Last week my son Jeff and I were in Walmart. Have you ever seen any of those People of Walmart slide shows posted on the Internet? Jef and I saw the live version. There was a young man in the men's department, bent over looking for the right size t-shirt on a low shelf. He should have been looking on a higher shelf, where they keep the large shirts, not down low where they keep the small shirts. Usually larger shirts mean longer shirts. This kid definitely needed a longer shirt. We could see half of his underwear. I nudged Jeff and gave a nod toward the show. Jeff immediately started walking faster to get away from me. I think he was afraid I was going to tell the kid to pull his pants up. Actually, I've seen worse. Fortunately, it seems like the trend to expose as much as you can get away with has waned over the past year or so. Evidently there are a few hold-outs to the fashion. This kid better be careful. He might find himself part of the People of Walmart collection.
I wrote the following about two years ago after I had a close encounter of the very disturbing kind in the K-Mart parking lot.
“Guess what I saw today in the parking lot of K-Mart?” I asked my husband and our three teenage boys as we hung out in our family room last evening. “Or maybe I should say 'Guess what I almost saw?'”
“What?” one of them responded warily, while the rest just wore that look that says “Oh, no. Here she goes again.” They've learned to recognize a moralizing tale before I even get started.
“I was on my way out of K-Mart. I saw a young adult male, I'd say between eighteen and twenty years old, and what looked like his mother and a couple of younger siblings walking toward me in the parking lot. This young man had on a t-shirt that came down to about his bellybutton, and a pair of jeans belted around the tops of his thighs!”
They all stared at me.
“Really!” I insisted. “There was nothing between his navel and the tops of his legs but a pair of cotton knit boxer briefs! I could see the entire fly of his underwear! I could pretty much see his underwear in its entirety. I was so shocked, and so sure that I must be seeing it wrong, that after we passed each other, I turned around to get a view from 'behind'. I could see his complete backside, clad only in a piece of jersey knit.”
“Now, that is wrong,” my husband rejoined.
“You're sick, Mom,” one of the boys commented, then each one wandered off or busied himself with something. They'd obviously heard enough.
I'm still in shock. I mentioned it to some neighbors of mine, a teenage girl and her mother. They thought it was pretty bad, but they didn't seem as shocked as I had been. Obviously, they'd seen it all before.
“Yeah,” said the girl, “you wouldn't believe what you see at the high school.”
I've been seeing the top part of boys underwear above baggy pants for a long time. I've been seeing a lot of top halves of underwear above very low riding pants for a while now. But to wear a pair of pants belted around your thighs? Does that even technically qualify as wearing pants? And you should have seen how this kid moved. Using an odd gait that it must have taken a lot of practice to master, he managed to move himself along in basically a forward direction. And all this effort for what? To keep the pants in place so they wouldn't fall down and expose his legs?
What brand of modesty is this? If these young men really want to cripple themselves walking around with pants belted around their legs, that's their business, but they should have the decency to spare the rest of us, and wear shirts long enough to cover their bottoms.
And it's definitely time to rethink all those “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” signs.
I read an article by Jay Evensen in the Deseret Morning News a couple of weeks ago headlined Reining in a Sexualized Generation. He wrote about the Louisiana town of Delcambre, where the town council is considering prohibiting the showing of one's underwear in public. I remember reading this and being a bit skeptical. Hmm, I'd thought. As much as I agree that underwear should be worn underneath clothing, sometimes a strap here or a band there is accidentally exposed. I'd hate to see decent people get the book thrown at them on a technicality. But after the spectacle I witnessed in the K-Mart parking lot, I'd like to throw in my support. Maybe even move there.
It's a shame that city officials anywhere even have to think about issues like these. It's all about pushing boundaries, isn't it? If enough mothers, fathers, girlfriends, employers, shop keepers, restaurant owners, etc. would set their own immovable boundaries, maybe we could nip this thing in the butt---sorry, I mean in the bud.