Follow TV Tropes

Following

Bare Your Midriff

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_midriffbared.jpg
You don't have to be a philosopher to navel gaze.
L - R, top to bottom 

"Now a lot of you might be wondering, why didn't I put Belle on there? Well, it's not that she wasn't beautiful, smart, and a well-developed character. It's just that, well... she didn't show her navel, and on this countdown that earns you, like, 20 more points."
The Nostalgia Critic, Top 11 Hottest Animated Women (referring to why just Jasmine and Ariel were second)

Midriff-baring outfits are popular in Real Life, and have been for centuries, although for a while, it was just in certain cultures and, within those cultures, certain occasions. It's more like 60 years that it's been widely considered acceptable. Even belly-dancing outfits weren't midriff-baring before the "cabaret style" began with the most famous "Little Egypt", a dancer who performed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

But since then, they've been a hit, with outfits ranging from tube tops to two-piece swimsuits. (Also commonly called a crop top, cropped top, belly shirt, half shirt, midriff shirt, midriff halter top, tummy top, short shirt, or cutoff shirt; also sometime seen with some halter tops, and dozens of non-American styles.) So this is a trope about costumes showing the curvy area around a woman's waist.

Note that simply showing the belly and a little skin around it, like a slightly open shirt, does not count. But a dress with a large section around the belly cut out does. Nor do completely naked characters count - although their midriff is bare, so is the rest of their body.

Western Animation in particular seems to love this, since it's an easy form of Fanservice that the radar invariably misses. Starting in the late 1990s and into the 2000s, the belly shirt seems to have become some kind of visual shorthand for "teenage girl". If someone does this in High School (actually in school), it's a case of No Dress Code.

This is mostly a female trope, but it can sometimes apply to male characters, if their lower torsos are really, really amazing. Bare midriffs on men can also be a sign that the man is Camp Gay or a Wholesome Crossdresser. The male version for the ladies is most often the Shirtless Scene.

This seems to be the only other form of fanservice in Bollywood besides Wet Sari Scene, because anything else would be too controversial.

Can come with a Minidress of Power, Chainmail Bikini, Lingerie Scene, Black Bra and Panties, Loincloth, Sexy Santa Dress, or Walking Swimsuit Scene as long as it is either a two-piece bikini or a topless monokini.

The Fat Slob sometimes employs this trope for Fan Disservice, always wearing a shirt that is too small to fully cover his huge gut. This is most often seen in kid's cartoons.

