Imagine that you are walking down the street. You are immersed in your own thoughts, planning the rest of your busy day. Then from nowhere, a girl runs up to you, asking if she can weigh your purse. Surprised, you say yes. Then soon after the weighing process, you discover the “Shocking Side Effects of Carrying a Heavy Bag” like yours.
The problems discussed in the ELLE video seems to be rather simple. But after watching it, I was shocked. Then pissed. But finally, sad. The truth is that this video addresses way “heavier problems” of a modern woman than carrying an overloaded one-sided bag.
PROBLEM #1 AN AVERAGE WOMAN CARRIES 67 ITEMS IN HER BAG
Real Problem #1 “A woman thing” stereotypes
So, according to the video women carry all this caboodle for different occasions, circumstances, and who-knows-what. However, often they don’t need this stuff, and they openly admit it. And sometimes, they don’t even know why they carry them in the first place.
So, why do we do these things?
The answer might be found from one of the more absurd social stereotypes often referred to as “it´s a woman thing”. We women have the “pleasure” to be exposed to it and are encouraged to accept it as a truth. But this skewed truth is often ruining our mental and physical health. Even when we consciously rebel against it, we often subconsciously still believe in this deeply rooted myth. The myth that – among other lies – claims that we women aren’t organized, decisive or logical. Or that we don’t have time to prioritize ourselves with our tasks because there is always too much to do but never enough time.
The myth that – among other lies – claims that we women aren’t organized, decisive or logical.
Later we confirm this illusion by acting accordingly – jeopardizing our health for “pieces of plastic, metal or paper.”
No, a heavy bag does not have to be an indicator of “the cost of being a woman.” Yes, you can choose what you want to carry inside. Some solutions can decrease the weight of your one-sided monster. It boils down to prioritization, organization and being honest with yourself.
Dedicate a medium size box for your easy-to-remember storage space. You will put there all the stuff that might end up in your bag – on various occasions.
CLEAN UP YOUR BAG
You will need approx 5 minutes per day to organize your stuff for the next day. Be honest with yourself while looking through the items. Ask yourself if you truly need this one thing for the following day. If yes, take it out of the box and place into your bag. If no, put it back to the box. Additionally, dedicate one corner of the box for less important things (like receipts and coins) and go through them weekly.
CHOOSE YOUR MVP (MINIMUM VIABLE PURSE)
So as not to break your spine, here are 6 organization suggestions (based on the video) that might help you to prioritize your bag content.
- Umbrella or sunglasses: Check the daily weather forecast. The chances are that you don’t need both of these items simultaneously nor every day.
- Wallet: Your wallet does not have to be of a size (and weight) of a brick. Ask yourself what do you really need with you tomorrow. Your id? Credit cards? Metro pass? Gym pass? Grocery shopping card?
- Spare change: Think about what you might need change for tomorrow – parking or a newspaper? Approximate the amount and take 10-15% more just in case. Leave the rest at home.
- Keychain: Invest in one lightweight keychain, or choose the lightest one of those that you already have.
- Book or magazine: When outside the house use your phone, tablet or kindle to read.
- Extra pair of shoes: Ah yes, if your sexist employer really cares about the height of your heels at work instead of your productivity and expertise, then leave your heels at work, and change from your flats when entering your workplace. If this is also unacceptable – change your job.
USE THE MINIMUM AT WORK
Remove non-essential items from your bag when going to work. Then you don’t have to carry this brick with you to all your meetings and breaks.
PROBLEM #2 GUYS DON’T NEED TO CARRY AS MUCH STUFF AS WOMEN
REAL PROBLEM #2 FEMALE VS. MALE STEREOTYPES
This is a good example of “a woman thing” in action, and in a wider context. A third of the way through the video, we can finally see the first example of the man approaching the bag problem. And within seconds we find out that, surprisingly, for a man, there isn’t one! Why (again and again) men are shown as extremely organized beings? Who possess advance prioritization skills that are preceded by efficient organizational abilities allowing them to crack the-crucial-items-for-the-day task within seconds. So they can pick four items and then enjoy the rest of the day while also taking care of their health and well-being?
And women can’t or don’t know how to do this? So they need to walk around with 67 items?
Dear video producers it is not about not showing that guys are organized or logical in their decision and actions. It is about showing that we women are capable of doing the same things. It is about not strengthening the beliefs that some behaviors are typically female (because these actions were considered this in the past or because we have been told so). It is time to understand that we have the power to change our present reality by the way we act and what we say.
PROBLEM #3 WEARING A PURSE TAKES A TOLL OF YOUR BACK
REAL PROBLEM #3 IGNORING OUR FEMALE HEALTH
Wearing a purse can take its toll on your entire life. Over-exaggerated?
Good health might be such a boring and hackneyed topic for some people. But our lives depend on it. And usually, we start to understand it, once we lose our good health.
Remember your health comes first. Before everything – your look, duties, and employment. And if the vision of the back pain is not enough for you to stop sacrificing yourself – then let me take you one level further. There might not be a direct and apparent correlation between a one-sided purse and pelvic pain, but there is a direct correlation between back pain and pelvic pain. And believe me, as a pelvic pain veteran I can tell you, you don’t want to gamble with this one.
