Chicago alderman has a problem with saggy pants

May 30, 2012 (CHICAGO)

The saggy pants phenomenon can be traced back to jails and prisons, where a ban on belts can make it hard to keep your pants in place.

The look was popularized in music videos in the 1990s, and since then, politicians from Evanston to Lynwood and now Chicago have tried to legislate fashion. One alderman says she has seen enough.

"Nobody wants to see your underwear, nobody," said 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts.

Mitts won unanimous support for the resolution she called "No Dragging and Sagging: Pull Up Your Pants."

"It's one of those issues that needs to be said more so than regulated, because if no one ever says anything somebody thinks it's okay," Mitts said, "That's not okay."

Mitts says people who insist on wearing their pants so low their underwear hangs out represent a distraction in the classroom and a drain on respect out in the neighborhood.

Some school workers agree.

"They cause a problem for me because I don't like looking at a student's underwear," said lunchroom manager Charlotte True.

Out of Chicago's 675 public schools, only 88 do not require students to wear uniforms.

"I've seen kids with uniforms still sagging," said teacher's aide Nichelle Smith.

"When you look at school codes and uniforms, ultimately for me, that belongs to the local school councils," said Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. "I'm not on to push a system-wide mandate."

An important note: Alderman Mitts' won committee support for her "resolution." It is not an ordinance, so for now, she is not suggesting baggy pants be outlawed.

Mitts hopes this will start a conversation in schools, the community and at home.

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