BlogAre My Saggy Pants Really Hurting You?

November 16, 2012by Frank Love19

It is fascinating to see how quickly (and harshly) some people will condemn others for behaving or even looking a way they consider inappropriate. Judgment and condemnation are, admittedly, effective tools for manipulation. Often, we think up the harshest possible criticisms in order to ensure that our partners, children, friends and loved ones feel bad or shameful enough to do whatever we want them to do. But while this may be a powerful tool for coercion; it is not the behavior of a Powerful Person. You often get far better results by just backing off and letting a person come to his/her own conclusions, in their own time.

A few months ago, a woman who belongs to the same Facebook forum as me asked the group:

Why, why, why do our young men and boys think it’s okay—never mind cool—to walk around with their pants sagging and underwear showing? Whatever happened to self-respect and taking pride in your appearance? It’s even more disturbing because this is a trend that has reached Africa and I remember seeing a young man in Senegal wearing sagging pants. When we told him what it meant, he hiked them up very quickly. And then you have the GROWN men walking around like this? Seriously, what do you all think about this trend and what should be done to counter it? Or should we even care?

I often see young men (and some young ladies) wearing the tops of their pants slightly above their knees. It looks comical. I can’t imagine the discomfort of walking around with one hand holding your belt-line so your pants don’t fall all the way to the ground. The irony is I wore my pants in a similar fashion 20 years ago. They didn’t make it all the way down to my knees, but they certainly were not on my waist either. I guess I could point a finger and say “I didn’t wear mine as low as you wear your’s, so I have more self-respect,” but I prefer to relate to their experience instead of acting separate from it.

And funny enough, I outgrew my sagging-pants all by myself (kind of). I also had what was (and maybe still is) known as a high-top fade. My mother hated it and threatened to kick me out if I didn’t get a different haircut. We battled incessantly about it, but I stood my ground. I did eventually cut it – but it was in my own time. Mom and I both got what we wanted … in the long run.

So, to answer the Facebook question above (“What do you all think about this trend and what should be done to counter it?”) – I say, let’s do nothing. Let’s accept our children as they experiment and work to define themselves as a new generation with its own unique manner of expression (even if their unique trends are recycled). And I seriously doubt that most young people living a life of saggy pants will maintain that style indefinitely. If we sit back and leave the experiment to the experimenters, things will work out … however that may look.

The same can be said of things our mates do that we do not like. They (and we) all have our God-given curiosity and desire to try new things or step outside our comfort zones. And I think it is healthy to explore – whether that means leaving a job when the future seems uncertain, following a risky new career course, buying a sports car or taking up a new hobby. Instead of calling your mate “selfish” or “untrustworthy” when he/she does something you don’t like, consider just accepting the decision for what it is and letting it ride. In time, your mate might come to the same conclusion as you, and at the very least, won’t resent you for the way you dealt with it.

And it may be reciprocal, however you choose to deal with the situation. In the future, you may very well find yourself on the other end of similar accusations of selfishness or whatever. Would you prefer the love or the lash? I suggest, instead of condemnation, try compassion. It’s a great tool to have on hand for your journey towards being a Powerful Person in a Partnership.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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  • Wendy

    January 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Frank, this has brought up all kinds of thoughts for me! And when I see young men wearing their jeans this way with their underwear showing I realise it brings up a variety of feelings, ranging from the distaste of seeing their underpants, to wanting to pull them up (the mother in me, who wants to preserve their child’s modesty) I also guess as I was a child just after the 2nd WW and money was tight, ill fitting clothes was a sign of poverty, and I have a knee jerk reaction to that. I wonder what others think……….



    January 17, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    I’d say you were accurate in not worrying about it however; this fad, tend, sign of rebellion forgets hygiene!

    That fact that these “saggy-pants” sit on seats with their skip marked bvds that others sit on!!

    And when they enter a restaurant, I see it as a health issue!!

    No; there’s no logic, rationale, nor common sense element to exposing your dirty ass to be placed in full public view. Let your hair grow long; boys can even wear earrings; and girls can pierce their noses – but keep you ass covered where I sit!

    And don’t ruin my view of nature and all it has to offer – suburban, rural and city – with putting your ass in my view.


