It came to my attention a few weeks ago (and yikes, it’s been nearly two months!) that the town of Pikeville Tennessee passed an ordinance fining young men who wear their jeans very low sung, typically below their glutes, thereby exposing their boxer shorts.
This intrigued me as I had seen two kids—it’s hard to call them young men—thusly attired on the bus a few days before I saw the story. I’ve usually written off this style, which is hard to call a trend since the rap duo Kriss Kross sported the look in 1992, as just youths trying to piss off their elders. But when I saw the kids on the bus, I was struck by another angle. If they are trying to assert their bodies, this is an absolutely miserable way to do it. Lowering jeans to reveal something baggy below is the equivalent of pulling back a curtain to reveal another curtain perhaps with another curtain visible behind that one. It’s essentially phony and dishonest and rather than revealing—which is best done as a defiant gesture of self-celebration (at least that’s how I read a lot of the style choices of Rihanna, Beyonce and especially Jennifer Lopez). Instead it’s just another example of male insecurity expressed in clothing.
Seriously, if a guy wanted to escape the institutionalized grip of male insecurity in fashion, then he’ll have to take a real risk, jeggings or running shorts/tights for instance. L’il Wayne and Conan have tried the former, and probably about a third of the men who marathon and even more who bike avidly are into the latter. The first part of the risk is about stealing something from the feminine wardrobe but men have done that with earrings, purses (I call mine a messenger bag but still), and other accessories without the walls of Jericho tumbling down. I think most guys perceive the bigger risk in letting the world know that they’re no porn star. Guess what fellas, the world knows. It’s my observation from five decades on this planet that a well hung guy walks differently than one of shall we say average endowment. It’s for good reason, the well hung cat knows he can get away with stuff from straight women and gay men that he ought not be able to get away with; he’s the winner of some sort of gene pool lottery.
Anyway, smooth and sleek and physique baring is a much stronger fashion statement than baggy and ironic (that’s the most optimistic read I can give to showing that you’re wearing baggy underwear with cartoon characters on them as was the case with the kids on the bus). It’s also a powerful way of saying that you don’t share the insecurities that many men share.
I’m reasonably sure no municipality would pass laws banning that look.