South Carolina Wants To Ban Baggy Pants, Bill Would Fine Offenders Up To $75

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A proposed bill in South Carolina would ban saggy pants — that is, the trend, usually employed by teenage boys and young men, of wearing their pants with the waistlines well beneath their derrieres. As WLTX-TV reports, repeat offenders could be fined up to $75 and be given community service.

Lawmakers Jimmy Bales (D-Richland), Richard Martin (R-Newberry), and Russell Ott (D-Calhoun) are joined by a handful of co-sponsors in attempting to pass House Bill 4957, which would ban anyone from exposing their skin or underwear “three inches below the crest of the ileum,” the ileum being the top of your hips.

Violators would be fined $25 for their first offense (enough, as WLTX writer Amanda Hurley wryly notes, to buy a belt); $50 for a second offense; and $75 and community service for a third offense. However, convictions wouldn’t give the scofflaws criminal records, and would not put financial aid for college at risk the way other criminal convictions would.

Co-sponsor Wendell Gilliard tells WTVD-TV (Raleigh-Durham) that men wearing their pants so low that their butts are exposed is indecent.

“If a female was to go around in the same fashion, pants down by their ankles or below the waist, we would see that as indecent exposure.”

South Carolina’s state legislature is not the first governing body to come up with the idea of banning saggy pants. In fact, several municipalities have passed such bans, including Louisiana’s Iberville Parish, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. That particular law sought to fine offenders $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second, and $100 plus 16 hours of community service for the third offense.

Unfortunately for governments who would try to ban saggy pants, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be eager to fight such a ban all the way. In the wake of the proposed Iberville ban, the organization wrote a letter to the Parish, urging them to reconsider.

“This Ordinance would inevitably raise questions about racial profiling or disproportionate enforcement.’ Saggy pants’ is a clothing style typically associated with young African-American males.”

In fact, as Business Library wrote in 2007, the trend of “sagging” is, in fact, a fashion staple among some African American teenage boys and young men, although it has spread to men of other races as well. The origins of the trend are unclear, but one popular theory is that it’s a reference to the realities of prison, where clothes are often ill-fitting and belts are prohibited, forcing inmates to wear pants that sag well below their waists.