A Super Trope to a Fur Bikini, Seashell Bra. Compare Absolute Cleavage, Underboobs, Showgirl Skirt, Zettai Ryouiki (has a similar effect, but lower on the body). Not to Be Confused with Contemplate Our Navels, which means an act of deep philosophical thinking and has nothing to do with actual navels.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • DCU:
    • Huntress in Birds of Prey bared her midriff despite a full body costume and cape. Hey, if you did 700 sit-ups a day to maintain those gorgeous abs, wouldn't you? An irritant for many fans who remember the time Huntress got shot four times in the stomach. The belly window varies Depending on the Writer and artist, and Gail Simone said that her costume was going to be changed to not include it a few issues into the 2010 relaunch. Unfortunately, the title was cancelled mid-story. As of Huntress-Year One, her midriff is properly armored.
    • Stargirl from the JSA has worn a belly shirt since her first appearance in her short-lived solo book. She once justified it to Supergirl by noting that it sometimes distracted male opponents.
    • Several female Teen Titans seem to be going this route.
    • Supergirl: Post-Crisis Supergirl and some of her animated counterparts wear midriff-baring shirts. Cat Grant often mocked her by wearing that kind of outdated clothes. In Many Happy Returns, Linda Danvers also bares her midriff.
    • Hawkgirl and/or Hawkwoman, Post-Crisis at least. Appropriate, given Hawkman's status as a Flying Shirtless Scene.
    • Lorena Marquez, the second Aquagirl.
    • Superboy: Roxy's outfits all showed off her midriff before she joined the Police Academy and started tying to distance herself from her dad's schemes.
    • This is glaringly the costume theme for almost all female characters in Gotham City Garage. Even Nightwing gets in on the act by not wearing a shirt.
  • Marvel Universe:.
    • X-23, the Canon Immigrant female clone of Wolverine exemplifies this trope. Just about every thing she's worn, give or take a few outfits, shows her belly. It came to the point where when the third incarnation of X-Force was formed, she was the only girl in the team whose uniform had this. Good thing she didn't inherit Wolverine's propensity for chest hair. Notably, the few times where she had a uniform that isn't an example of this trope (other than her origin story where she was only about 13 or 14) was when it wasn't her creators Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost writing her (Chris Claremont first and later Christos Gage and Dennis Hopeless) so this might be due to Author Appeal.
    • Surge is also known for this. Makes for awkwardness when her roommate, a Muslim girl, makes a veiled insult in retaliation when Surge calls her out on her clothing.
    • The new(er) Scorpion, Carmilla Black has had some form of belly baring in all variations (though the variance isn't much) costumes she's worn.
    • Callisto of the Morlocks, maybe one of the pioneers of this look...
    • Elsa Bloodstone, especially her original costume (since it was based off her fathers, but since his bared his chest, and being a Marvel Comic they couldn't really bare hers anymore than they already were, the midriff was left more open seemingly to compensate.).
    • Dagger, as in: Cloak &, always had that dagger shape in the front of her costume that puts her navel prominently on display.
    • Jean Grey in Ultimate X-Men.
    • The Regan Wyngarde version of Lady Mastermind. Though hers is more in the "Dagger" style.
    • Julie Power (Lightspeed, formerly of Power Pack), who somehow was allowed to age while the rest of Marvel is stuck in eternal agelessness, wears no material between her ribcage and her belt. Notably, when the rest of the Pack team up with the children of the Future Foundation, Julie is back to wearing her old, full-body costume. This is either an art error or an intentional change to appear "classier" in front of the children.
    • The Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye in the Heinberg/Cheung era of Young Avengers. In the 2012 Hawkeye series and the Gillen/McKelvie era of Young Avengers she wears a more body-covering costume.
    • Incredible Hulk's Marvel NOW costume, which is a suit of armor that shows off his abs when transformed.
    • Ms. Marvel's first costume.
    • The Scarlet Witch wears one during the Kurt Busiek/George Perez era of The Avengers. They attempted to justify it with her saying she was going back to her gypsy roots, yet the outfit would have easily made her ancestors blush.
    • When Mark Bagely is drawing Ultimate Spider-Man, you can guarantee most of the girls will be drawn this way.
  • One of the many unpopular things about the Kelley Armstrong issues of the Angel comics was Kate Lochley's new midriff-baring costume, which was both out-of-character for someone who had previously dressed fairly professionally, and stupid for a non-powered human character in a canon full of hand-to-hand combat using edged weapons and claws.
  • After Jenny Quantum from The Authority aged herself to look like a young woman in her twenties, this became her dress code almost exclusively. At one point she got "tired of menstruating" and de-aged herself to look about 11. The bare midriffs stayed, however.
  • A character introduced in the new comic Biohazard: Heavenly Island, Inéz Diaco wears an outfit that shows her stomach, which is shown to be muscular. As well as pretty much every female contestant, given that it's a show where they basically wear swimsuits... its obvious...
  • Dinah from Blacksad has this and It's significant to the plot.
  • Claire Redfield, in the comic book of Code Veronica; since she is dressed that way in the game, it is unsurprising.
  • Many female characters in Biohazad Heavenly Island. In fact almost every character wears some sort of clothing that reveals their stomach, Such as Lara who wears a one piece with a Belly Window. and Inéz Diaco, who seems to have a muscular stomach in some parts of the comic. The only exception is Marilou who wears a dress.
  • Empowered: Sistah Spooky and Ninjette have baring-midriff Stripperiffic costumes. Same thing for Emp's hypermembrane as soon as it start getting shredded... that is, most of the time.
  • Colt from Femforce wore a short blue jacket that stopped just below her breasts, leaving her entire midriff bare.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors, Ash's girlfriend Caroline is shown wearing just a bikini, showing off her midriff. Furthermore, a girl getting mugged by a group of men at a railway station is shown wearing a midriff exposing shirt and three of the nightmare warriors (Tina, Rennie and Stephanie) are all shown wearing shirts that show off their belly and bellybuttons. Later, Maggie Burroughs/Kathryn Krueger is transformed into a new outfit by Freddy which shows off her midriff.
  • Gemini Storm's Elizabeth Rose.
  • In the SLG Gargoyles comic, Angela's look changed to fit this trope, whereas previously (as in the animated series) she had a single-piece tunic.
  • In the French-Canadian comic book Les Nombrils, as could be guessed from its title, bared midriffs are a definite feature of the title girl trio.
  • After nearly 70 years of wearing a one-piece bathing suit, Phantom Lady started doing this.
  • Powers has Deena Pilgrim, who as a detective is allowed to come up with her own dress code. As she remarks to her pissed-off partner Christian Walker early on, while trying to get him to forgive her for going through his things (she thought he had powers): "And I wear these little belly shirts. That's gotta do something for you, right?" It's far less Stripperiffic than normal for a comic book, but she wears midriff-baring shirts almost exclusively. Some of the regular heroines of the Powers world go for the more traditional comic book heroine outfits, though.
  • Ashleigh from Scion. All of the time.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, throughout Tales of the Jedi several male alien Jedi wore midriff-baring shirts, most notably Memit Nadill and Odan-Urr.
  • Van Von Hunter's perpetually amnesiac sidekick, whose outfit consists of a vest that covers her up top to the diaphragm, low-cut trousers with panty-flash splits, boots, and of course The Gloves of Lifting.
  • Any female character in the Archie Comics franchise who isn't Ethel or Miss Grundy has a tendency towards this.