  • John

    January 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    The saggy pants occur in a context and, often, with an attitude. “Bitches and ho’s” attitudes come more often. Identifying with gang-related violence occurs more often. A general callousness and disregard for others affected by violence occurs more with a “saggin'” attitude.
    Is this a guaranteed predictor…No. Then again, does it make sense to do anything to foster such attitudes, No again.
    Current ideas on school uniforms are great. They add equality in some areas in which it is sadly needed.


  • Everett

    January 17, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Bro. Love:

    I respectfully take issue with your advice about leaving alone those (particularly offspring and relatives) who wear their pants saggin’ (Niggas spelled backwards). You wrote,

    So, to answer the Facebook question above (“What do you all think about this trend and what should be done to counter it?”) – I say, let’s do nothing. Let’s accept our children as they experiment and work to define themselves as a new generation with its own unique manner of expression (even if their unique trends are recycled)

    It is undeniable that young brothers wearing this style are disdained and ridiculed by society in general and denied job opportunities because their appearance makes them look slovenly and this style is perceived as offensive to many. Similarly, young women showing thongs worn above hip hugger pants or dresses pulled down so as to show their underwear is also deemed offensive by many. I think it appropriate that those who care about our young people, including their parents and loved ones, should point out these realities to them.


  • Richard

    January 17, 2012 at 3:17 PM



  • Tony

    January 17, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Sadly Frank,

    This is the horrible thinking that the idiots that “embrace” this, 200 years of setting black
    people back fashion trend are hoping for.

    I wonder if the Asian community, are telling their youth, wear your pants Saggy, ,, as Asians are dominating our public school systems, Nationwide, with grades that are off the charts, The Only math we are worried about for our african America you is


    Please Frank, I enjoy your work, but lets nots take the cowards route out of this matter. I know many of these Pants below the ass, ass-holes, are the very worse our society has to offer, but we can not show fear to saying Young man pull your damn pants up !!!!

    As the Asians Design state of the are prisons, Whites prepare to run them, and we of course at 15 and 16 years old are already dressed for the occasion!!!!

    No, lets not let it play out, Whats next,

    Does Murder in your community really bother you, if you not the one being Murdered?
    or how bout
    Lets ignore the Drugs in our community, as long as you not the one on drugs…

    The time is now to say wrong is wrong

    Not to be cowards and say, lets just ignore the Saggy Pants, and it will go away,,,,

    Very Weak !!!!!


  • Michael

    January 17, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Me? No… advertising that you are gay and available (this is where it originated in jails to display willingness and availability) does not bother me in the least. But I have a daughter and there are teens who consider it part of a genre, such as speaking Ebonics, which subjectifies themselves and others around them. It is a bad stigma that goes along with rap, gangs, crime and low IQ’s.

    Plus, it goes along with the idea of “If you think I am going to think poorly because you choose to dress a certain way, don’t get upset when I think poorly of you when you dress that way.”


  • Carroll

    January 17, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    Hmmm. I agree with a lot of what you said–but in all honesty, if I had a teenager (and I don’t) I would not permit the saggy pants. Violent video games would also be verboten–but the reasons for such things would be a subject of discussion and based on mutual respect.

    Imitating gang behavior and participating in vicarious violence are not things I would have raised my children to be likely to do, but I would in no way permit them.


  • Katherine

    January 17, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    No it doesn’t hurt us, but it is truly disgusting, why do they do this to begin with? Is it just to agrivate people who actualy have moral values and consideration for others and self respect? Do they have any self respect? Trying not to be harsh here, I just think it is very rude behavior to expose oneself like this-no one wants to see the dirty undies.


  • Earl

    January 18, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    It is not OK to focus so much on the saggy pant than to try and understand why the saggy pant. You can expect someone to give up something that give them a sense of self or highten their self-esteem without providing a suitable alternative. Also, in this world where most of those who wear saggy pants are young and their are very few avanues to latch on to other viable things that give them a sense of self – like a job –where they can find meaning, it is difficult to place such demands on young people. Another point worth noting is that role modeling plays an important part in the saggy pant trend, so if alternative role models can be provided, then persons might be more likely to wear pants that fit. How many of us engaged/followed in some not so pleasant trends that received the same disdain but yet the committment to that trend did define who we became and are today. To reach young persons and provide them with alternative, we need to meet them where they are. We need to stop focusing on the symptoms or smoke and we need get to the core issues or fire that is driving them to want to express themselves by way of wearing a sagging pants. Current approaches has to be less draconian and more focus on understanding. Only then will the sagging pant begin to fit.

