Sagging (in response to the Oct. 29 Tracy Press, “Below-the-belt fad still high fashion among teens”) is a fashion trend that has gone past the boundaries of decency.
When is something too much? It’s when you expose your underwear to the public when you’re bending over to pick something up. Or when you’re showing too much skin.
It’s not just the guys, but the girls, too.
I can understand that teenagers all want to express their own style. I used to change out of the polyester shirt and slacks that my mom wanted me to wear after she’d gone to work, so I could wear my T-shirt and jeans. She caught me once and was upset, but she relaxed her standards after that, as she understood I didn’t want to stick out like a sore-thumb-nerdy-dork in polyester.
Today’s clothing crosses the lines, though. Whether the guys are sagging at home is irrelevant, as the clothing is so baggy that all they have to do is pull up their pants until they get to school. They try to disguise it with baggy shirts, and shorts (only sometimes) under the pants, but it’s still the same idea.
It’s mainly defiance to say, “What are you going to do about it? Huh?”
I’ve had plenty of experience as a substitute teacher of questioning how closely the high schools stick to the dress code. Guys are sagging, usually with boxers or briefs showing whenever they sit or bend or if their shirts don’t hang low enough. And girls are wearing lingerie camisoles with all their glory showing when they hunch over their desk to write.
Do they know the power they are exhibiting with this display of skin? Do they really want the unwelcome advances that might come along with it?
It’s about time that schools start enforcing dress codes and update them to include a ban on revealing undergarments.
I have a girlfriend whose daughter is always asking me for my “sub stories,” as she puts them, and I have plenty of dress code tales to tell her.
One day there was a girl in hip huggers (which are supposedly against dress code), who’d decided to bend over and hug her friends, and she had cleavage of the plumber’s variety showing. Another day, that same girl was in one of my classes, and when she was done with her assignment, she proceeded to turn around in the desk, sitting backward astride the chair. I nearly laughed as the size-tag on her underwear was standing up, but it didn’t cover nearly enough real estate.
And with the guys, most times I get the eye-rolling as they pull their pants up at my request. But I’ve also had one boy who sneered at me and proceeded to act as if he was yanking his pants up two times before I offered to send him to the counseling office.
This is not to even mention the hats, beanies and hoodies. Even when the room is warm, the guys will try to keep them on, as it’s their cool “trademark” look.
But removing them is a sign of respect and citizenship. You can have your attitude and coolness of hats out in the elements, but it’s not needed inside.
Unfortunately, sometimes this bad behavior is rewarded in schools by teachers who just throw up their hands and say, “What can you do?”
When that happens, the students can take the power of bullying to a new level for the next time. Or they get mixed messages of what’s acceptable.
Teenagers haven’t changed, as they’ve always challenged the system. It’s the administration that needs to stand up and say: The defiance stops here.
• Deborah Littleton is a substitute teacher, stay-at-home mom and Tracy arts commissioner. She’s lived in Tracy for 13 years.