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SAGGING BUG, CRIMINAL SUSPECT'S STYLE, BITES YOUNGSTERS

By NBF News
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Walking along the road these days you find some people's pants peeping out under or in the middle of their butt, and you see the wearer pulling up his trousers up repeatedly because they might drop as he walks. To ensure they don't drop totally, he walks in a perfected slow dip.

As he walks you can see the designs and name brand of his underwear and sometimes where the elastic band on his boxers or boxer briefs are tucked over his shirt. If one does not really know what is happening, you would think that the fellow has problems with his trouser or legs by the way he walks, but it is not. It is simply a new trend in fashion called 'sagging'.

The term 'sagging' actually refers to the practice of wearing trousers below the waist, in a manner that it reveals some part of the person's underwear. In various parts of the world, this fashion is also referred to as 'low-riding'. Though it started as a male fashion trend, females were not able to resist it, and soon the trend flared among the youth. Although it has become popular today, wearing sagging trousers was not a fashion trend, nor was it introduced as one.

Although there are quite a few versions of how sagging was introduced to the fashion scene, sagging can be traced to American prison inmates who wore loose fitting prison uniforms without a belt. Belts were popular weapons used by inmates in prison, either to commit suicide or murder others by hanging or strangling.

In such circumstances, people with oversized uniforms were left with no option but to let their trousers hang loose below their waist. Eventually, the inmates became so used to this, that the trend continued with them even after the inmates were freed.

The trend of sagging got a major boost as a style statement when rappers started wearing them in 1990s. This made the style popular among hip-hop fans who fancied following their idols on stage and in music videos. Soon enough, sagging became one the most popular fashion trends among the youth.

Though it seems unlikely that any kind of prison garb could lead to a fashion trend, sagging has proven to be an exception. According to Mrs. Elsie Oluku, the chief responsibility officer for Treasure Cove Nigeria Ltd, operators of many fashion outlets in Nigeria, some people just follow trend without knowing the implication. 'It is bad enough that young people are sagging. You would even find older people sagging too. People don't know the origin of sagging. It is for prisoners. They give them uniforms randomly because there are no specific size arrangements for the sewing. They oversize wears drop from their waist as they wear them to an extent that they have to hold them while they walk. Sagging pants was never meant to be fashionable'. To her, when you sag, you are competing with prisoners.

But there is an even more obvious reason why pants are sag in prison. It is said to be a way to display homosexuality there. If the pants are below a man's bottom and exposes his buttocks, it is to let others know that he is sexually available.

With time, the notorious practice of wearing sagging pants became so prominent, that several authorities had to come up with laws and resolutions to curb its increasing popularity.

In America several administrative bodies made a law making sagging a criminal offense, which could possibly result in penalty or jail term for the offenders.

New York State Senator, Eric Adams had a big problem with the so-called fashion statement. Over the months past, he drew national headlines by unveiling the 'Stop Sagging' campaign, a series of billboards and web videos that decry the hip-hop fashion trend of wearing trousers below the waist. Although Adams is the most visible opponent of sagging, he is far from alone. In the US, sagging fashion birthplace, states and politicians have taken the anti-sagging movement to the next level by passing laws that criminalize the trend.

Over the past two decades, sagging pants have emerged as one of the most infamous fashion trends, not just in the United States, but in many other parts of the world as well. But in Nigeria, the new style won't be more than ten years old and seems to be at its peak today. Everyday, it is trend to be assaulted by indecently dressed male and female 'saggers'. While the boys expose dirty boxers and pants with all manner of waistband marks, ladies expose their bare buttocks with the cleavage disgustingly displayed to public glare, especially those in jean trousers. The odd visual entertainment is sagging ladies displaying all manner of absurdly coloured inner pants and g-strings, especially on commercial bikes (okada) or when they bend over.

It is common sight to observe them once in a while making efforts to pull up the trouser without success, although 'it is just to attract attention and not actually to cover the eyesore', a respondent disclosed.

However, the world seems to be divided into two groups – people for sagging pants and people against sagging pants. For those individuals who are for sagging pants, it is all about the comfort level, while those against it believe it is just a public display of indecency.

