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It's all in the bag

Posted Thursday, October 18, 2012, at 11:37 AM

I recently saw a segment on television about handbags, the good and the bad.

But what impressed me was the size and weight of those purses that women carry around, sometimes for hours at a time.

So I decide to weigh my own purse to see how much extra baggage I've been toting. It weighed two pounds.

So then I decide to take inventory.

Inside I find a myriad of things, some necessary, some just taking up space. There are two sets of keys, a pen and memo pad, an overstuffed wallet filled with gift cards, appointment cards, IDs, insurance cards, credit cards and a few dollars. Also there's a checkbook, a mini address book, cough drops, Splenda packets, Walmart receipts, hand wipes, a bottle of germ sanitizer, an inhaler, pill boxes, cell phone in a case, three extra pens (they multiply), box of Tic Tacs, lipstick in holder, comb, fold-up brush, loose coins in bottom, one pair of earrings, a granola bar, coupons and a battery. Often, there's a compact fold-up umbrella, but not always. And sometimes a digital camera and sunglasses and a bottle of water.

Do I need all these items? Of course not, but I might.

Some of my purses have added weight with studs or big buckles or nailheads or insignias. One purse has a decorative metal lock that serves no purpose. Some have side pockets for cell phones and key rings attached. There are single strap, double strap, over the shoulder, handheld. They come in plain, dressy, compact and huge. Some are cloth, some leather, some straw. .

Why all these purses? Because a woman wants a brown purse to match brown shoes. And a black bag to match black shoes. She likes to switch from purse to purse, color to color.

My closet holds purses that are different shades of green. There's also a denim, a leopard print, a gold one, and blacks, grays, and whites. And one red purse, too.

I do have several smaller purses but they just do not have the space I need for everyday use. Those are my special occasion purses.

My daughter has often told me that if I would lighten the load, that would relieve pressure on my shoulder, my back and my neck. That makes sense but I notice she doesn't follow her own advice. She carries a satchel (to and from classroom) that must weigh 10 pounds

It's true that carrying a too-heavy shoulder strap bag can lead to health problems including muscle spasms, pain in the back, neck or joints; sprains or strains or headache, or shoulder pain. Muscles in the neck and shoulder run up to the head, while the nerves in the neck run all the way down the arms.

There are good practices that can reduce strain on the body.

Heavier objects should be placed near the bottom and rear of bags.

Moving a single strap purse or bag from shoulder to shoulder or switching between different bags can help stave off problems.

Correct posture can reduce strain, too.

Carrying a lighter load is, of course, a no brainer. And two straps are better than one.

Adults using single-strap purses should not carry more than 10 percent of their body weight.

And children should carry less than 15 percent of their body weight in backpacks. I see children who trudge along after school carrying heavy loads in backpacks and I wonder how they keep from harming themselves.

Men are wiser when it comes to what they carry around. They distribute what they carry, too. There's a wallet, usually carried in a back pants pocket, some keys carried in a front pants pocket, and a pen which is usually clipped to a shirt pocket. And, a cell phone attached to a belt. That's about it, except for maybe a pocket knife and nail clippers. A man will carry the same black or brown wallet until it is threadbare or until someone buys him a new one.

Someone tried to start a fad whereby men carried purses, but men didn't fall for that malarkey.

A briefcase, yes, but not a purse.

I have one lady friend who carries only a wallet and a set of keys; no purse.

But when I do that, I invariably want something that's in the bag back home.

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By Peggy Johnson
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