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It is known for being a fashion that originated in prison. Some think its cool while others believe it’s indecent. What is this nationwide debate? The phenomenon is known as “baggy pants.”
Some school systems and localities have policies against the showing of underwear, but no state has successfully passed a law or ordinance against “baggy pants”.
That’s not from the lack of trying.
In 2005 Delegate Algie Howell introduced House Bill 1981 in order to deal with “baggy pants” in Virginia. The bill failed in committee. In Atlanta, there is a “Saggin’ Pants Task Force” that is currently in place. The city council has not decided what it should do.
Some believe that this is a much-needed law while others say that it’s a personal expression and law shouldn’t mandate it.
Wearing his pants low has become a way of life for James Baker. He’s been in and out of the prison system since the age of 16 and explains that—despite rap and hop-hop artists who may have made it popular—this fashion originated in prison because inmates are not given belts.
“I’m going to wear my clothes the way I want to wear my clothes because they’re my clothes,” said Baker.
He said he would tell an officer questioning his ‘saggin pants,’—”You can take that somewhere else.”
But, the second time Baker was imprisoned he learned a valuable lesson. He was told by an older inmate that the lower you wear your pants, you are signaling your availability to the other inmates.
He thanked the man, but still believes the style should be freely warn in the streets.
Not everyone agrees with Baker.
Dwaine Caraway, deputy mayor pro tem of Dallas, is one who believes that young and old men alike need to pull up there pants.
“There is a need for greater self respect for themselves [baggy pants wearers]... and society,” Caraway says.
Caraway explained that in the Dallas and Forth worth Metroplex area they did not seek to pass a law but took a different approach.
“We decided to create a PR Campaign instead of trying to pass a law,” he said.
He was referring to the numerous billboards that are currently in and around the Dallas and Fort Worth Metroplex area depicting different images encouraging young men to ‘pull em up.’
He explained that these billboards show guys displaying there underwear and a grandmother telling them to pull them up.
“Next month we’ll be doing a different campaign,” Caraway explained.
He said that they try to constantly change to keep it interesting.
Caraway even received the support of some who are in the rap community.
Dewayne Brown a rapper also known as Dooney Da’ Priest, is part of the campaign urging young people to improve their appearance.
Dooney created a song telling those young men to stop the saggin’ and appropriately entitled the piece, “Pull Your Pants Up”.
Along with the song, the rapper can also be seen on a billboard in that area pointing his finger with the backdrop of the city behind him.
In reference to the law being passed, Caraway explains that he believes that other cities and states alike should follow suit after the Dallas and Forts worth Metroplex area and organize a PR Campaign rather than try to pursue a law.
He doesn’t believe that this should be a legal issue but rather a moral one pertaining to indecent exposure.
Maryland Resident, DeVon Baker feels strongly that the way people wear their clothing is a First Amendment right. Therefore he opposes laws against it. He said, “I feel that it is so wrong. It’s freedom of expression. If you can’t express yourself then what can you do.”
The 27 year old explains that sometimes it feels more comfortable for him to wear his pants low. He explained, “My pants sag down some because my belt messes with my hip sometimes.”
Either morally or otherwise, DeVon doesn’t understand why his fashion should be of anyone’s concern.
“Why should someone care how you wear your pants?” He continues, “I would tell them [spectators] to mind there business and stop looking at my underwear.”