The past week I have been thinking constantly about the significance of handbags in a woman’s life. Strange thing to think about you might think. Yes I agree, but how many women do you see without some form of handbag? Very few I would say. So why are we so attached to this ( if you look at it critically ) strange looking appendix hanging from every woman’s arm or shoulder?
As many times before I turned to researching the origins and history of handbags and learned a few interesting facts. I also came across some very informative opinions about the role of handbags in a woman’s life.
Handbags have been used as far back as the 14th and 15th century in the form of a pouch attached to the girdle and worn by both men and women.In the 18th Century ladies started carrying their handbags in their hands, as it was thought that wearing a purse attached to their clothing would ruin the look of the day’s fashion. This started the handbag’s evolutionary journey from simple pouch to fashionable necessity and even status symbol such as the it bag of today and the creations of famous fashion designers.
Then there are the opinions on the symbolic meaning of handbags. These blew my mind!
The handbag as a symbol of identity: Women have through the ages been the nurturers and and caregivers of the family and people around them. According to the author Ada Faulk this instinct has evolved into women carrying all they and everyone else could possibly need in their designer handbags. Come to think of it I can identify and agree with this statement.
The handbag as symbol of power: The same author as above sees Magaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth ‘s stuctured handbags and pocketbooks, without which they were never seen as a symbol of female power .
In her own words about Margaret Thatcher: Her pocketbooks came to be viewed as veritable munitions depots constructed of polished black leather. They became a synecdoche for the woman herself: conservative, intimidating, feminine. ( Ada Faulk www. the daily beast.com)
Now to my own handbag ! To fulfill this excercise I, for the first time in many months, emptied my handbag on the bed and looked critically at the contents.
Car and house keys, symbol of my independence and ability to reach home.
Cell phone, symbol of being in contact and ability to call for assistance in need.
Credit card,debit card and cash , symbol of my ability to provide for myself and my family.
Many cash slips , symbol of my neglect of admin.
Driver’s license and identity document, symbol of me as a person.
Tissues , symbol of caring.
Comb and lipstick, symbol of being a woman.
Pen and notebook , symbol of preparedness.
Small container containing emergency medication, symbol of being a nurturer.
Apple, symbol of caring for physical needs.
Peppermints, symbol of my sweet tooth.
Do you remember having a security blanket or soft toy without which you wouldn’t go anywhere or couldn’t sleep when you were a child?
When I looked at the motley collection of items on the bed, I realised, my handbag replaced the security blanket of my childhood. With my handbag full of tricks I feel I can face the world and anything it throws at me!
What about yours ?