    Comic Strips 
  • Miss Buxley in Beetle Bailey does this regularly. Usually, she's wearing a bikini when she shows her midriff, although she wears a matching mini skirt and cropped top to the office in one strip and wears just her bra and panties in another.

    Fan Works 
  • Acia Rose in Clash of the Elements does this, as stated by the narrator.
  • Last Child of Krypton: When Asuka becomes the next Wonder Woman she rips parts of her plugsuit off, leaving her arms, legs and belly bare.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka's Supergirl costume is based on one of the outfits of Kara Zor-El. When Shinji sees her costume for first time he notices very acutely that her very tight blue shirt "left her toned midriff bare".
  • In Forum of Thrones, Alysanne's clothes typically have this. It is decidedly not for Fanservice though, but rather out of the practical reason that it allows her to move more freely and also to give more room to the bandages that cover up the burn scars on her lower torso.
  • This is a common fashion among monsters in Anonymooses Monster Girl Saga.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney
    • Gideon the cat in Pinocchio wears a purple shirt with loose sleeves that is too short to cover his belly.
    • Mr. Smee in Peter Pan. In fact, the pirates always hoist him up by his shirt, exposing his belly. In the scene when he first comes out, a pirate grabs him and starts belly-jabbing Smee with his sword, causing Smee to suck his belly in to avoid the sharp and painful sting. However, he's an elderly, plump man, so it's not played for Fanservice.
    • The Little Mermaid: Ariel in her mermaid form wears a Seashell Bra. Although technically this is "bra only" — she doesn't wear anything on her fish half. Her sisters (and in fact almost all mermaids) also wear Seashell Bras.
      • Melody in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea to a lesser extent. Her full clothes do cover her midriff, but after she becomes a mermaid her shirt turns out to be to short to conceal it without her pants.
    • Aladdin: Jasmine's outfit, which codified the Bedlah Babe trope for modern audiences. Aladdin's outfit too.
    • Nakoma in Pocahontas. She has a crop top and skirt that shows only her diaphragm.
    • Some secondary characters in A Goofy Movie. Lisa that has a black bikini top and ripped blue jeans and the Powerline dancers. These are justified for their work, but Lisa is the only female student with this look.
    • Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire, except at the end of the film when she switches to a less revealing royal outfit.
    • Jane Porter at the end of Tarzan switches from her usual Victorian dress to a Fur Bikini.
    • Nani from Lilo & Stitch wears clothes like this. Justified, as she lives in Hawaii where the climate is very warm.
    • Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog wears a purple vest that exposes his belly.
    • Shanti from The Jungle Book 2, who is depicted here with a ponytail, a yellow choli, and a purple skirt (in the first film, she wore pigtails and a strapless purple dress with a pink sash at the waist).
    • Gazelle in Zootopia, being an Ink-Suit Actor version of Shakira, wears a midriff-baring outfit similar to her. Duke Weaselton also wears a shirt that's several numbers too small for his long, slinky weasel body.
    • The title character of Moana wears a midriff-baring top, but a high-waisted skirt that covers her navel, effectively baring her diaphragm rather than her midriff.
  • Daphne in Aloha, Scooby-Doo!. It is believed she is wearing a bikini underneath her midriff shirt and skirt.
  • Crysta from FernGully: The Last Rainforest wears a red Fairy Sexy dress that reveals her midriff.
  • Teegra from Fire and Ice wears, practically, nothing but a bikini.
  • Dolly Gnome from Gnomeo and Juliet.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Tzipporah is first introduced in an outfit with a midriff-baring top. She wears a different outfit that averts the trope for the rest of the movie.
  • Linda from Rio in her Carnival costume. It's very out-of-character for her and she visibly feels uncomfortable in it, but Tulio finds her very attractive in it.
  • Chel in The Road to El Dorado has a midriff baring top that hardly covers her breasts.
  • Lola Bunny from Space Jam has the crop-top and shorts combo both as her on-court uniform, and as her try-out apparel.
  • The mermaid Princess Mindy in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.
  • DJ Suki from Trolls wears a top that shows off her navel area that contains a gem.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship: This being a Beach Episode for the series, the swimwear worn by Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Sunset Shimmer and Trixie include bared midriffs.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • A notorious cliché of the covers of Urban Fantasy novels featuring Action Girl protagonists.
  • Queen from María Pascual's character group "The Pack".
  • Ellie Sattler in the original Jurassic Park novel. In the film she wears a top that covers her midriff under her pink knot-up shirt.
  • Masha from Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures books aims to prove that one doesn't need a slim figure to wear a bare midriff outfit. Many other characters really wish she wouldn't.
  • In the first The Kingdom Keepers book, Amanda is noted to dress this way. Charlene's Virtual Magic Kingdom avatar dresses this way as well.
  • In Animorphs 'In The Time Of Dinosaurs' Rachel discusses the 'bare midriff look.'
  • Jarlaxle, for his first couple of appearances at least. It helps that the Underdark has a fairly constant temperature.
  • Part of Bree Pym's "youthful take on funeral attire" in Aunt Dimity Down Under was a black miniskirt paired with "a clinging black sweater that covered her tattoos but didn't quite cover her tummy."
  • Kajiya in Destined to Lead, even depicted on the cover art. However, she gets a non-midriff bearing outfit in book two, according to Word of God.
  • Many fairies in the Rainbow Magic series do this on the covers of their books. Since they look very young, however, it's not very fanservicey.
  • Justified in The Poster Children with Jenny Chambers. Her powers open a portal over her abdomen so she can't wear anything over it if she needs to use it.
  • Claire Redfield in the novelization of Code Veronica. (Unsurprisingly. Since she is dressed this way in the game and comic.)
  • Deconstructed in Stephen King's Song of Susannah: The eponymous heroine Susannah, having last seen New York in 1964, time-travels to New York in 1999, where she is astonished that women are walking around with their bellies exposed.
  • Some of the characters in Spectral Shadows do this, such as Princess Tabby Tiger in Serial 2, some of the female brothel workers' outfits in Serial 11, and Saint Saffron's costume from the same serial.
  • Jack Slash in Worm.

