February 7, 2009

The Beautiful Backpack -- an oxymoron?

I walk home from work. I walk far. I walk fast. I need my arms swinging and my hands free – mainly for the cardiovascular benefit but also to push people out of my way. I am a woman with a purpose and a destination. I’m not your Sunday stroller. I aim to cover 5 kms in 45 minutes and most days I succeed.

But the ongoing struggle to find the perfect carrying devise for this trek is wearing me down. I don’t need a lot of things, but I do work downtown in a semi-corporate environment where running shoes are not an option. Neither is a lululemon tank. So I must carry with me the following:

a pair of slightly worn, slightly ripe running shoes

a pair of appropriately absorbent, shock absorbing socks (clean)

a lululemon tank

a good read (I do resort to public transportation in the mornings – I’ve just coiffed the hair after all)

lunch (what can I say – I’m cheap and don’t think spending $12 for a sandwich with some sprouts on the side is worth it)

my itouch (I like to listen to fast music, gets me moving and also with the ear buds firmly shoved into my ear canals, I can’t hear the curses of the people I have to push out of my way)

a small handbag (obviously I can’t carry the huge bag I need to lug all this stuff around with me to a business meeting. And a girl has to have the basic essentials with her at all times – debit card, credit card, business card, lip gloss and a tampon)

my notebook (all my thoughts and observations with plenty of room for more and it’s magenta – need I say more?)

a camera (you just never know when you’ll need to capture those moments when there is a double rainbow, or the cherry blossoms are at their finest, or your co-worker is napping under her desk

umbrella (it rains in Vancouver – we get it)

sunglasses (… but it is sunny hear on occasion – in fact more often than we would like those of you living elsewhere to know)

reading glasses (it’s not me, it’s just that they have to put so much information on things these days, that they have to use a smaller font to fit it all on. Really. I’ve read studies)

and a small cosmetic bag with a nail file, Excedrin, Aleve, some touch-up makeup and of course more tampons

Now all of this (ok, maybe there is a bit more here than originally admitted) has to fit into a carrying devise that meets certain criteria. The first being size. It obviously has to be roomy enough to hold, ok, the many things I need, but it can’t be so large I look as if I’m heading to base camp at Everest. I want to be able to walk with a tall, proud posture not that of a hunched over nonagenarian.

The second criterion is design. While it needs to be a good size it also must be an appealing shape. To walk around with something that looks like a small suitcase over my shoulder or on my back is not flattering. Wearing a retractable handle and wheels is not my idea of refined jewellery.

It also must be made of durable yet attractive material. Nothing so shiny that crows attack or so bland that I could be heading out on reconnaissance with the Armed Forces. Pretty, yet elegant.

The third criterion is straps or handles. Remember that my arms and hands must be unencumbered. I don’t want to walk with a large purse over my right shoulder while my right arms is bent at an uncomfortable angle so that my right hand can hold on to the straps of a cumbersome bag – all just to keep it from falling off my right shoulder or bumping into people I just want to push out of my way anyway.

I also don’t relish the across the chest strap. My chest is just not meant to support 20 odd pounds of extra stuff. It’s uncomfortable; it causes either mono-boob or separates with no lift depending on the width of the strap. And I’m not thrilled with calling more attention to that particular area of my , er, personality. Add to that the bulk of the weight is now banging against my butt, and well, it’s just not a graceful way to move through life.

Taking all this into account, the type of carrying devise I am left with is – do I dare say it? A BACKPACK. I see all of you shaking your heads. Backpacks are for children and come in cute, fuzzy little animal shapes. Or for university students who half-heartedly drag their overflowing packs through esteemed halls of higher learning. But a woman in her 40s with a job and a dog too large to be an accessory – what am I thinking? We’ve all seen those women who wear those teeny, tiny little backpacks that would barely fit a TicTac mint. What is the point? But I believe there are women out there, living in silence and shame that would kill for a truly functional, professional and stylish backpack.

So I appeal to all fashion designers. We have worn your stilettos, your mini, midi and maxi skirts, your big shoulders and your no shoulders. We have squeezed our butts into low-rise and no-rise jeans and we have lived for years popping out of sexy, low cut bras every time we bend over. And we have done it all with delight because it makes us feel sexy, and womanly and attractive. Good about ourselves. But just once, can you heed our call and create something truly beautiful and practical – functional but elegant. An accessory that meets the needs of the 21st century woman. I already have a pink Cuisinart, what I need is a Beautiful Backpack.


Dan Johnson said...

Hah! Very funny, I feel your pain. I have struggled for years trying to find the perfect carrying device- to no avail...backpack too big for what I usually need to lug. I don't walk to work but I find the Liquor Store bag works fairly well...and I have plenty of them...

Stephanie said...

OMG Li. You are too funny. I will pray for you and your perfect backpack!

Anonymous said...

had any luck? i've been looking far and wide for the same thing!! found your post by googling "beautiful backpack" - haha..


Lianne said...

Not yet...but I do have a lead on one at www.luglife.com. I'll keep you posted.