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Freedom to Sag This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     When I was around seven years old, I began to realize that I lived in a bad neighborhood and that I was not like my friends. The main differences between us were the brands of clothes we wore and how we wore them. My friends wore FuBu, Jordans, Tommy Hilfiger, and Starter jackets while my clothes were from Wal-Mart. Also, while their clothes were loose and baggy, mine were tight and confining.

Now while I couldn’t buy the brands my peers wore, I could wear my clothes the way they did. So, with my courage up, I walked around with sagging Levis and the laces out of my Mickey Mouse light-up sneakers. I thought, So far so good, as I walked down the sidewalk exclaiming “West side” - my geography and hip-hop knowledge not quite in consensus.

Then, to make this awkward moment worse, my 70-year-old godmother appeared and lectured me in the perils of being a “gangster, gang-banger, thug and/or hoodlum.” I was then spanked (beaten, actually) and told never to embarrass her by sagging again, which was probably good because tight sagging Levis are not a good look.

Since then I’ve found my place in hip-hop, identifying more with conscience or “backpack” rap than gangster rap, and I no longer try to sag although I do buy my pants baggy simply because tight Levis aren’t a good look either.

So when a neighboring town passed a “no sag” ordinance, I did not agree with it, but I also did not immediately feel directly affected either. I remembered my godmother’s reaction to my sagging and understood the ordinance as old folks responding adversely to youth. It made me think of the angry mob that chased Johnny in “Rebel Without a Cause.” They were on a witch hunt against all things non-traditional. But then I thought about it from a Constitutional point of view. This ordinance would give the police free rein to search whomever they choose, with no probable cause; after all, it’s up to the officer to decide what is sagging. Also this extreme form of censorship must be in violation of our First Amendment rights.

Case in point, it’s completely legal for the Ku Klux Klan to gather and march down the main street of any American city. Often the police escort them in order to protect their First Amendment rights. Now let me ask you a question: In what bizarre world is sagging more offensive than the Klan?

I live in a part of the country where the rebel flag is sometimes displayed proudly on government buildings, pickup trucks, and T-shirts, all of which is offensive, but it seems that my complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

Maybe I’m simply overreacting. After all, our nation wouldn’t be the first to institute a dress code or sweeping restrictions based on the opinions or pet peeves of the few. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist Cuba, Red China, Soviet Russia, and modern-day Iraq have all had similar laws. Also, it’s not like there’s a single problem in America bigger than sagging pants because we’ve achieved world peace, won the war on drugs, ended government corruption, solved poverty, created a fair and infallible judicial system, and mended race relations forever.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe sagging is a pressing issue on everyone’s mind, maybe this ordinance isn’t racially motivated, and maybe I really do look like every robbery suspect since ’97. In closing, censorship is great, and that is all I am allowed to say.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 15 comments. Post your own!

Artgirl1999 said...
Feb. 9, 2013 at 11:46 am:
Well, I think everyone should have the freedom to dress how they like, but that doesn't mean that I like 'sagging'. When I see a guy in super baggy(or super tight) pants, I shudder. It's just not attractive to me.
 
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AaronLawrence said...
Dec. 24, 2010 at 11:23 am:
I totally hear you, I sag but just cause its comfortable and everyone in my neighborhood does.  I think if people have a problem with sagging, they should have more of a problem with biker shorts. 
 
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lizzymwrites said...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm:
Wonderful ending!!! =D
 
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toxic.monkey said...
Jul. 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm:
you are completely straight to the point but not boring. i think it's a good opinion piece with style- goooood job :)
 
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Artst123 said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm:
Yeah, I think that this is an awesome article too. I personally think that there are more important things to make laws about. At my school, some of the guys wear shorts so low that they look like skirts, and you can see their boxers. Any lower, and there shorts would fall off!
 
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Bethani said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm:
At my high school there is a fine if sagging pants show underwear or a butt. I think you can sag but don't show off your butt or underwear please. Good article! I love it!
 
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AllayAlaneLarlly said...
Jun. 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm:
I'm fine with it as long as they have their pants pulled up enough not to show their underwear or butt. That's just plain nasty.
 
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Lanna8o9 said...
Apr. 26, 2010 at 4:27 pm:
Haha well I have to say I do not enjoy staring at someone's underpants hanging out of their sagging pants, but I will admit that they have the right to do what they want with what they wear.
 
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Charity H. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 8:46 pm:
geez... i agree.
putting out a law against something as simple as sagging?? give people freedom to display their fashion!
this kind of reminds me of Ray Bradbury's book Farenhiet 451... is that really how we're going to end up??
I.N.S.A.N.I.T.Y.
 
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Sunshineyday said...
Aug. 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm:
I personally don't like seeing someones undies sticking out of their pants, but it isn't different than seeing a woman with a low cut top.
We cannot make laws based on the views of overly sensitive people. People do alot of things I don't like, but if it doesn't HURT me or anyone else, who cares? you are right, we have bigger fish to fry
 
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ballanbrad said...
Jan. 21, 2009 at 8:55 pm:
yeah im in the hood and i can sagg
 
niya pooh replied...
Oct. 14, 2009 at 9:35 am :
rite do wat u want
 
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piecesoflight said...
Jan. 21, 2009 at 5:30 pm:
Yeah, when you think about it, if the KKK can walk down the street, why can't we sag? I also live in a part of the country where the Rebel flag is shown >.> Although I imagine Shreveport is a lot worse than Dallas, haha.
 
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teenreader said...
Dec. 5, 2008 at 1:16 am:
haha....:)
your own grandma beat u becuz of sagging? :O

anyways great writing thingy
 
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peaceandlove said...
Oct. 28, 2008 at 1:11 am:
an amazing essay. makes me think. i like it.
 
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