Does size really matter? (We're talking about handbags, of course.)

You Can Tell From My Handbag—I’m Failing at Womanhood

Ladies, could you clue me in to the purpose of a disturbing trend? I went to buy a new handbag and realized that, judging from the selection, it is now fashionable to carry a grocery sack. These bags appear to be large enough to carry all the essentials—keys, wallet, phone, Kindle or book, and maybe a bottle of water or snack—as well as a week’s worth of groceries, two sweaters, an 8-track cassette player, and a small dog.

These gigantor bags are properly called “totes,” which I know because I had to wade through several pages of terminology to discover that I wanted the style of a tote combined with the size of a satchel. (Is “satchel” even a real word? It’s what my grandmother always calls bags, and she calls plastic containers “Tufferware” and transgendered persons “morphydites,” so I’m pretty sure “satchel” isn’t real.)

So, ladies, what are we toting? I can’t figure it out. Even as a new mom, I’ve managed to keep my everyday bag down to one that’s 10-inches-long. I worry that I might be doing something wrong, like I might be terribly ill-prepared for an impending disaster. When the apocalypse happens and my son and I are at the park (in my mind, that’s where we always are at the advent of the apocalypse), some superior mother will reach into her gargantuan “tote” and produce enough cans of tuna and antibacterial hand gel and inspirational texts for everyone. I will be left to fall to my knees in an anguish of shame, saying, “Why, WHY didn’t I buy a tote like all the other mothers? I thought I could provide for my family’s needs with a mere satchel? For my pride, I am suffering thus.” Because I would probably say something like that. And the mother with the gargantuan handbag will be radiant with heroism and her child will be proud of her, while my child will simply stare at me, shaking his head in derision.

The modern woman already feels inadequate in so many respects. Can we take the pressure of being judged by our choice of handbag? Will it be long before bags become the penises of womanhood, before we find “Pump up your bag and be a REAL WOMAN!” emails in our spam folders? Will we live in a world where women nudge each other and whisper “Will you look at the size of her bag?”

Apparently, having more than one handbag—different handbags for different occasions—is also a thing, as is getting excited about a new line of bags, painting one’s nails to match one’s bag, and having parties to sell bags.

Standing here with my obviously too-small, multipurpose bag covered in dried milk stains and powdered sugar, in the shoes of an elderly woman who gardens as a hobby, I can’t pretend. Am I not hopeless? Teach me your ways, my sisters.

What does the size of your handbag say about you as a woman? We're talking about disturbing handbag trends In the Powder Room!

This is an updated version of a piece by Abby Byrd which first appeared on her blog, Little Miss Perfect, and is reprinted with permission In the Powder Rooma division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured image © 

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Abby Byrd is a teacher, a grammarian, and the poster mom for existential angst. Her work has appeared on BLUNTMoms and Scary Mommy and in Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays. Find her on Twitter @AbbyBWriter, on Facebook (, and on her blog, Little Miss Perfect (

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  1. says

    “For my pride, I am suffering thus.” –Ha. I’d probably “look” like the ready-for-the-apocalypse mom, but what I carry around would be useless in an emergency. Definitely need to have whatever book I’m reading and a notebook, to record my thoughts, non-emergency thoughts. So when the tornadoes of fire come I’ll probably only have that one dried-up Wet Nap at the bottom of my bag that won’t even protect my pinkie finger.


  1. […] Need a laugh? Or two? Or three? That’s exactly what you’ll get In the Powder Room. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know that I sometimes tweet their articles. They make me laugh til I cry. Seriously. that’s so henlens: You can tell from my handbag-I’m failing at womanhood. […]