

Politicians, comedians and other celebrities have been posting pictures of their bare bellies on Facebook and Instagram. 

Here’s Charlotte Broman Mølbæk, an MP for the Socialist Left party, baring her midriff. 

Here’s the comedian and actor Ditte Hansen. 

Here’s the comedian and cartoonist Ander Morganthaler. 

…and here’s X-factor presenter and  #MeToo activist Sofie Linde. 

What going on? 

The Firehøjeskolen school in Vejle, on the southeast corner of the Jutland peninsular, this week decided to bring in a ban on maveblusser or “crop-tops”, with the head teacher Bjarne Kyneb arguing that they were distracting for other students.

“In school we are a community where we are close to each other, and that also requires that we wear clothes which let everyone concentrate on the schoolwork to be done,” he said. “We do not go to work in shorts and bare stomachs either.” 

What has the reaction been?

The hashtag #DeterBareMaver, meaning “it’s only a tummy” has taken off, with politicians and celebrities, including former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Pernille Skipper, former leader of the Red-Green alliance, all weighing in to criticise the school’s ban. 

Part of the solidarity from people in their thirties and forties is probably due to the fact that they themselves were teens when the crop-top was last in fashion, back in the 1990s. 

Skipper recalled how when she was in 8th class (aged 14-15), her crop-top hadn’t even had any material on the back at all, “just a couple of thin strings”. 

“All the boys in my class are, so far as I know, still good citizens all the same,” she joked. 

“When do we stop telling girls what they can wear?” Helle Thorning-Schmidt complained in an Instagram story. “What will be next?”. 
Marchen Neel, chief editor of the Politiken newspaper, wrote on Twitter that she had worn a crop-top and hotpants to her confirmation in church. “I had the freedom to choose, thank you very much. But believe me, it’s not really something you should wish for.”

What does #DeterBareMaver even mean? 

The hashtag means “it’s only a stomach”, punning on the Danish word bare, which means “naked” in English.   

It was launched by the Everyday Sexism Project Danmark soon after news broke of the crop-top ban, with the feminist activist group then posting out pictures of people baring their tummies.

What happens now? 

So far there’s been no public reaction from Bjarne Kyneb, the headteacher who has unwittingly triggered this social media storm, but he must be seriously considering whether it might be easier to just let his pupils wear what they want. 

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