For one day, at least, nobody at Plantation High School in South Florida was sagging.
Inspired by a November MTV News interview with then-candidate Barack Obama , in which he counseled, “brothers should pull up their pants,” when asked about ordinances banning saggy pants, the school celebrated “Pull Up Your Pants Day” on Thursday, and by all accounts it was a big success.
“We just finished a faculty meeting and a teacher came up to us and said, ‘Ms. Carter, the atmosphere was so positive, the kids were on their best behavior, there were no incidents, no one got out of line with all this media being here,’ ” ninth-grade reading teacher Diana Carter, one of the teachers behind the sag-free event, told MTV News on Friday morning (March 27).
A local Wal-Mart supplied 200 free belts to distribute to students whose pants didn’t meet the school’s dress code, which mandates that underwear should not be showing. Carter said 85 were handed out on Thursday. “That’s why they call it underwear!” she said.
Dr. Brougher Bass, an assistant principal at the school, said he thought the event went exceedingly well, and while a few of the boys took a tongue-in-cheek attitude to the day, some of the young women at the school turned in their friends and suggested candidates for the free belts. The day also featured mentors from the community in the hallways who pulled aside students in need of a hitch, and who also spoke at a forum later in the day to continue the conversation about why appearance matters.
“It’s not any more rampant in our school than any other,” said Dr. Bass of the saggy look. “And it’s not a white or a black issue, either. It’s a generational issue.”
In addition to screening the footage of the MTV interview, Carter said that leading up to the event students in her classroom read a July 2008 column by Judge Greg Mathis, “The Sad Truth About Saggin’ Pants,” in which the TV adjudicator explained that the trend was inspired by the jailhouse practice of taking prisoner’s belts away to avoid them being used as weapons or in suicide attempts.
“He laid it on the line,” Carter said of Mathis. “If your pants are saggin’ and you want to adopt a jailhouse mentality, that will show in your attitude toward everything. We’re not trying to take their individuality away, but there’s a time and a place for everything. If you want your pants saggin’ when you’re kicking it at the beach with your friends, that’s fine, but this is a place of business.”
Another one of the ninth-grade reading teachers behind the event, Dona Mckenzie, said students told her they look forward to another anti-sag day and that some have suggested it be repeated every Friday at the school. There’s also a plan in the works to possibly give students extra credit if they maintain an appropriate sag-free look.
“If president-elect Obama felt that strongly about it, we should get that across to young men … that you have to be aware of how you are dressing and how people perceive you,” she said. “First impressions are important, and we want the kids to remember what Ms. Carter said the other day: We’re dressing them for success in their future endeavors. They need to know that they can’t apply for a job with their underwear on display.”