Style Observer

In The Bag — The 'More Shoes' Handbag — Josina Jackson

By Josina Jackson

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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“M ummy, would you carry this for me, please?” was my frequent request during my teenage years, as the audible sigh of exasperation could be heard escaping my mother, indicating her utter frustration at my pointed refusal to carry a handbag.

I loathed the thought of having to carry a handbag. It was a cumbersome appendage, an object that would occupy a hand that could otherwise be used for some other purpose.

As I grew older and became more independent, personal items that were once thrust upon my mother to occupy space in her handbag now had to fit into the pockets of my clothing. House keys. Money. Lip balm. No, no, no … no cellphone in those days!

I eventually outgrew my pockets and, yes, there was now the need for a handbag. This was an exploration into a new world. A world in which the handbag is an alluring combination of functionality and sophistication all in one. A world in which the handbag is a seductress, as she tempts you with her appealing colour, her adequate size, her shapely form and her accent pieces, distinguishing her from all others.

The handbag is beguiling, concealing and revealing. The handbag is an extension of a woman's physical being, a vault that houses so much that reveals who she is as an individual. Her handbag is an intimate part of her, concealing the contents that one shrouded in mystery as her handbag is her confidant, her keeper of secrets.

The handbag mirrors life. Intricately cut pieces of fabric or leather meticulously sewn together to create something beautiful with an intended purpose. With time and wear, the fabric becomes faded and frayed or the leather softens with natural creases and lines. This is what gives the handbag character and makes it unique.

We are individuals, intricate by nature, blessed with a gift, talent or skill to fulfil our intended purpose. With time, as we line our life on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, we have exhilarating experiences, encounter challenges, make mistakes and celebrate triumphs. These are the things that give us character, that make us unique. We have our stories to reveal, we have our secrets to conceal. We are like a handbag.

Three years ago, my mother entered my bedroom, her toned little arms outstretched with something wrapped in tissue paper balanced in both hands. She looked very pleased with herself, as she said “This is for you.” I gently removed the tissue paper, eyes fixed on my mother's face, only glancing down fleetingly to see what the gift was. It was a metal handbag adorned with shoes and inscribed with the words “More Shoes.”

I registered the glint in my mother's eyes, her pride at having chosen a gift that was appropriate in more ways than one, the crease of her warm smile hid her relief at no longer having to carry my stuff in her handbag.

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