Off The Cuff - Baggy Pants Syndrome
August 23, 2007
It is just absolutely amazing to me how the youth in these United States carry on in nonconformist ways, and how much those ways just bug the bejesus out of the old folks. I'm not saying I'm not affected, because I am.
Remember way back in the early 60s when long hair became the vogue? For the boys, anyway. I remember one of my esteemed classmates would absolutely not cut his hair for some function at the high school, during our graduation exercises. Today, he's pretty clean cut, as are most of us. I also recall sitting in a barber's chair in Arlington, VA, one afternoon in the early 70s, listening to the barber prattle on and on about those long-haired freaks outside his shop window. Something to the effect they were ruining his business by not getting their locks shorn. He still had a pretty good business, though, as he was still open.
After Woodstock and a few other raves of the time, the long hair and art-deco clothing came to be a norm of sorts for the younger generations, and for some who thought they were young. Timothy Leary comes to mind. Of course, if said generations wanted to get in on the ground floor at a job and advance anywhere but the janitor's position, they had to "clean up their act", fly straight and true, get haircuts, buy conformist clothing, speak English that is heard in the business world. I remember after I got out of the Navy in 1974, I got one haircut in 15 months. My hair was so curly it was ridiculous, and my mother let me get away with it. Doing the funeral thing.
My head was also ridiculously hot, as the curliness didn't let the air flow. When I reenlisted in 1975, you can imagine how the barber at NAS Millington felt when I presented him the opportunity to work his wonders. When I told him how strange yet refreshing the breeze felt to me on my right ear, he held a mirror before me. Dang, wish I had gotten a pic of that one - cut on one side, bushy on the other. I've never let my hair get that long since. Beard is another story, though.
In the 90s, I remember the language fiasco. Ebonics it was called. I think I read it stemmed from the Gullah people in the lowlands of South Carolina and Georgia, whose language is a broad mixture of Jamaican Creole, Bahamian Dialect, and the Krio language of Sierra Leone of West Africa. I'm sure there's a smattering of English in there, too. And, of course, the slave languages, as well. Even the city of Oakland, CA, announced ebonics was allowed in the primary schools, as it was an "accepted" language of the gangsta culture there. I can't remember how long that lasted, but not long. The entire country was wondering what the hell possessed the school officials there to condone such language. At least as I understand it all.
In the early 21st Century the clothing styles started to change. Lots of Gothic attire was being worn by the grrls, and even some of the boys in primary schools. Lots of black: makeup, clothes, shoes, dyed hair, anything offbeat it seemed was popular. Even in the summertime here in Texas, Goth is still the hot ticket. Then came the boys' rebellion of baggy pants.
At first the baggy pants syndrome, BPS as I call it, was limited to the big cities, the sprawling metropolises. Ack! Not any more. A couple of days ago, while I was sitting here at the puter, I saw a head float by my window. Got up, went outside, and a kid was walking back out the front gate. I asked him if he was looking for something. He was chasing his dog. The dog was under the porch at the moment. But the dog was just doing doggy things, like sniffing and peeing, chasing cats, anything but minding his master.
Master. Hmph! This child was dressed thusly: Shirtless, sneakers, over-the-knee denim shorts, and about 6" of his underwear. As he wandered back in the yard, I told him that if he came through that gate again, he'd best have his pants pulled up. Otherwise, the dog could stay as long as it wanted. I think I skeered him a little, as he looked at me at first, then started hitching those pants up. He got his dog and left the premises. That's all I said to him in the brief encounter.
Yesterday afternoon while I was walking in front of my property, picking up litter, the BPS child was out on the street again with his dog. Cute dog, too. Terrier. And he had returned to his BPS. Haha! He was steady hitching them up again, though. And he again came on the property to retrieve said terrier, but I don't recall seeing any underwear. Thankfully.
While I blame the kid for his idealisms, I blame the parents even more. Seems that some parents really don't give a hoot nor a holler about how their kids act, dress, or communicate as long as they don't get into deep doo-doo for it. Do the parents dress like this, act like this, communicate like this? I'd say the majority does not. I've known kids who are not rich, in fact who are downright poor who act, dress, and communicate with the rest of the world as we older folks do, with respect, with confidence, with meaning. I'm no psychologist nor psychiatrist, but I think I do know what is socially acceptable in a "normal" society, and what is not.
Why am I writing this? I saw a news item with the following lead-in: Atlanta Considers Banning Baggy Pants - Associated Press - Aug 23 09:39 AM US/Eastern. The story goes on to say
Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws.
It goes on about how little kids see the BPS and want to emulate it. I personally think if the parents would get inside the heads of their own children, the time and effort of city councils would not be wasted on such trivialities, by passing laws and enforcing such laws as this. There are far more important things to be dealt with on a daily basis than BPS.
However, the purveyors of BPS obviously have lower self-esteems than the rest of the crowd, and one way to get the attention they are missing at home is to dress the dress, walk the walk, act the act. It's really too bad that the carefree attitude of the parents has allowed such moral depravity as BPS and its consequences.
Put them in some sort of boot camp, please? Teach them right from wrong, left from right, up from down, in from out. Build their confidences, build their self-esteems, build on their conforming-to-society skills rather than their screw-the-man idealisms.
Parents and/or caregivers need to step up to the plate, put their feet on solid ground, do what is right, at home.
Moving along a little ways in the same story is this:
The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
So, of course the ACLU has gotten in on the act, not unexpected. I wonder, though, if Ms. Seagraves lets her own bra strap or thong show? She goes on:
Seagraves said any legislation that creates a dress code would not survive a court challenge. She said the law could not be enforced in a nondiscriminatory way because it targets something that came out of the black youth culture.
"This is a racial profiling bill that promotes and establishes a framework for an additional type of racial profiling," Seagraves said.
How insane! This is just like the argument there are more blacks than whites in prison. Why? Because the blacks get caught easier, I suppose. But I'm not going there, other than to say I wonder how many white folks will step up to the prison gates and volunteer to be incarcerated to even out the balance.
Makeda Johnson, an Atlanta mother of a 14-year-old girl, said she is glad (city councilman) Martin introduced the proposal. She does not want to see a law against clothing, but said she thinks teenagers are sending a message with a way of dressing that is based in jailhouse behavior.
Well, that statement carries hope. To me, anyway. Perhaps not all is lost, eh?