I read your recent column about girls whose rear ends show over their low-slung jeans (11/21/08) and wondered about boys who wear their own pants so low that 1) we have the "pleasure" of seeing their boxer shorts, and 2) they can't walk down the street without having to hold them up by the waistband. Do they think this is attractive? Do they think girls think it's attractive? Aren't they concerned about either tripping over them or having them fall down mid-stride? I have a young-adult daughter who tells me that girls think this is ridiculous, so what gives?
Victor's Secret: Yo, moms, don't be hatin'. Saggin' is fly, fo' sheezy. Translation: Excuse me, madam, but you need to calm down. Wearing one's pants so low that one's underwear shows is a stylish way to present oneself in public, and I ain't just whistlin' Dixie. Furthermore (and I'll stick to standard English this time), it's a way of sending a message to the world - a signifier, if you will. For black men/boys, it sends the message that they are down with their brothers livin' the thug's life in or out of prison, for aren't all black men/boys in this country imprisoned in one way or another? For white men/boys, it sends the message that they are down with the black men/boys who are down with their brothers livin' the thug's life in or out of prison, for don't all white men/boys wish they were black men/boys?
Prison, you say? Yes, this particular sartorial gesture - letting one's pants slide down there, so that one is in constant danger of being caught with one's pants down - originated in correctional facilities, where men are not allowed the benefit of belts, lest they hang themselves or others with them. Sometimes, the pants are a few sizes too big, et voilà: saggin', yet another sign of the black man's oppression. Why embrace a sign of one's oppression? I don't know, maybe we should ask Christians why they wear crosses around their necks. The thing is, low-slung jeans began to catch on among gangstas, then started showing up in gangsta-rap videos, and eventually even I was loosening my belt a notch or two. (Never mind the 10 pounds I'd just gained.) You know a fashion trend is over when I finally get around to it.
Actually, it isn't over, in this case, but after years of letting young people show their asses, municipal governments have started to crack down. In Delcambre, La., wearing your jeans below your underwear can result in a fine of $500 and/or a six-month jail sentence, the latter of which would bring the whole saggin' thing full circle. It could also rid the town of plumbers in no time, a fact I'm sure the ACLU will pick up on. For I find it hard to believe these ordinances will be found constitutional if challenged in court. I mean, these guys aren't really showing anything, just pieces of fabric. And this is clearly a form of expression, a fashion statement, not unlike the zoot suits that used to drive people so crazy. Do they think it's attractive? I suspect they do, in the larger meaning of the word "attractive."
Do they have President-elect Barack Obama's approval, one brotha to anotha? Well, not exactly. I saw him being interviewed by some guy from MTV, who asked about these ordinances, and Obama ran down the laundry list of better ways we could be spending our time than monitoring each other's fashion sense. "You tell 'em, boss," I shouted at the screen, glad he saw things my way again. "Having said that," he added, "brothers should pull up their pants." Ouch, that hurt. What the newly elected prez doesn't seem to realize, though, is that continually pulling up your pants is part of the effect. Some guys spend years perfecting that walk.
Only in America.
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