For some, sagging pants carry greater meaning - IMDiversity (2023)

New Haven Register

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Sag is swag if you ask some young people.

For Trevor Smith, saggin’ pants are merely a fashion statement.

Others, however, worry that it perpetuates racial stereotypes, may have roots as a gay male signal and could lead to health complications based on the way it can force wearers to walk.

But Smith, 18, a student at Gateway Community College, said, “It’s just fashion for us. Everyone has a different look at it and some people don’t know how to go with the changing times.”

“We know the meaning of the pants saggin’ years ago; it’s changing now,” he said. “We don’t focus on what it meant back in the day or the negative, we wear it as part of our swag or expression.”

Opinions vary on the origin of the sagging pants movement.

Some contend that it sprang up because belts were not allowed in prison _ to prevent self-harm, while some believe blacks who were enslaved were denied belts for fear they would aid in escape.

“The saggin’ started in the prison where inmates couldn’t wear belts, but in jail culture things started to transcend,” said community activist Leonard Jahad, the state’s top New Haven probation supervisor,

“The left pant leg rolled up meant you’re in a certain gang and both pant legs rolled up meant something else,” Jahad said. “When pants are down like the kids wear on the streets, in prison, it means you are available to the next man for sexual activity.”

Smith, who’s also entertainment director of the youth development organization Ice the Beef, said he and his peers don’t view the sagging pants as a sexual signal, or anything more than a style choice.

“We’re not saggin’ our pants to be disrespectful. Nobody says anything when people wear short jean skirts; no one cares,” he said. “It’s no different when our mothers and grandmothers wear the big hats to church. It’s fashion for them and the sag is our fashion.”

Smith acknowledged that some of his peers who wear sagging pants go to the extreme.

“Some of us do take it to the max, but it’s not like it’s to the ankles,” Smith said.

“It’s part of black culture now, but whites and Puerto Ricans wear the sag, too,” he said.

Several white male youth who wear their pants sagging were interviewed for the story. All declined be identified.

However, they agreed it’s purely a fashion expression and a way to be connected to their black peers.

Jason Jacobs, 15, who has been wearing the sagging style since he was 9, said he wore it for the wrong reasons.

“When I first started doing it, I did it so I could stuff things into my pants, now it’s a trend everyone does,” Jason said.

“I don’t do it all the time like I use to; it was a big with me at one point,” he said. “I’m trying to stop the sag, because I want to be different now.”

Jason said black youth started the trend and believes “white boys have picked up on it to be like us.”

City resident Ronald Huggins, 22, who does not agree with the sagging fashion, said he believes the black community is the hub for style and fashion for other ethnic groups.

“We’re the brainchild for a lot of things and if we only realized the influence and the amount of power we have to produce positive things, we’d be setting records all over the world,” said Huggins, a Southern Connecticut State University graduate who aspires to be mayor of New Haven.

“If we can just get ourselves together, we can affect the nation and generations to come,” he said.

The fashion has created a way of life for some who identify with the hip-hop community.

New Haven hip-hop and graffiti artist Dooley-O Jackson said hip-hop introduced the style to mainstream society because youth had no other options to express themselves.

“(Some) adults wear suits and kids wore tight shorts, so hip-hop broke the standard rules of dressing,” said Jackson, 44, who started rapping in the late 1980s.

Differentiating rap music from hip-hop culture, Jackson said, “Rap never had its own fashion, its always been hip-hop.

“Pants hanging off your bottom is something that came from jail,” he said. “When hip hop at its worst had no new swag, except jailhouse rock clothing, the youth adopted it.”

According to, in the early 1970s the musical genre was born in the crime-ridden neighborhoods of the South Bronx.

Fashion statement or not, some towns across the country have decided sag is not swag. In New Jersey, two towns have passed ordinances banning sagging pants, and other towns have considered or adopted similar measures.

Penns Grove and Wildwood are issuing fines of $25 on first offense.

