Charita Goshay: What's the crime in saggy pants?
Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself taken when you were a teen or in your 20s ... and cringed at what you were wearing?
Seemed cool at the moment, didn’t it?
Somewhere, there’s a landfill clogged with Nehru jackets, headbands, Superfly fedoras and skinny ties. That’s because, thankfully, bad fashion rarely survives the passage of time.
Some communities are considering laws to punish people for the primarily black, hip-hop fad of excessively saggy jeans; among them, Trenton, N.J., and Atlanta.
Now, it’s hard to believe that Trenton, of all places, doesn’t have more pressing problems, such as unemployed young black men who wouldn’t be allowed to wear saggy jeans on a job if they had one. In a nation that values free expression, no matter how ludicrous, such ordinances are a court case waiting to happen.
Crimes of fashion
Most of us over 30 can agree that droopy jeans are offensive, mostly because they simply look ridiculous. If you have to hold onto an article of clothing while wearing it, really, what’s the point? Some should just come with a red rubber nose and a seltzer bottle. Plus, constantly having to hitch up your pants just seems like an awful lot of work. But then, so was walking down a flight of stairs in platform shoes in 1973.
Because fashion is self-expression, the problem with saggy jeans is, the look was adopted from prison inmates, who aren’t permitted to wear belts.
And you want to look like a convict because ...
But criminalizing poor taste isn’t the way to go, either. If so, I should have gotten the firing squad for my stars-and-stripes bell-bottoms with the matching newsboy cap.
Kids have always lived to provoke their elders, be it through music, clothes, tongue-piercings, even hair. The same men who gave up the ghost on ducktails and crewcuts two seconds after the Beatles played on “The Ed Sullivan Show” now grouse because their grandsons won’t get a haircut. The Afro that looked so cool on you in 1968 now seems kind of, well, crazy on the kid in the car next to you.
I take perverse comfort in knowing that, 10 years from now, saggy-jeans wearers will be embarrassed they ever slid them on.
Little boys lost
Given that young black males are an endangered species, perhaps saggy jeans are an unconscious desire to remain a little boy for as long as possible. When you’re part of a demographic whose No. 1 cause of death is homicide, why be in a hurry to grow up?
Still, the last time I checked, being a fashion victim wasn’t a crime. For many young men, being a crime victim is the problem. The Trenton City Council is considering fining people as much as $100 for saggy jeans. But Trenton is the nation’s 14th most-dangerous city, with a 10.2 percent unemployment rate.
They need more than “Sag Police.”
Granted, the saggy-jeans fad seems to have a more-stubborn shelf life than say, toe-socks or rainbow suspenders, but just like zoot suits, hot pants and poodle skirts, this too shall pass.
Charita Goshay write for The Repository in Canton, Ohio.