Pants On the Ground in Birmingham

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Among the many opinions former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford used to share, one was a strong disapproval of low slung, saggy pants. Now another Larry, General Larry Platt of Atlanta’s American Idol auditions, is enjoying his own 15 minutes of fame thanks to his catchy rebuke, ”Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground…”

I get that youth culture is always going to have to distinguish itself from that of its elders. I understand that looking cool is important, and  one way to do that is to wear clothing that implies a loose and carefree attitude. But I have never understood wearing pants with the waistband below your rear end. Does no one fear their pants could just fall down and expose their bare behind? Maybe there’s no shame nowadays in having your underwear show, but your rear end? Really?

It’s not only a hip-hop look, its also been adopted by skater types as well. For all the loose, big jeans that sag around there are also super skinny ones that are worn low along with shaggy hair, a cap and some plaid.

I truly try to understand the appeal of the low-slung pants. Shorter steps? (wouldn’t it feel more powerful to be able to take long strides?) Is it a way to camouflage true proportions? A secret wish for the air circulation afforded by a skirt? From a purely practical perspective, it seems like big hassle.

Of course, now we know that our own Larry was in no position to be giving opinions on sartorial matters, since his own fancy pants – not to mention his shirt collection – seem to have been the undoing of his political career. 

As Simon Cowell gloomily predicted, “Pants on the Ground” is becoming a viral hit and is now being chanted by kids on the school bus. Maybe a few of them will decide to wear their belts above their behinds.