Social Argument and Research Project
August 8th, 2012
Baggy Pants: Criminal Wardrobe or Fashion Statement?
I turned 40 years old in May. I took some time to reminisce with my 12 year old son about times and trends I have witnessed in my life. As always, his curiosity is centered on politics, music and fashion. Our conversation was entertaining as I told him about bell bottoms, Fat Albert, AC/DC, the beginning of hip hop, and finally: the birth of baggy pants (as I remember it anyway).
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
hypothesis 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...