On further offenses, fines could climb to $1,000, as well as potential community service hours.

But state Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, said creating a law on the issue is a waste of time.

“No one in the House or Senate has raised the issue. Different cities in the state talked about it last year, but nothing came from it,” said Holder-Winfield.

“Personally, I think it’s a sloppy fashion and adds to the negative perception of black youth; it needs to be done away with.” he said.

Jahad said from a law enforcement perspective, he sees it as similar to the broken window theory _ which posits that addressing issues such as vandalism in neighborhoods helps address larger issues.

“It’s like a quality-of-life crime, it’s seen as if your pants are down, you’re not motivated, you don’t have a job and don’t care about yourself,” Jahad said.

“This is a community accountability issue, but when we can’t police ourselves, law enforcement steps in,” he said.

Jahad believes race does play a factor when it comes to law enforcement stereotypes.

“Skateboarders and hipsters wear their pants saggy, but they’re not seen as anti-establishment,” he said. “For our kids, law enforcement is looking at it like it’s criminal.”

Zebra Hip Hop Sportswear owner Yaser Elhilo said the trend is changing.

“Young people from the age of 15-29 are now looking for fit and slim jeans,” said Elhilo, whose store is located at 344 Whalley Ave.

“It’s the over-30 group that are looking for the loose saggy jeans for a more comfortable feel,” said Elhilo, whose customers are mainly Latino and black.

In terms of fit, some in the health field say structural and biomechanical modifications that bring the sag can cause nerve damage and alter the wearer’s gait.

“Its altering balance and altering the way you load your weight; it’s never straight-legged,” said Eileen M. Denny, of Denny Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Hamden.

“When pants sag, you’re rotating the legs inward at the knees and turning feet outward to keep balance, which create poor posture,” said Denny, whose office is located at 2842 Old Dixwell Ave.

Denny said long-term effects can include knee alignment and foot issues.

“Anytime you improperly load your spine or lower back, you run a greater risk of arthritis,” said Denny. “When weight is put on the front of the thigh, pain will go down the thigh causing pressure on the nerves.”

Among other factors that surround the culture of sagging pants is what the word saggin’ spells in reverse.

Smith said he is aware of the word in reverse, but it is no longer a negative in his vocabulary. If used in acronym form, the word now means “Now I’m Getting Goals Accomplished…,” Smith said.

“People fought for the word to be removed and it’s not going anywhere, so why not take it from a negative into a positive,” he said.

Although the word has pejorative connotation, Smith said in 2014 it’s not often used as an insult.

“Nobody uses it to insult people anymore, and the people that do are ignorant,” he said.

Further, Quinnipiac Associate Professor of Journalism Richard Hanley said political operatives use certain other words instead of directly pejorative words.

“I don’t know if (saggin’ in reverse is) an accident of vocabulary or something that holds meaning, but I don’t think young black men understand the word in reverse,” Hanley said.

Hanley said when politicians use words in a pejorative sense, they know what they’re alluding to.

Some racial code words include welfare, food stamps, inner-city and crime.

“They signal something, maybe not a direct racist attitude, but they summon racist feelings,” he said. “The polls show that; that’s why it’s used as a political instrument, especially when it was unacceptable to use the n-word.”

Smith said adults may not like the fashion but “I’m sure they had their style and fashion when they were young, too.”

Related Posts

  • Idealist Invites People To Start 2015 On A Brighter Note
  • When and How I Chose Graduate Studies
  • Historic academic partnership unveiled by HBCU, Barnes Foundation
  • Latin Trade Group Announces Debut of New Website
  • Unorganized Black Hawk savors its independence


What is the meaning of no sagging? ›

A sealant formulation having a consistency that will permit application in vertical joints without appreciable sagging or slumping. This performance characteristic allows the sealant to be installed in a sloped or vertical joint application without appreciable sagging or slumping.

