As college students, most are vulnerable to fall into the grips of mainstream culture. We fall victim to ridiculous fashions and fads, often forgetting how senseless they are until it is too late.
The infamous jheri curl hairstyle of the 1980’s and early 1990’s is a prime example of a loony trend people wish they could forget. Hopefully, such will be the case for sagging pants, a fad that goes beyond being fashionable, to just being flat out distasteful.
Sagging is believed to have originated in one of three places. One theory says it originated during slavery, when slave masters would rape their male slaves. The slaves would then be required to wear their pants below their buttocks so that they could be readily identified for future sexual advances.
This theory may or may not be true according to some accounts, however, the irony and relevance in this instance is uncanny.
The second theory is that sagging began in prison, where inmates were not allowed to wear belts for safety reasons. Some inmates who sagged their pants were said to be doing so as sign of sexual availability. “Those who pulled their pants down the lowest and showed their behind a little more raw, that was an invitation. (The youth) don’t know this part about it,” said Judge Greg Mathis of the court show Judge Mathis, in a 2007 interview with Jet magazine.
This theory is also ironic because rap music, an art form that has been slammed in the past for being homoerotic, has played an important role in promoting such tomfoolery.
The third theory on the origins of sagging goes back just a little more than 20 years.
“Before clothing companies like Sean John and Rocawear were not around to cater to black men, designers made jeans with waistlines that were often too narrow for black men.
As a result, black male consumers were forced to buy clothes that were two to three sizes larger than they were and a subsequent style was born,” said Todd Boyd, a professor at the University of Southern California in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. This theory may have had some credibility before black clothing lines emerged. However, today fitted clothes are more commonplace in main stream culture than the baggy, urban style once was.
There are places where sagging and other fashion faux pas’ are being combatted. Take Flint, Mich., for example. In 2008, the city made sagging a criminal offense. A similar ban was put in place in Mansfield, La. In 2009, Morehouse College enforced a strict dress code, making sagging and other would-be vulgar fashions a serious violation of school conduct codes. Similar dress code enforcements were enacted at Hampton University, and Bennett College.
Those who sag probably do not realize that they are slaves to bad fashion. These victims are so easily persuaded and pressed to fit in, they would intentionally expose a body part in an effort to be fashionable. The sagging trend is everywhere in popular culture, but nowhere is it more prevalent than among black males- a group with some the highest unemployment rates.
This trend that has such a stranglehold on black men is nothing more than a form of self-perpetuating stereotypes. How can we expect to move foward when we are slowed down by drooping pants?
It may be time for Florida A&M to enforce a dress code. In keeping with President Ammons’ vision for the university, a measure should be in place to ensure that the the young men on this campus are not caught with their “pants on the ground.”