    Music 

    Pinballs 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Quite common for females in Professional Wrestling.
  • Stevie Richards often wore a midriff-baring tank top.
  • Early in her career, Princesa Sujei cut a hole out of her singlet to show off her six pack.
  • The All Night Express, Kenny King and Rhett Titus, wore hooded sweat shirts that had their torsos exposed on ROH TV.
  • After Super Shenlong III lost his mask to Akira Tozawa at the conclusion of the Mad Blankey vs -akatsuki- conflict in Dragon Gate, this became his new look as Yosuke (loves) Santa Maria.
  • Kofi Kingston in 2017 often wore a midriff-baring tank top.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • This seems to be a popular look in the world of RWBY. Most of Yang and Blake's outfits, Emerald's standard outfit, Cinder's tournament outfit, Neopolitan's tournament outfit, and Neon's standard outfit are all designed with midriff display in mind.
  • Rainbow Dash in her Imagine Spot, and Daring Do in the cover of the book.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Stephanie wears a gray one.
  • Dreamscape: Soya is a rare non-flamboyant male example of this.

    Web Original 

    Real Life 
  • Particularly common as athletic attire. Many women in warm climates choose to work out or run wearing only a sports bra for entirely practical reasons.
  • Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton. Dear God, PARIS HILTON!
  • Before the early-eighties, which is when manufacturers began making half t-shirts, young women would bare their midriffs by tying the bottom front into a knot.
  • Had its peak period in the West during the late 1990s and early 2000s, where a look for women involving cropped tops and extremely low-waisted trousers or skirts (for the really daring, below the top of the pelvis) became popular on the street and practically enforced for young female entertainment personalities. Died out because of how unflattering it was if you didn't have an absolutely flat stomach (the term "muffin top" was coined). It started to reappear slightly in the late 2010s, but without the exaggeratedly low waistlines of the turn of the century.
  • Cheerleaders: Many high school and college cheerleaders often do this by wearing bikinis and shorts and bikini tops during their car wash fundraisers.
  • Hooters Girls.
  • Wet T-shirt contests. (Warning, NSFW)
  • Jessica Nigri in most of her cosplay outfits.
  • These Vietnamese flight attendants perform a sexy bikini tops dance.

Alternative Title(s): Midriff Baring Outfit

Top