How do I keep my sagging pants from falling down? ›

Hitching up your pants before sitting down to prevent overstretching them with your knees is helpful, but if you're likely to forget, try wearing a belt with your jeans instead. Belts help to keep your pants up and maintain their form over your body.

What was the meaning of sagging? ›

The style was popularized by hip-hop musicians in the 1990s. It is often claimed the style originated from the United States prison system where belts are sometimes prohibited and there can be a lack of appropriately sized clothing. As a result, their pants would sag.

Why do my jeans sag in the back? ›

Most "stretch denim" is a combination of cotton and spandex, versus traditional denim, which is 100 percent cotton. And that spandex--while curve-hugging in the beginning--loses its elasticity over time, causing that awful sag right below your derrière.

What does it mean to have a sagging spirit? ›

If someone tells you you have a sagging spirit, that means your life-force seems to be missing. Spirit comes from the Latin word for "breath," and like breath, spirit is considered a fundamental part of being alive.

What is the reason for sagging? ›

Causes of Sagging Breasts

Hormone changes, pregnancy, weight gain, and weight loss can all affect the internal structures of your breasts.

Why do I constantly have to pull my jeans up? ›

The most common culprits for falling jeans are the fit, fabric, and style. If you have the inclination to choose low-rise jeans that sit low on the hips, you may find yourself constantly pulling your denim jeans up.

Should I wear my pants over my belly? ›

Now, before you start copping grandpa pants that sit above your belly button, don't. But, as a general rule, jeans should sit on the hips, while chinos and suit pants should land just above the hip, which will allow you to tuck in your shirt without worrying about it popping out mid-meeting.

What does sagging mean in beauty? ›

Sagging skin refers to the loose skin that has little to no definition due to a loss of fat and a reduction in collagen and elastin proteins. . Sagging skin can appear for various reasons, and in different places, however, it is most commonly found on the neck, stomach, jawline, upper arms and thighs.

What is the sagging moment? ›

A bending moment that produces concave bending at midspan of a simply supported beam, generally termed a positive bending moment. It is the opposite of a negative or hogging moment, which would occur at the supports.

What is the example of saggy? ›

Something rigid had become something saggy. Perhaps in those saggy old pants. And the saggy skin makes me sore, so medically it needs to be removed. I was left with horrible scarring and saggy skin on my previously perfect tummy.

How do you flatten your lower stomach in jeans? ›

In terms of hiding belly fat, high-waisted jeans could become your new best friend. Simply put, high-rise jeans help you hide belly fat by covering and smoothing the area. Wide Leg: In response to the skinny jeans phenomenon, wide-leg styles have become more popular as a way to offer something different.

Where should jeans sit on waist? ›

The ideal jeans should fit your waist in a way that you are still able to stick two fingers in it. That leaves you some room to sit or move, but anything more than that would be unnecessary.

Where should jeans sit on ankle? ›

Short jeans are typically about an inch or two above the ankle, while regular jeans hit at or just below the ankle. Long jeans come down to the top of the foot or even slightly longer. The key is to find a pair that hits the right spot on your leg. If they're too short, they'll look awkward and unfinished.

What does sagging mean in skin care? ›

Sagging skin is loose skin that appears to hold no definition due to the lack of muscle underneath. Sagging skin is commonly found on the jawline, upper arms, stomach and thighs. Collagen and Elastin are the primary factors that ensure that your skin is firm.

Can sagging breast be firm again? ›

Can Sagging Breasts Be Firm Again? Sagging breast tissue cannot regain its youthful firmness without plastic surgery. Unfortunately, measures such as exercising your chest muscles, eating healthy, and applying topical creams are not enough to correct pronounced sagging and drooping.

What is the term that means sagging breast? ›

Breast ptosis is the medical term for drooping breast tissue. The most important thing to know is that it's completely natural to experience some degree of sagging as your breasts change over time.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated: 10/16/2023

Views: 6050

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.