Latest government fad: Dress codes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pull up your pants! I have to wonder how many times I've heard that expression over the years from my parents, my grandmother or anyone older than me. Of course, to me, it would have just been rude to have anyone think I was half-dressed.

So imagine my shock and surprise Thursday morning when I read on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website that the Atlanta City Council is taking the extreme measure of trying to pass an ordinance that would make it illegal for anyone to wear clothing that exposed, pardon this delicate subject, boxer shorts and thongs in any public place in Atlanta. It would fall under Atlanta's indecency law.

The story said the target of the ordinance are the young men who wear their pants low off their hips to show off the two pairs of boxers they wear beneath their saggy pants.

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&uot;Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it’s the in thing,&uot; Atlanta Councilman C.T. Martin

said Wednesday. &uot;I don’t want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future.&uot;

Under the proposed ordinance, women also couldn’t reveal the strap of a thong beneath their pants. Nor could they wear jogging bras in public or show off even a wisp of a bra strap.

Of course the American Civil Liberties Union has already jumped on the proposal as saying it is racial profiling and also creates a dress code for society. Well I guess the ACLU needed something new to do this week.

Yes, there is one segment of the population that practices this way of dressing more than others, but to me it comes down to common decency. It comes down to wanting to take pride in the way you look and wanting people to see you as someone they can rely on.

On Wednesday evening, I had dinner in Montgomery. To get to my friend's Capitol Heights home, I drove down Norman Bridge Road. I passed this one apartment complex and there were seven or eight guys, not all teens, standing on the sidewalk and every of them had their underwear exposed. I just shook my head and drove on.

The reason boxers, thongs, bras and such are called underwear is simple. They are to be worn under your normal clothing. I could not help but look at these young men and think to myself, &#8220Did your momma dress you this morning?” Probably not, because most mothers I know would die of embarrassment if people saw their child seen in public that way.

According to the article, the saggy phenomenon was born in the jail when prisoners had their belts removed for security reasons and their pants drooped. To some it is a supposed to be a sign of reaching manhood once they're back out in the public because it sent the message they've done time.

Again, I bet their mommas are really proud of them.

I don't want to see a dress code created for anyone. If someone tried to pass an ordinance against blue Oxford shirts I would be up in arms yelling about my civil liberties. But the thing about this type of ordinance is that it would mean when you're out in the public, you have to be dressed and walking around showing off your underwear is just not something that should be seen in polite society.

Call me old fashioned, but what separates us from the animals is our ability to dress ourselves and walk around with our underwear covered up. And I don't know who the thugs are trying to impress by dressing this way. Maybe they thing they are acting like macho men because they're showing they might have done some time. Who knows?

For me, it's simple. Pull up your pants and dress like a man!

Jay Thomas is Group Managing Editor for Greenville Newspapers. He can be reached via email at or by call 334.382.3111, ext 136. Read his previous columns at