By Stephen Vance
A 17-year-old male walks down the street, with his pants three inches below his waistline. He sags because he thinks it’s cool, and he gets to express how he feels. Sagging is a general statement, in which an individual expresses who they are.
More often than not, sagging is associated with the sex, drugs, money, and violence of hip hop culture. More likely than not, in underserved communities, hip hop figures are the closest to role models. These figures come from and talk about life experiences in inner-city communities. As a result, youths are able to relate more to them, giving hip hop a huge influence over their lives.
Like, “What They See Is What They’ll Be,” sagging is a way youths emulate their hip hop idols. They believe if their favorite idol Lil Wayne sags, then they too should sag.
Some people sag because it’s fashionable and popular. They wear what’s “in,” so they aren’t excluded from popular social functions. Keeping up with the latest fashion trends has become deeply rooted in school.
In other cases, people will sag their pants to give the impression that they are cool. It gives them a sense of individuality. A guy might wear red skinny jeans and sag a little below the waist, which looks different than sagging with baggy jeans. This guy wants to be different.
Some people even sag to look tough. Since sagging originated in the prison system, those who want to look tough use sagging as a badge of honor. Street credit is given to those who have been locked up in prison, which can explain why sagging reflects this experience.
In order to address sagging, we have to decide whether to object to the practice of sagging or the culture that promotes it. Take it from Anthony D’ Angelo, the author of Chicken Soup for the College Soul, “When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.”
Sagging is just wearing pants below the waistline; so why is there a problem with sagging? It’s not that people view sagging as public indecency and simply express their discontent at the sight of someone’s underwear. In fact, no one has a problem with the sight of people in their bikinis and shorts at a beach or swimming pool.
The problem with sagging is that it is associated with the violence and sexism of hip hop culture. Whatever the reason for which a person chooses to sag, more often than not, that person is viewed as a thug because of its symbolism.
Imagine Kanye West wearing more suits, promoting the business world, while ridiculing the failures that come with thug culture. This would then allow youths to adopt a more culturally appropriate and less dangerous fashion. And it would be cool, because Kanye is doing it. If we could change how hip hop influences youth, we could solve the “issue” of sagging.