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I grew up during the heights or depths of the sagging craze. Goose bubble jacket, even in blistering summer heat. That outfit was almost always complimented with sagging jeans, because even the most stoic rapper needed ventilation, I guess.

That was the ’90s, an era when bigger was better. Oversized shirts, giant overalls, heck, jeans makers specifically designed sizes like “baggy” and “loose.” I owned a few of those jeans. But like 99 cent gas and Hi C Ecto Cooler, I thought that style was buried in the 20th century.

Hence my surprise when I realized that sagging somehow slid into the new millennium. Earlier this summer in Talladega, the city council considered banning saggy pants and just last week, Dadeville council members weighed a similar ordinance against sagging.

There’s a war on our waistlines and, honestly, it seems pretty unnecessary.

I’ll be honest, although I went through my baggy clothing phase as many of us did in the ’90s I never personally sagged. Even pre teen Edward realized that wearing your waistband below your cheeks was kinda counterproductive.

Seriously, watching my friends hold their drooping pants with a death grip while waddling around just seemed like too much work.

It was just a choice I wasn’t willing to make.

And that’s what these proposed laws forget silly fashion or not, sagging is still a choice, one that might not be appealing but isn’t inherently illegal. While cities like Atlanta, Moultrie, Ga., Terrebonne Parish La., and Collinsville Ill., have banned public sagging, others like Miami,
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Ocean City, NJ and Stratford, Conn., have backed away from proposals that seemed to veer too closely to violating First Amendment rights.

The First Amendment does protect “expressive conduct” after all, going so far to protect abominations like Klansman robes. But there’s still a gray area: Those robes are tied to the Klan’s divisive, disgusting message, which is definitely protected. In the case of sagging, however, there’s no real message tied to it it’s simply a trend. Legally, things get murky. Enacting laws that enviably will be challenged and bog down our legal system is an unnecessary waste of court time.

Besides, where do we draw the line? Are shirtless men in tiny runners shorts indecent? What about girls whose skirts rise above arms length fingertips?

How about grown men in skinny jeans? Cuz those definitely offend me. But here’s what we too often forget: Offensive shouldn’t necessarily mean illegal.

Instead of forcing our lawmakers to parent misguided young men, wouldn’t it make more sense for our families and communities to handle that responsibility? Loving guidance is much more effective than fines and jail time.

In The Anniston Star, Paul Johnson, who supported the ban, said “I want to teach my granddaughter what’s right . It’s my duty to look out for (my granddaughter), to raise her up right. You get out of kids what you put in.”

While I disagree with Johnson on the ban, we could learn a lot from his mindset. He’s personally teaching his granddaughter life lessons. Similarly, it should be our communities not lawmakers who teach young men that sagging often comes with a crippling stigma. It’s not just unsightly, it’s a detrimental symbol of our culture one that has (often unfairly) characterized young men, especially African American men, with laziness, crime, ignorance and incarceration.
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