    The person who raised this issue was only half right about the saggy pants beacuse it is not only boys and men who wear saggy pants, but girls and women, too. The question “why? why?… is a good starting point, but it is important to focus on how the why is asked. To asked why in an accusatory fashion will be faced with more resistance than consideration of an alternative.


  • Shandy

    January 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Seeing men in “sagging” pants hurts me because:

    1) I don’t appreciate seeing your exposed briefs; in fact, I find it offensive.

    2) The police officer looking for criminals often cannot differentiate the criminal who is possibly concealing a weapon in his “sagging” pants from the young man who is “sagging” because he just wants to fit in with his peers by wearing what he thinks is “cool or fashionable.”

    3) It is a slap in the face to our ancestors who fought the hard fight to elevate the race to a place where we could drop the burlap bags once used for clothes, not drop our pants and sag!


  • Lance

    January 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I am not sure about the sagging pants issue. I know I do not like it. But that is my personal preference. I try to relate sagging to big collars, and plat form shoes of the 70;s its just not my generation, so I can not relate. My grandfather was a principal in a small east Texas town and he wore a suit 300 days a year it seemed, as a result I wanted to dress a look like him. Now a days grown men want to look like kids from Jay Z to Rick Ross to coaches, and others in the community. Omega is in a position to create a new mandated program to address many issue for young black males and I think we should.


  • Katie

    January 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    On a personal level I often wonder about the public health risks of letting ones rear hang out. On a professional level, I recall this trend from 20 years ago when working in the Juvenile Justice System. At that time, I only saw gang members utilizing this style. I was able to get them to pull up their pants since if they didn’t, I wouldn’t talk with them and then they’d have to stay in their cell. I still see gang members wearing their pants nearly to their knees. Yes, time has evolved this fashion to lowering the pants to the point that I wonder why they even bother with the effort of pants. Except, with the criminal element it’s a great way to hide a gun. It has also evolved into a fashion trend in every city, suburb, and countryside with a teen population. while we want to avoid judging based upon clothing, it is okay to let your kids/employees/ect. know what your viewpoint may be regarding such dress. As a teen, I had a mohawk. When I applied for my first job at our local pharmacy, I was told I would be fired if I ever shaved my head again. My boss respected my individualism, but made it clear I had to present a certain image to his customers who were mostly elderly. Of course, there is always the truth to the fact that once you tell a teen not to do something, that teen is more likely to increase that behavior 10 fold. For some it is merely a phase. For others, it is part of a lifestyle/


  • Dr. Jim

    January 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    On the other end, so to speak, Pants hitched up to one’s belly button – For Men Over 55.



  • Lauren

    January 18, 2012 at 10:12 PM

    Sitting in traffic, I watched a young man running across the street in traffic, holding his pants up (but not very far up… simultaneously holding his pants down), the pants were wrapped beneath his knees. His dreadlocked sway reminded me of women whose feet were bound in China… in seeking possible connection between the two fashion statements I found that according to one chinese legend concubine, Yao Niang, was ordered to bind her feet so that her feet would look like new moons. http://www.angelfire.com/ca/beekeeper/foot.html … its a small world. Possible sexual connotations for both aside, I don’t know enough about either, I do know one fashion statement was sactioned by society…punishing for women of certain social class; the other fashion seems to be chosen, and can clearly lead to unwanted attention and punishment in an environment where profiling exists.

    @Katie I would like to know where the gun would be hidden. I didn’t realize that their was significance in the style, but it makes sense. Is it supposed to “say” I have guns in my pockets?

