IN DEFENSE OF STICKING WITH A SMALL BAG
an essay by Alexis Cheung
Like it or not, a purse conveys your personality. An “it” bag, for instance, suggests you’re into seeing where new trends take you. A tote bag insists you’re someone who prefers practicality. While a small bag communicates that you’re not a woman who schleps for unseen scenarios, but one who’s ready for spontaneity.
The truth is, most handbags are inherently limiting—weighing you down, belaboring your movements, holding you back. They quickly become catchalls for crud too: gum wrappers, torn receipts, sand from that final beach day in September. No wonder Nora Ephron hated her own.
My own bags are less useful vessels than exercises in imagining hypotheticals. Will I need an extra sweater? Might I want this third book? Maybe I should pack a snack? Before I know it, I’m 20 minutes late and heaving everything I own, plus a small lending library, across the city.
But a small handbag removes that extra weight. Not to mention the unspoken expectation that women should come prepared for any situation—either for ourselves or for others. I personally have a fondness for crossbodies, how they render me unrestrained, whether it’s for dancing all night, devouring midnight pizzas or exchanging embraces with handsome strangers.
After all, it can only contain the essentials: a pen, a phone, a credit card. The beauty is that what’s essential depends entirely on you.
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Alexis Cheung is a writer and editor from Hawaii who lives in Brooklyn.