Published On: Mon, Jan 21st, 2013

What’s in your purse?

When it comes to being prepared, the Boy Scouts have nothing on my mom and other women who have more stuff in their purses then their kitchen cabinet. When I was a kid I can remember that everything I ever needed my mom could instantly provide out of the Pandora box called her bag.  I sneezed and I got tissues, I got hungry on the way I got small snacks, dirty hands no problem just grab the hand sanitizer. When I got bored waiting at the doctors office; color pencils and mac Donald’s happy meal toys are just one reach away. Along with her aspirin, vitamins, sunglasses, lipstick, eyelash curler, chewing gum, wallet, books, agenda, passport, empty candy wrappings, water bottle, and more she probably carried over 20 pounds of necessities every day. And, Lord I was embarrassed when she pulled everything out when she was searching for her wallet at the counter in supermarket.

The gigantic handbags swollen with all the can't-live-without necessities haven't only become fashion staples in the last few years, they're the grown woman's security blanket, a reassuring repository of everything imagine needing, hanging like a toddler from the aching shoulders.

Before the twentieth century, when housewives began to spend more time away from home that they had ever spent before, the purse had not yet evolved into the bottomless pit of the contemporary woman’s seemingly infinite handbag. Instead, its was largely optional accessory designed to carry a few basic items for a brief excursions to church, the opera, the theater, or other women’s houses, places where they could survive quite comfortably on the consents of a draw-string pouch slung around their wrist containing such things as fan, mirror, perfumes, pad of paper, pencil and powder stuff. As women began to join the work force in even larger number during World War I and dramatically increased the scope of their activities the duffle purse began her rise to the top.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, women should avoid carrying purses that are more than 10 percent of their body weight.  Some bags particularly the “mom bag” and even the gadget-heavy “man bag” can easily top this number. A recent study by the British Chiropractic Association, in fact, showed that the average man purse weights nearly 14 pounds (laptops, iPads and battery packs really add up), a lopsided load that can cause back and shoulder pain and have a negative impact on the body posture.

Purses can be hazardous in other ways, too, not only harboring a host of bacteria, but the potential for all kinds of filthy accidents. Consumer products market researcher Kelley Styring, author of “In Your Purse: Archaeology of the American Handbag,” says the purse’s role as a “giant junk drawer” can definitely make it a dangerous hiding place. “The purse is dark and deep and the way we find things is to plunge one hand inside and rotate it around like a Mixmaster,” she says.

Consolidating where it’s possible (for instance, putting vitamins or aspirin in a plastic bag instead of carrying around multiple bottles) is another way to lighten the load. Regularly cleaning out loose change, as well accumulated coupons, receipts, mail or flyers. A good vacuum once a week is another good way to eliminate germs (not to mention those forgotten lunches and chewing gums).

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