'It is a fad that is very nauseating', says Emeka Anokwuru, an elder in the church. 'What is supposed to be for private audience is now publicly shown to the people without remorse. In the days gone people respected their private parts. It was exclusive for private use. For me, it is not a proper way to dress. You can dress neatly without revealing anything. I don't know what the people that sag want to achieve. They can as well go naked. It is not healthy at all.'

While Anokwuru believes that colours and patterns of your underwear should be kept private, an SS1 student, Mike Metu argues that fashion is supposed to be an expression of what we think and how we feel through what we wear.

Mrs. Rose Obaji, a housewife refers to the trend as shameful. 'It is shameful and quite unpleasant. Girls who do this are seen as sluts. They should not be surprised when the man next to them asks, 'how much?'

Anne Bassey, a youth corps member proposes that women must stop going out with or providing sex to men who dress distastefully. 'When these young men realize how unattractive their style is, they will stop dressing that way.'

Mr. Rapahel Okoro is a father of four. He expressed how bad he feels each time he sees one in sagging trouser. 'I'm so tired of seeing these fools who sag their pants, especially the idiots who have their jeans down to their knees and then use a belt to keep them in place. I just want to smack these children and tell them to pull their trousers. I can't imagine that sagging is at all comfortable. If you don't expect anybody to take you seriously, go on and sag. I have warned my children not to try that kind of fashion style.'

Joan Okoro, an undergraduate of Imo State University says: 'It is absolutely disgusting and I don't see the point in this. It is not fashionable. It makes you look like one that doesn't know how to dress. They supposedly think it's cool when it's really low class. I remember back then showing your underwear was embarrassing now it's all fine and stylish. I hate the new trend and it needs to stop because it is so low class. It is very annoying when they wear a belt on the sagging trouser. What is the point of a belt when you are sagging. Belts are supposed to keep trousers up.' She advised those who complain that their trouser are too small to get a new pair.

'The most irritating thing is that some people don't even wear neat underwear when they sag', says Mrs. Chioma Igbokwa, a journalist. If one should sag at all, it is someone on the big side because it fits them better than slim people.'

For Bambo Oluwole, a civil servant, it's a horrific, ridiculous trend. 'People who dress like this are automatically labelled as thugs and drug dealers. They are not respected in most countries. Why on earth would you want to portray that kind of an image? They can't walk properly and are constantly grabbing at their asses and crotches to pull their trousers up. I hate it.'

As a teenager, John Nwandu, a secondary school leaver, doesn't mind a slight sagging, even though he still dislikes the trend.

So, if one may ask why do the young people 'sag'? Though it originated from the prison indeed, but people sag for different reasons. Respondents gave Saturday Sun several reasons they think sagging has caught on with the younger people. Some of those who sag, usually do so because they think that it is fashionable.

To some, it is a fashion statement, so they don't mind how ridiculous they look. Again, a lot of teens and young people do it just to imitate others. 'The prevailing culture among young people today is if their idols wear it, they should wear it too. A lot of artistes (particularly rappers) dress in this manner. Their fans think it looks good on their idol, so it follows that it will look good on them. So, the main reason why people sag is to imitate their movie/musical idols or other celebrities.'

'Other people do it so as not to appear outdated. Among teens, acceptance into a group is important. Oftentimes one gets to join a group by dressing in certain ways.

For other people, they just want to go along with what is popular. Some get satisfaction from wearing the latest clothes or following the latest trends. In this regard, they are following a fad. These individuals will stop doing it the moment a new fashion style emerges.'

'It is a fashion in vogue and it is for the youth too. It is common among university students. With sagging, you can express other colours and wear two or three different types of clothes. Sagging is a double decker dressing. It is commonly worn with jeans. It is a real fashion for the jet age', says Tolulope Ajayi, a 22-year-old student.

Another reason people sag is to make themselves look trendy or formidable. There are some theories that the style originated in prison. Whether that's true or not, the fact is some gangs dress up in this way. For young folks, dressing in this manner makes them look very tough. It gives the individual a feeling of being in line with the craze of the moment', another student said.

Others say that they dress this way because they just want to. It becomes a way of defining their individuality. Regardless of what others may think, the clothes become their way of expressing themselves. These individuals do it not to follow any trend. It's something these men and women just enjoy doing.

Why you think of the sense in sagging, take your time to observe the next trend of ladies dressing with their bra straps out and in colour contrast with the dress. That another terrible way to dress just to catch attention.