As we chatted I explained to him the baggy pants style began in the mid 1980’s with the birth and spread of hip-hop. I remember so well, pulling my oversized men’s pants down to my hips. The look was actually slimming to a larger girl like me as an added bonus. I also, remember, our assistant principal calling several of us into the office and telling us to pull up our pants – or be sent home, with zeros for the day. I am pretty sure that we did as he asked, at least until he turned around anyway.
Sometime later, I learned the baggy pant style I sported (well into my 20’s) had negative beginnings. The style allegedly began as a salute to prison attire, which consisted of oversized pants and shirts. Often the pants would be falling down and inmates were not allowed to have a belt. Another claim is even more disturbing. Supposedly, the pants worn low, hanging down, were an invitation for sex in the prison world. Perhaps, I always thought, some kid just could not afford a belt and started walking around holding up his britches the best he could.
Either way, baggy pants; they came and they have endured. (Parker, 2009) Some kids may be aware the style is reminiscent of prison attire. They might actually embrace the idea. The majority of the kids, however, who exhibit baggy pants, are more likely interested in looking like their peers, emulating musicians and actors, and wearing something that is defiant of the conservative nature of authority. Having a glance at someone’s underwear can be offensive. It can be downright aggravating.
Even the president has chimed in on the controversial subject of baggy jeans. He said during his 2008 campaign( to MTV), “There are some issues we face, that you don’t have to pass a law, but that doesn’t mean folks can’t have some sense and some respect for other people, and you know some people might not want to see your underwear – I’m one of them. ” (Blunk, 2012) I would have to agree with the president that I don’t want to see the underwear of young men with “pants on the ground. By the same standard, though, I would also like not to see, but cracks of older men hanging out, men in running shorts who expose their scrotum, muffin tops, thong underwear revealed, cops in cowboy boots, camel toes, and PLEASE, NO leggings worn by anyone over the age of ten. However bothersome, ugly, gross, annoying, disrespectful, or distasteful baggy pants are – or any other fashion fiasco – none qualify as a good reason to pass a law. If baggy pants are linked to crime – especially gang crime – such as lawmakers in Hawkinsville, GA, Trenton, NJ, and several towns in Louisiana claim, then it seems a fair ypothesis that all cowboy boot cops are racist, but crack revealers are child molesters and any woman who bears her thong is surely a “ho”. With a system such as this, racial profiling or any other profiling for that matter will become tools of the past. All we will need to ask is, “what were they wearing? ” (Walton, 2011) (Parker, 2009) In spite of the fact that many people do not appreciate the appearance of baggy jeans, banning them is a counterproductive way to promote moral code or reduce crimes committed by young people.
Pants are not a driving factor behind crime statistics. What leads to a life of crime are elements like socio-economics, education or lack of, history of crime in a family, and other situational elements. (Parker, 2009) It is not the baggy pants we have to worry about but, rather, the brain connected to the neck, connected to the torso, connected to the legs that hold the pants up. Unless you take into consideration, of course, the one benefit to law enforcement that baggy pants bring to the table; they are detrimental to the objective of escape!
It seems to me that a cop would only hope for criminal wearing baggy jeans when in pursuit! Simply put, baggy jeans are a police officer’s best friend. (Feb. 17th, 2012) There is always an article of clothing or fashion statement for Americans to consider offensive. In the past it was anti-short skirts for women, anti-long hair for men, and anti-leather jackets for all. We graduated to anti-glove, anti-piercings, and anti-hoodie. But, the style… and hatred for it…. that has endured longest is… anti-baggy pants. (Walton, 2011)
Americans are often guilty of setting limits on the issues that are irrelevant. If there is a school shooting – supply more cameras and metal detectors, if the classrooms are crowded and kids won’t listen then drug everyone up, and if kids are texting on cell phones while driving and dying from it then create a bumper sticker. Geeze! If we are worried about violence, crime, or the unsuccessful lives of young people, why then do we not set real, stern, limits on the things that hurt young people most; guns, drugs, automobiles, alcohol, tobacco and caffeine ?
Perhaps this is because all of these things make money for a lot of people in our country. So, we go after the one thing that cannot talk back – a pair of pants. Or can they? Julius Hart was arrested in 2011 in Riviera Beach, Florida for wearing pants that were considered too low; exposing at least four inches of his boxer shorts. He spent the night in jail and was fined $150. 00. He decided to take the case to court and challenge the law. He claims wearing baggy pants is his constitutional right and he is hurting no one. The case is pending in the West Palm Beach Court. . (Feb. 17th, 2012,)
This is just one example of what I like to think of as the “rise of the baggies,” but there are more. When the West Virginia House of Representatives tried to outlaw the wearing of low-slung pants circa 2007, they received ridicule from Sydney to London. Comedians joked about a “boxer’s rebellion,” and there were so many conflicting online political blogs the state Senate quickly killed the bill. (Parker, 2009) This mockery has not stopped other politicians from trying to eradicate the fashion we know as “the baggies. ” Bans have become law or are being considered in at least eight states.
The movement is fueled by growing worries that sloppy dress by America’s youth could be related to delinquency, poor learning and crime. (Parker, 2009) Elements of our society are obsessed with what the youth is trying to express in their attire. For me, however, the concern lies more in what they are not expressing in their attire; “I am not secure,” “I am not seeking a professional position,” “I am not able to stand apart from my crowd of peers”. I do not believe laws can solve attire concerns such as this; only education, consideration and personal motivation will do the job.
There is racial discussion surrounding this debate. Many people, including law makers and religious affiliates, in all racial groups see this primarily as a black issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you walk down the halls of any white middle school or high school you will find there are many white boys wearing pants, “low and baggy. ” The style is no longer associated as a hip-hop trend. It is cross-culture, crosses over socio-economic boundaries, and can be associated with also: punk, grunge, and mod, all trends that have surfaced in recent years. This is not a black issue as much as some may want it to be.
Although I am resistant to this being racial issue, I am glad that many of the laws proposing bans on baggy pants have been met with resistance and action by the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). This is not just racial profiling. It is wardrobe profiling. I guess this means that all men in expensive suits are going to steal my retirement fund, or perhaps my son, who got cold in the theater and put his hoodie on…is actually a gun toting gang member. Conceivably a Supreme Court case for this would read, “The U. S. Supreme Court against Clothes! It makes me wonder if we are actually being manipulated by the powers that be…into a society of nudity. Maybe they just want to see us all naked. I think I will stick with the baggy pants. (Blunk, 2012) “Droopy Drawers,” “baggies,” or just “pants on the ground,” as they are referred to, are a fashion statement. For some, wearing them may mean a little more, for others they are only following the crowd. Some say it’s a ridiculously stupid, annoying, and sloppy way to dress. Others do not bother to care either way. Many folks connect these pants to criminal behavior. I do not and furthermore, I find it absurd that others do.