Sunday, February 26, 2006

In the Bag

Another Sunday morning spent with the New York Times. The Women's Fashion Spring 2006 magazine was included in this issue, and I have so far made it through 156 pages of shoes, dresses, history, bone density, and more. I've ground to a halt though at an article by Daphne Merkin about women's obsessions with bags. (And if you click on the link to the article, be sure to read the final, ludicrous paragraph.)

Pictured at the top of the article is the new Fendi bag that I have seen everywhere in a variety of colors and materials. The bag is $4,310. I remember getting into a heated argument with a friend in college about the fact that his grandmother owned a $6,000 purse. I was so upset at the absurdity that I couldn't think clearly enough to get beyond my people-are-starving-in-Africa argument.

After less than two years in New York City, I have come to a sad acceptance of such inequities. Instead, I am focused on other facts in the article, such as the idea that a bag is the manifestation of a woman's sene of self. I am not angered by the prices, but am disgusted in a different way by the objects we use to create our identities.

I can be upset about the $4,310 purchase many women will be making to create some statement about themselves (a statement, I suppose, that will vary depending on the exact bag they choose.) But I also look around and see it in my own home, with my excessive book purchases, astounding number of pairs of shoes, brightly colored duvet that makes me happy though I shouldn't have spent the money on it, hundreds of cds, my beloved laptop, receipts for dinners at a variety of restaurants, the digital camera, and, yes, my collection of bags.

There is something we love about consumption, and I'm right there in the midst of it. If I could afford it, would I be buying the new Fendi myself? Maybe. Just a little treat to myself, or a celebration for some small accomplishment. The fact is the same whether you're in Barneys New York, in the worst projects anywhere in our nation, or in my very own apartment: justification is easy to find for the purchase of those items just out of our reach.

1 comment:

j o d i e said...

I'm just randomly surfing through blogs and have read some of your posts. I'm 25. I have a friend who works with her husband in the state-run behavior therapy "business". I have so much respect for people like them and for you for doing what you do to improve the lives of people with horrible home lives, and in the general public. Education is an extreme field today too, both here in no-where-land Idaho as well as in NY.