Selma Town Council member William Overby thought it was time for some people in town to tighten their belts. He proposed banning sagging pants.
“You see people walking down the street, pulling up their pants,” he said.
But this week, Overby and other council members decided not to pursue a ban in their Johnston County town. The town attorney thought it might be unconstitutional. Other towns have had as much difficulty upholding such bans as some of the offenders were having upholding their pants.
And then, as Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver noted, there are technical issues. “Where is a person’s waist?” she said. “We don’t want to get into it.”
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Still, it was a noble thought to try do something about a street fashion whose origins are said to trace back to the saggy pants of prisoners who are not allowed belts. Hip-hop artists picked up on it, and underwear became outerwear.
It’s not just local governments that haven’t been able to stop the sagging. The fashion has even defied a presidential order.
Shortly after his election in 2008, Barack Obama said on MTV that local laws against saggy pants are “a waste of time.” But he added, “Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them.”
In Selma, saggy pants will stay legal, but the president on down to town councilman Overby still consider it a fashion offense.