"Pull up your pants boy! Nobody wants to see that!" Teenagers across the county hear these words every day. Thanks to the "fashion" trend known as sagging. Parents hate it, teens do it, and small battles rage between them daily over the issue.
Sagging is wearing your pants below or around the buttocks. The underwear is then pulled up slightly so it can be seen. A belt may or may not be worn in order to keep the pants at a certain level. Most teenagers do it because it is comfortable or their friends or favorite music group is doing it, without knowing where it came from and the history behind it.
Some say that sagging got its start in prison as a way to signal to other inmates that they were "available" for a relationship. However, according to my research this is false.
While sagging did start in prison, it resulted from the fact that many of the clothes given to the inmates were too big. Belts weren’t allowed because of the potential for suicide attempts when the inmates had them. The style was then adopted by some rap stars and the hip-hop industry, then migrated to other music genres and has since become fad for teens of all ethnicities. (Young rap duo Kris Kross are often credited with popularizing sagging. See photo above.)
So why do teens (mainly male) sag? Is it purely to spite their parents and other authority figures? Julian, 16, and Alex, 16, sag for different reasons.
"It’s more comfortable than wearing them [the pants] high up around the waist," says Alex. "If you wear your pants high, you look nerdy," says Julian.
When asked what they thought girls thought about guys who sag and how it looks, they both say that they believe girls don’t mind it, and may actually prefer it.
On the contrary. Heather, 16, says sagging looks unprofessional, dirty and unattractive, adding that she doesn’t need to see any guy’s boxers. Margaret, 17, agrees, calling it was gross and unattractive. She also says it’s annoying to see a guy constantly pulling up his pants.
Parents seem to dislike this trend even more than these girls do. Alex says his parents constantly tell him to pull his pants up. My parents even threaten to punish me or take away luxury items. My mom is convinced that the only reason teens wear their pants that way is to anger their parents.
"I understand that this style is a fashion statement of a certain music genre (i.e. Hip-hop/Rap)," says William Hintz, principal at Menomonee Falls High School. "However, this style has no place in traditional places such as school and work. We are trying to make young people see that wearing clothes in this fashion is unnecessary. After high school, this style is unacceptable at every work place."
The issue has even landed in statehouses. In February 2005, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would impose a $50 fine on anyone wearing pants so low that underwear was visible. Louisiana lawmakers attempted to pass a similar law a year earlier. Both bills were rejected by their states’ Senates.
Ultimately, sagging appears to be the semi-rebellious fashion statement of this generation’s culture, much like teens having long hair or wearing mini-skirts in the '60s and '70s. Their parents didn’t like it and didn’t understand it, just like parents these days don’t like or understand sagging.