NEW YORK: A state senator in New York has launched a campaign against a crack epidemic of the low-pants kind – telling young people: ”When you raise your pants, you raise how you feel about yourself.”
Brooklyn residents awoke to the sight of two ”Stop the Sag” billboards showing two men in jeans low enough to display their underwear.
The billboards were paid for by Senator Eric Adams, who also made an online video to send his message: ”You can raise your level of respect if you raise your pants.”
Senator Adams is the latest in a series of public figures to lambaste the slack-slacks style popular in some circles since the 1990s and amplified by rappers.
The dropped-trousers trend has been debated in TV shows, city councils, school boards, state legislatures and courtrooms, and even decried in song.
Bill Cosby caused a stir by blasting baggy pants at a civil rights group’s event in 2004. The President, Barack Obama, as a candidate, came out against low-slung trousers in 2008.
”Brothers should pull up their pants,” he said. ”Some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them,” Mr Obama told MTV News.
Dallas officials embarked on a Pull Your Pants Up billboard campaign in 2007. Some schools have tightened dress codes to get students to tighten their belts.
Senator Adams decided he had enough after spotting a subway passenger in a particularly low-riding pair of pants.
”Everyone was looking at him and shaking their heads. And no one said anything,” he said.
So Senator Adams, a black former police captain, tapped his campaign coffers for $US2000 ($2175) to put up the billboards.
The low-slung trousers trend is adapted from the unbelted and sometimes oversized look of prison uniforms, says Mark-Evan Blackman, who heads the menswear department at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
Senator Adams says he does not aim to legislate, just educate.
”I don’t want to criminalise young people being young people,” he said. ”I’m trying to make sure we stand up and correct the behaviour.”