Thursday, February 10, 2011


Oversized seems to be the rage. Too small? Not enough space. Too large, can't find anything. The rage? I'll pass.

Why in the world do we women carry purses? We've gone through the time when the man purse was trying to take hold. If necessary, they now carry backpacks or some other type of 'manly' bag. In researching the origins of the handbag, I discovered that men did indeed carry the first ancient fanny packs and shoulder bags. In the 1400's, a groom presented his bride with an embellished purse. Personally, I think this was the time when men decided that purse carrying should be handed off.

My chiropractor told me to stop carrying my shoulder bag. My back and neck were hurting. I also found that I seemed to list to the left when I carried the bag. It was then that I decided to rethink the necessity of the purse.

I happened to hit a real deal at TJ Maxx a few years ago. A little black, leather purse was tucked to the back of the rack full of grocery bag-sized purses. Added bonus: It was a Ralph Lauren. I paid less than $20 for the purse. Took it home and then evaluated what I really needed inside of this purse.

Why we women think we need to be prepared for anything and everything is beyond me. If someone needs a bandaid, why did I think I needed to provide a first aid kit? Why did I need a complete make up kit at my side at all times? Did I really think I would get ugly during the day? Why did I need to carry pictures of every member of my family for 5 generations? Why did I need tape, scissors and glue? Another pair of nylons? A sewing kit? Some purses are so large I'd expect them to hold pots and pans? Why?

My mother carried paper and pencil, little toys, even little activity books in her purse. She was prepared in case a child might be in need of entertainment. As a child, I loved her purse. I even have an old notebook that Mom carried with little pictures of pigs, bunnies and tic tac toe from the hands of a little girl sitting on the hard church pew. Mom held my history in that little book.

Now my mom was notorious for leaving her purse behind. We made so many return trips back to restaurants, church, weddings, friends we had visited. She always misplaced her purse. In reflection, I have a feeling she got tired of lugging that small piece of luggage around. Why did she feel responsible? Did it make her feel special ready to supply an answer to a need?

My little black purse goes everywhere with me. I have a tube of lipstick which I rarely wear, my ID and pictures of my two granddaughters and two grandnephews, a pen, a Kleenex or two, a couple of dollars, contact case, breath refresher and Advil. Do I ever wish I had something else in there? Do I ever find myself in a bind needing a bandaid, piece of paper, ironing board? No. My back and neck no longer hurt. And, I rarely look in my purse.

Sometimes I even shop without a purse. I'm not sure yet what to do with my hands. I feel a little naked without it, but my security is not in my purse. My self-confidence is not in my purse. My confident 63-years in not in my purse.

I still walk down the purse aisle. I think to myself that maybe I shouldn't carry the black purse while wearing my tennies or brown shoes. I wonder if I should buy another little purse for variety giving my black one a rest. Then I look down at my side. I'm not even carrying a purse. Free at last.

Perhaps if it is too difficult to give up the purse addiction, one should give their male counterpart a gift, a reminder of that handed to the women in the 1400's.

Purse free and stylin'!


  1. I have laughed for years about my quest for the perfect purse. I, too, have been told by a doctor to lose the shoulder bag. Now I have a nice backpack-style purse. But it's a pain to get into. Thanks for the food for thought.

  2. I have less luck with purses than with men. I have a whole stash of them in my closet that "just didn't work out"--purses, not men. My favorite one is a tiny bag that hangs on a very long strap. Unfortunately, it's a tad too tiny, since one of the things I sometimes need to put in my purse is a pair of glasses. I have a new purse I bought while Christmas shopping, but we're still in the early stages of our relationship. It's too soon to tell whether it's going to stick.