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When it comes to wearing your pants, no one should tell you how low you can go.
So said high school students on Wednesday as they bashed state Sen. Eric Adams’s “Stop the Sag” campaign — the Fort Greene Democrat’s attempt to get local kids to hitch up their drawers.
“I think what we wear is our opinion,” said 16-year-old Jemel Wilson, a student at George Westinghouse HS, as he adjusted his low-hanging jeans outside the Fulton Mall. “People shouldn’t tell us what to wear.”
Fellow student Kiara Dowdye, 16, added that, given his position in power, Adams should actually be supporting the youths’ free speech.
“People have the right to wear whatever they want,” she said.
But Adams sees something more dire in the annoying fashion trend: Wearing your pants so low could one day “morally bankrupt society” he said.
That’s why he thought up the billboards, which started appearing in Fort Greene, Crown Heights and East Flatbush this week. These “public service announcements” depict two youths with their pants hanging off their thighs, showing off the boxers. On the side will read phrases like “Stop the sag,” “You’re better than this” and “Raise your pants, raise your image.”
Adams said he put up $2,000 from his campaign coffers to pay for the billboards with the non-profit group Fully Persuaded for Children and Families. He hopes these messages will put a dent in this underwear-flashing “epidemic” that was inspired by clothing trends in state prisons, picked up by hip-hop artists in the early 1990s, and each year seem to drop lower and lower.
“You can’t lead if you can’t walk straight — and you can’t walk straight with your pants down around your feet,” said Adams. “If our youth can’t navigate a belt loop, then they won’t be able to navigate the complexities of American Express and corporate America.”
In addition to the billboard campaign, Adams has sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein asking him to introduce a dress code “that prohibits saggy pants attire.”
Some kids learned the lesson without help from Albany.
Jose Lopez said he used to wear his pants low as a youth, but the 33-year-old said he grew out of it. As a result, he thought Adams shouldn’t get his pants in a bunch.
“It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a style,” Lopez said, adding that he resented the placement of the billboards in minority neighborhoods. “They should put them up everywhere. In Bensonhurst, the kids are doing the same thing.”
— with Stephen Witt
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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