I have carried a purse since I was 12 years old. Around that age, two important things happen. First, girls begin to care (or are told to care, and I did) that being fashion conscious is important.
See how fashionable I am? I even carry a purse.
Your purse is a necessary item to complete your outfit, and a lady isn’t fully dressed without one, or so I inferred from the media at the time (magazines, TV, etc. Pre-internet and iPhone era). Second, your clothes begin to lack pockets in a major way. Occasionally as a kid I would have overalls, jeans, or other clothes that had pockets. But once a girl hits the Juniors section, it’s goodbye pockets. Either you don’t have them at all, or they are essentially just decorative. And so in early adolescence, carrying a purse became for me a social and functional necessity.
More than 25 years later, I have lived the gamut of consequences that accompany a life trained to rely on a purse instead of a pocket, the sum total of which has shown me that carrying a purse has made me more vulnerable and incompetent than I otherwise would have been if I’d been equipped with pockets instead.
Might as well be one of those sixth-grade egg babies for all the minding it needs.
My complete inability to dance at parties comes to mind first. I am chalking this up to the anxiety that always accompanies the “But what about my purse??” moment right before I walk out to the floor. Who is going to watch that blasted thing? How stupid will I look if I hold it while I’m dancing? If it gets stolen, I’ll have no money, no ID, and no phone, and possibly no way to get home. Wretched clutches too - some are barely deep enough to zip a credit card shut inside, let alone my phone.
And the phone!! Oh the phone. I can never find it.
I know it's in here someplace...(actually it's not - I left it on the stairs, a kid stole it, changed the language to Greek, silenced it, and hid it in his toy pirate ship. True story).
It doesn’t fit even in the pitifully small back pockets on my jeans (and I’m usually wearing pocketless leggings anyway). I bought an Apple Watch for the sole reason that it has a phone locator button on it. And half the time it doesn’t work anyway. Why? Because the watch is meant to be kept near the phone (ie, in the pocket WHICH I DON’T HAVE). Instead, it’s usually buried in my purse, which is lost somewhere in the house or car.
That is another thing about the purse life vs. the pocket life. Lugging around a purse full of junk might make me well-prepared for many situations, but it also makes me slower and it weighs me down. The other day I set a cup of coffee down on a table, only to have my purse slip off my shoulder, whacking hard on my arm and spilling the coffee all over everything.
3-2-1 WHACK. 3-2-1 WHACK. All day long. Day after day. Year after year.
More than once I’ve had to drop a purse and run fast to catch an escaping toddler, only to have to run back in a panic to the purse lying there just as helpless and vulnerable as if it were another child.
And because it’s filled with so much junk, it weighs nearly as much as a child. Think about what that does to a person’s shoulder. I had a friend who went to see a doctor because she was having chest pains - the doctor asked her which shoulder she carried her purse on. Yeah - that’s right - her purse was so heavy it mimicked cardiac arrest symptoms.
That's without the 7 ounces of cell phone.
Speaking of all that junk - carrying a purse has trained me to assume I am helpless without all the stuff in it. It’s as if I couldn’t take care of myself if I didn’t have the purse and its “necessary” contents with me. In fact, all that junk is really just getting in my way constantly.
So that's where my Apple Watch went.
How many times have I ever used a hand mirror or sewing kit, or even the box of bandaids? Or any of the gift cards in the second wallet I always carry? Why do I have three of the same kind of chapstick, two lip glosses, and a lipstick in here? Wait, are those goldfish cracker crumbs?? No wonder I can never find my keys or phone. And the bigger the purse, the more “necessary” stuff you throw in there. I try always to buy a really small purse so I have to self-edit the things I’m carrying around and I still end up fishing into it trying to find the 3 things I actually do need (wallet, keys, phone), all of which would fit in just one functional pocket.
Sometimes (because, Fashion) I need to switch purses.
See how I did that? I dressed up.
This is a disaster every time it happens. Invariably something I need ends up in the purse I’m not currently carrying. I drove without a driver’s license and left the front door unlocked for a month because of this phenomenon - I had forgotten that the keys and license were in a different purse, and by the time I remembered that, I had forgotten where that other purse was. I nearly ended up replacing the license, which I had already recently done because I had had a previous purse stolen.
Replacing the contents of a stolen or missing purse is where my lack of self-editing is most on display. The list included: the entire contents of my wallet (driver’s license, metro card, credit cards, health ID cards, teeny old scrunched up worn out pictures of my kids as toddlers), passport, all the keys to everywhere including the house and work and both cars, expensive makeup, and some real treasures that I could not replace that I should not have had in there because I didn’t need to have them on me at all times - like the necklace I took off one night and never put away properly.
But the worst, the absolute worst thing about relying on a purse is dealing with public restrooms.
Hmmm. No shelf or hook. Rounded toilet paper dispenser. Wet floor. Broken, hanging tampon disposal unit. My purse is doomed.
I’ve held my purse in my teeth, put it on the floor (gross!), tried in vain to tie its thick strap to a hook too small to hold it. It’s fallen off that ridiculous fold-up shelf. It’s fallen off the toilet paper holder. One particularly ill-fated day I was in a stall that didn’t have any place at all to put it and the floor was wet. It was too awkward to hold it since I was wearing Complicated Women’s Clothing. So I put it on the top of the toilet. It immediately tipped over and everything fell in the toilet - all my credit cards and lipsticks and pictures and, most painfully of all, my rosary. I cried and cried and got everything out and cried some more.
I want to tell you that that moment was an epiphany in which I rejected carrying a purse forever after. But that didn’t happen. It would have meant drastically changing my wardrobe - choosing clothes that only have pockets. And there aren’t enough garments that coordinate well enough or that fit in my budget or that freaking look halfway decent on my curves that ALSO have pockets. So I’m stuck with this wretched purse until I die or start a clothing line called “Pockets on Everything!!!.”
Oh wait! I already did that last thing!
My awesome dragon outfit with POCKETS!!!
I started this company, Princess Awesome, to empower girls, and putting pockets into their clothes whenever it’s possible does exactly that. I want my daughter to expect and demand pockets on her clothes. And there are enough women out there who have had that contents-of-purse-in-toilet moment to also demand that their daughters get pockets too. Because pockets encourage the good habit of being prepared, but only with what you really need.
Princess Awesomen always has pockets for moms and daughters!
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