I’m seeing them everywhere: a stylishly cut bag of a nice rectangular shape with good straps, roomy enough to fit all your daily necessities, as well as a tablet or small laptop. I’d grab one myself. But here’s the thing: they are transparent. Yes, I don’t know the girl in the pretty trenchcoat standing next to me by the traffic light, and I’ll probably never see her again, but I will remember every item in her bag, since I’ve had time to scrutinize it in conveniently visible detail.
I don’t want to know she has extra socks with her, even if I admire her for it. I am not interested in her make-up, and if I should suddenly lean that way, there are more than plenty of people on Instagram and YouTube telling me about their choices. I might have asked her about the book she’s reading, but I would actually have felt like it was more appropriate to do so if she was reading it on the bus in front of me. And the stray hairs littering the bottom of the bag from all those hairbands and scrunchies are just too much information for my morning.
The year before I started high school, most of the girls in my class seemed to have suddenly cloned the way they would bring things to school. You’d stuff pens, pencils, erasers, a bus pass and maybe the lipstick you stole from your mother into a handbag the size of a small notebook (making sure to take out only the lipstick with a flourish once in class, and not draw attention to the rest), then carry it in one hand and a plastic bag with your books in the other. If you did did things differently (a backpack, gasp!), you were suspiciously stared at.
But it couldn’t be just any plastic bag – it had to aspire to be chic, preferably with some non-supermarket logo, and then you were all set. It didn’t matter if the bag was bulging or weighing you down. It didn’t matter if this bag was transparent. Heck, it didn’t even matter if it tore and your books fell through the bottom right in to a puddle of autumn/ winter slush. The main thing was, at 12 years old you retained your freshly discovered womanly dignity in your too-small handbag. This life challenge followed you through high school.
Are even handbags being stripped (no pun intended) of privacy these days? Blocking the contents of a bag from being seen while out and about is one of the things in life we can actually control, choosing what to share and what not to about our daily routines and plans, saving ourselves at least a little of plenty of inevitable judging and misinterpretations from others. And there are so many lovely bags to enjoy carrying, surely it’s a shame not to get to play around with styles and colours? Isn’t it more convenient to store your dental floss in a small inner zip-up pocket than get another container or holder for it to put in the look-in-here bag? But wait, maybe the point is for people to see your dental floss. So they can remember to buy their own?
Aside from all these deep philosophical discussions, here’s a plain, practical question: do we seriously want to make it easier for muggers and pickpockets?
I just don’t get it.