Pull Your Pants Up: The Evolution of Sagging Pants

Sagging pants has become an iconic staple in modern hip hop and fashion. In today’s culture, if you are not wearing you pants below your waist, you are wearing them wrong. It is normal for adults or the older generation to dislike the current fashion trends, however there have been many legislative movements to ban sagging pants. The councilwoman Mary Sue Rich, from Ocala, Fla., was tired of seeing the young people in her town wearing their pants low and sagging, and successfully pushed to prohibit the style on city-owned property. It became law in July. Violators face a $500 fine or up to six months in jail.

Where did sagging pants come from and why did it become so popular?

The most common myth to sagging pants is that it was a sign in prison culture that you are homosexual and your body is available. This explanation does hold some logic. If your pants are sitting below 10 inches below your waist, you are exposing your butt. I cant claim this is entirely true, as I have never been to prison nor am I an expert at prison myths. This myth may hold some truth to it, but there are other factual standpoints that could explain sagging pants.

Like many staples of hip hop culture, sagging pants originated in prison. The reason why inmates had sagging pants is because they were not allowed to own belts. Obviously belts can be used as weapons that could harm other inmates or even themselves. As a result, inmates that are issued ill-fitting clothing will have their pants sit below the waist.

Sagging is also an unintended consequence of living below the poverty line. It’s a fact that boys go through a lot of growth changes in their teenage years. It’s highly probable that a young man can sprout a few inches in a summer. You can’t expect a mother living below the poverty line to buy their son a new pair of jeans every few months to match their growth. Mothers would often buy pants a few sizes larger to increase the longevity of the pants and relieve themselves of the financial burden of buying new clothes. In this same situation, belts can be seen as a luxury as opposed to a necessity. Thus leading a young boy on the streets finding himself with pants that rest on his butt cheeks.

Prison life and the rough life on the streets both important to hip hop culture. Today we can find boys of all ages, economic backgrounds, and colors sagging their pants. Sources:

https://adifferentstateofblack.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-sagging-pants-myth-needs-to-stop/ http://halloftheblackdragon.com/reel/pull-up-yo-britches-the-not-so-straight-history-of-sagging/ http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/09/11/347143588/sagging-pants-and-the-long-history-of-dangerous-street-fashion

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