    On a personal level I admit I feel protective of the men who dress this way outside of the environment where it may be the norm, i feel they will be judged, and placed at risk. Then I get irritated as not many fashion statements do; fortunately counseling-mind sets in quickly and I flashback to a visit to my grandmother in the 70s. My mother packed us with frayed jeans (no hems) and no dresses and no bobby socks. Grandma got her sewing scizzors and cut off our fashionable jean frays. She spent the rest of the week calling relatives in disbelief about our clothing. She thought we looked ridiculous, and I thought it was ridiculous that she cared so much about our clothing (we didn’t), and not about our feelings in this situation. That memory keeps me grounded :).


  • Autumn

    January 18, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Terrific article! All our preaching to young people about acceptance falls on deaf ears if we don’t lead by example….


  • Winifred Kessler

    February 3, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Someone I respect–an African-American mental health practitioner–told me that he had heard from some of the multitudes of young Af-Am men who have been imprisoned, many at very young ages and in the years of testing authority and exploring their own autonomy, that it was a visual protest about the practice in prisons of not allowing belts. Obviously, the practice, whether or not beginning with this protest, is now a widespread challenge to the systemic racism-anti-youth mentality (in any ethnic group) and indifference to youth needs in our schools and all elements of our culture, especially in terms of adolescents (in emotional-psychological development) to cry out against the wrongs in society that they perceive elders in that society as ignoring. practicing or upholding.

    Being “offended” or “puzzled” by seeing their usually pitifully skinny young b____ covered in only material of typical boxer shorts, evades the cry for connection with adult men (and women, black or white or of any ethnicity) who will mentor, model and educate them which is what most if not all of these young men lack. The emotionally intelligent healthy father-responsible adult males in either the black or white communities in our culture are woefully few. Nor do we have enough mother-responsible adult women in matters of the teaching-modeling-mentoring responsibilities of mature adults in any culture. Whether it be instruction or modeling in manners, attitudes, values or whatever, we have been a culture of irresponsible, self-centered rather than community-centered people for too long. Even elephants do better than humans in this respect.

    “All our preaching to young people about acceptance falls on deaf ears if we don’t lead by example..” says Autumn, and I totally agree. It’s the adults in our country (and most others) who need to own up to racism-elitism-sexism (and their offshoots of ageism, opportunism, immorality,etc.,all forms of hypocrisy and shallowness) and change our ways, including inappropriate dress, offensive or lacking “manners,” with respect to one another as well as to youth. “Parents and Grand-parents for More Civilized Behavior”or some variant on that theme might be a good discussion to start on this thread.


  • Lynda Crooms

    February 6, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Whether these teens or young men like it or not, going against a social norm brings with it condemnation. That is how order is kept in society. Times change and attitudes change and therefore norms change as well. However in this instance, they can forget norming the rest of us being okay with looking at their behinds. As a society we have already determined we do not wnat to see people’s undwear in public.

    Culterally this manner of dress is a cast off from men in prison advertising their willingness to do sexual favors for other men. So these teens and young men need to be edcuated and know that this is the the assumption that is being made about them. The other assumptions are that they are thugs. It is what it is. And if they insist on dressing this way they will need to be able to handle the assumptions that are going to come their way.

    I am personally offended and disgusted when a young man enters my presence with his butt hanging out. I’m a lady and expect a certain amount of respect from men in my presence. I guess you can call me “old school.”

    I hope and pray that this fad dies off soon as it is old and tired.


  • Stephanie A. Hilliard

    February 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    As someone who has been a mother-responsible adult woman and mentored to any number of young people in my own home, along with my highly responsible husband, I’m afraid that overall I have to agree with Lynda. What they are doing when they wear their pants that way is identifying with the lowest level of their own societal group. That is not the way to gain respect as a group, or as individuals.

    I fully agree with Winifred that young people are disrespected, and that is an attitude that needs to change in society. Many of the issues that I’ve seen my kids, especially my boys, struggling with came about in part from feeling disregarded and disrespected. However, they are not going to give people a reason to respect them when they opt for a mode of dress that at best makes them appear sloppy and at worst makes them appear too stupid to dress themselves.

    If they want to be respected, then choose something that adds value to society based on their own unique perspective, passion and energy. When they do, it is an amazing thing, and it can change the world.

    Hanging your butt out of your pants does not meet the criteria for value added and society has no reason to accept that as a valid norm.


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