Remember your health comes first. Before everything – your look, duties, and employment.
Certain back conditions can cause direct or sympathetic pain in a pelvic region due to a muscular injury (like pulled, strained or sprained muscles or ligaments), or pinched nerves. And that can lead to pelvic organ pain. If this picture is still not vivid enough to throw your bag away than maybe this post will change your mind.
Now, I’m not saying that every pelvic pain starts or gets aggravated from a one-sided bag. What I’m saying is that among all the factors that might contribute to this excruciating pain, you don’t want to unintentionally add another one which can be easily omitted.
COMMUTE WITH A BACKPACK
Invest in a backpack for your commute. Leave your fancy, nonfunctional bag at work and simply swap your stuff when you get to work.
If you really need to carry a purse then at least make sure you regularly switch shoulders. If your strap is long enough, make it cross-body.
USE A SECOND BAG
During your commute, use another bag (like a tote bag) for your heels, workout clothes or lunch. This will introduce an equal weight on the opposite side of the body.
STOP WEARING HEELS
Yes, your back and pelvic floor will thank you for ditching the heels while commuting with a heavy bag.
PROBLEM #4 NOT BEING ABLE TO WEAR CERTAIN CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES TO WORK
REAL PROBLEM #4 FEMALE WORTH BASED ON APPEARANCE
Isn’t it worrying that a woman who works for ELLE which is ”a worldwide lifestyle magazine(…)that focuses on fashion, beauty, health, and entertainment”, says that she can’t go to work in flat shoes or go to the meeting with an elegant backpack? Even though this affects her health?
I do understand that there are no official policies protecting women from sexist dress code at work. However, I also understand that the worth of a female employee, her professionalism and expertise is not measured by the height of her heels or the number of straps on her bag.
It almost feels like ELLE shoots itself in the foot by showing their employee complaining that she is not able to wear comfortable (and comfortable doesn’t equal inelegant) clothing to work, because of their possible sexist dress code.
The worth of a female employee, her professionalism and expertise is not measured by the height of her heels or the number of straps on her bag
You would assume (falsely it appears) that places like ELLE should be beyond this type of outdated internal policy or spoken agreement and would be protecting female employees. Right?
Dear society (yes, with extra emphasis on employers), please stop telling women what we should and shouldn’t, can or can’t wear. And insinuating that our intelligence stays at home – on our shoe racks or in our wardrobes. It is about time we changed this outdated view.
STAND UP TO OUTDATED RULES
Please speak up. Share relevant articles and videos on your social media. Educate your family, friends and yes, even your employers.
PROBLEM #5 FEMALE CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES ARE NOT PRACTICAL
REAL PROBLEM #5 BACKWARDNESS OF THE FASHION INDUSTRY
Our great-grannies would probably turn in their graves and dolefully cry out knowing that our society (along with the fashion industry) still embodies the true meaning of a female existence with a beautiful and slim look. It is not rocket science to figure out that carrying 6 kg in a one-sided bag, bigger than our torsos, with 1 cm wide straps is not an optimal solution. And having ten pockets that are fake is a mediocre formula for success.
DECREASE A DEMAND
Don’t buy stuff that doesn’t fit your standards. It might be easier said than done but the less of these articles you buy, the more you force designers to rethink the way they design for us. So maybe finally they will start designing practical things. Also please speak up. And share cool, innovative solutions and forward thinking places with your female friends.
DESIGN FUNCTIONAL STUFF
Let this be the first challenge for eager fashion designers who want to disrupt the industry – design something that is both elegant and practical at the same time. Somehow sport equipment companies are capable of creating products like functional backpacks (with extra paddings, adjustable straps and so on) that also look good.
And let’s make the second challenge creation of clothing with actual pockets – any pockets. A priority of the design industry should be to focus on not making female bodies look bulky – let’s add this requirement to the challenge too.
The real problem shown in this video is not an overloaded bag. It’s what this bag represents.
The main, hidden but very real message, behind these seven minutes, perfectly shows how we women are still unconsciously and often unquestionably accepting the attributed female behaviors and outdated beliefs forced upon us. Behaviors and beliefs that don’t make us wealthier, happier or healthier. Plus it shows how we still aren’t aware of the enormous power that we possess to change this narrative.
So what does it truly mean to be a modern woman today?
For me being a modern women means to acknowledge that I don’t have to accept and follow attributed and archaic gender oriented roles and beliefs in my life story – if I decide not to. Roles and beliefs that jeopardize my health and diminish my value as a human being. Just because I have a vagina. I have, along with other women, a true power to change the course of our history.
I do consider myself a conscious modern woman. But often I’m surprised with myself whenever I realize how society’s outdated stereotypes still dictate some of my behaviors. Stereotypes that are deeply imprinted in my unconsciousness. And when I’m watching videos like this one, I realize that I am not the only one.
So, imagine that you are walking down the street. You are immersed in your own thoughts, planning the rest of your busy day. Then from nowhere, a girl runs up to you, wanting to ask you a question. Surprised, you say yes. And the question is:
When was the last time that you stopped and asked yourself: “Why am I actually carrying this heavy bag around?”
START YOUR JOURNEY TOWARDS HEALING
Because life’s too short. And you deserve to be healthy + happy.