Ever see some hip-hop dickhead walking around the mall with his ass hanging out? Well, I started that fashion trend years ago!
My pants sag. I can’t help it; it’s the way I’m built. I’ve got a round belly and a flat butt and it’s a constant struggle to keep my pants up around my waist.
One of my most traumatic grade-school memories is sitting on the floor of the gym during a school assembly and hearing giggles and titters from the rows of students behind me. I tried to ignore it until someone tapped me on the shoulder.
“Hey, man, everybody can see your butt crack and they’re laughing three rows back,” he said.
Blushing deep red, I wiggled and squirmed until my pants were back in place. But a few minutes later they had drooped back down again. It was a very long assembly.
I’ve had this “sagging pants issue” since childhood. Belts help, but they are by no means foolproof. They just give me something substantial to grab onto when I’m hoisting my pants back up. A former girlfriend used to call me “Deputy Droopy Drawers.” Cute.
The Awkward Years … Every Year
But then, as I transitioned from a teenager to a twenty-something, I was suddenly “fashion forward.” It’s believed that the baggy pants craze started in prisons, where inmates aren’t given belts (to prevent hangings and beatings) and, as a result, their pants sag. But by the late 80s, the trend had made it to gangster rap videos, then went on to skateboarders in the suburbs and high school hallways. Soon the droopy pants look became a part of everyday fashion for kids a decade or so younger than me. I was a fashion pioneer, baby!
But now I’m bordering on being a criminal. Several communities have recently passed laws banning saggy pants. In one Louisiana town, wearing pants low enough to show your underwear or bare buttocks will get you a $500 fine or up to six months in jail. In Trenton, New Jersey, Councilwoman Annette Lartigue is also drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. Under Lartigue’s proposed law, wearing drooping pants will not only get you fined, you’ll also have to answer questions from a city official about your employment and educational status.
“The message is clear,” Councilwoman Lartigue explains. “We don’t want to see your backside.”
Trust me, Ms. Lartigue, you don’t. But what can I do? My belly…my butt…!
ACLU To The Rescue!
Fortunately the American Civil Liberties Union is on my side. When a baggy pants ban was recently enacted in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACLU stepped in with a cry of racial profiling.
“This ban is going to target African-American male youths,” says Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “There’s a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed.”
So what if I’m not black (and hardly a youth) – I will not be discriminated against just because I’m a misshapen male who can’t seem to keep his pants up! I will stand alongside my baggy-pants brethren (lots of plumbers and carpenters, in addition to all the hip gangster wannabes). We shall overcome!
Now, if I could just find a way to stop stepping on the hem of my pants…
Originally published in Wayne TODAY, September 2007.