Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Saggy Jeans Debate

Some American counties are outlawing those oversized saggy jeans, often worn bellow the buttocks with the underwear on display.
A style popularized in the early 1990s by hip-hop artists, are becoming a criminal offense in a growing number of communities, specially in the racially dived American South. Starting in Louisiana, an intensifying push by lawmakers has decided that pants worn low enough to expose underwear poses a threat to the public, and they have enacted indecency ordinances to stop it. Behind the indecency laws may be the real issue - the hip-hop style itself, which critics say is worn as a badge of delinquency, with its distinctive walk conveying thuggish swagger and a disrespect for authority. Also at work are the larger issue of freedom of expression and the questions raised when fashion moves from being merely objectionable to illegal.
Sagging began in American prisons, where oversized uniforms were issued without belts to prevent suicide and the use of belts as weapons. The style spread by way of rappers and music videos, from the ghetto to the suburbs and around the world.
According to Andrew Bolton, the curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, fashions tend to be decried when they "challenge the conservative morality of a society." Like past fashion bans, the prohibitions on sagging are seen by some as racially motivated because the wearers are young, predominantly African-American men.
Personally, I deeply dislike the whole look but I am strongly opposed to any type of censorship at the same time. When I was younger dressing-up was an insintric part of who I was. This "personal statement" was what I stood for and what I didn't want to be associated with, at least in the mind of an young man. The idea of a court ordinance prohibiting my fashion choices seems too dictatorial and old-hat. If politicians can decide what you can or cannot wear, where will it stop?
I see the image below as "threatening to society" as saggy jeans. Where are the ordinances against that?

1 comment:

Aretha said...

That's so funny...My brother wears that style