My shoulder hurts, and I know absolutely why: my Madewell Transport Tote in black leather, which looks pretty good but, if I’m honest, I hate it, and not just in a low-key way, but with a radiating physical resentment.
By the time it’s loaded with my reusable water bottle, charger brick, ten lipsticks that I always carry around for no good reason, and at least a few ounces of CVS receipts, this bag is heavy. If I’m on the go, I know the whole day will be spent moving it awkwardly from shoulder to shoulder, with occasional shifts in the crook of my arm for gentle, gentle relief. I wear it, of course, because it fits most outfits and looks decidedly more “professional” than other bags… And also because I’m a stupid bitch desperate to fit in.
You can’t drop a poppy seed from a bagel while in Brooklyn without hitting a tote. Free bins from PR packages in the corners of my apartment; bins are hung on the arms of half of the metro car; the cabinet under my kitchen sink is so full of them that I’m sometimes afraid to open it; and every independent artist I want to support makes, alas, a catch-all. It’s the collective catch-all scam. We do it because everyone is.
But what are we buying from when we go for a tote? The inevitable aches and pains aside, the tote, in its cheaper and more common versions, is often fully open on the top, leaving you vulnerable to pickpockets. Try bringing home a heavy load of groceries in a tote, and if you’re little like me you’ll find – when you hold its suspenders in your hand and not over your shoulder – that most bags don’t. weren’t designed for those of us with short legs because the canvas bottom of the bag scratches against the poo-covered streets. As for the structured bottomless bags, well, good luck finding your wallet in this mess.
The media world admittedly loves its island-circle jerks, and this is perhaps best exemplified by its heinous respect for the catch-all. I am of the opinion that the promotion of the tote is the worst “fake news” that is peddled. Take, for example, the recent “The best multimedia bins, ranked,” Where Enjoy your meal‘s horoscope-esque “What does your restaurant tote say about you?“
In every room, the tote is a substitute for being in the know. “Yes after Enjoy your meal called Portland the country best food town, I took a trip to Maine, “suggests a tote from Rose food, while a bag of NPR shows how supportive you are for the arts by supporting public broadcasting. Last year, New York magazine literally led a roundup titled “The coveted tote bags that scream ‘status’.“The tote is like the rich wearing Carhartt work clothes: it’s a way of signaling that you are like the proletariat when you actually have enough disposable income for a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag or whatever. .
Of course, I understand the practicality of the tote from a business perspective. They are inexpensive and apparently easy to print. But you know what else fits that description? A T-shirt. The Tote is a collective discomfort scam that we endure for status reasons, and it needs to be stopped – we are swelling the pockets of chiropractors and massage therapists all over the place with this silly flex of printed fabric.
There is of course an alternative to the shopping bag, in the name of which I will constantly proselytize: the backpack, and more precisely, the bike backpack, on which I once tried to take home an entire Ikea coffee table by bike. (It was the Lack table, and I made it about a mile.) However, for people who don’t identify as male, you may have to grit your teeth through the really damn phrase “backpack lady. “But it’s okay, because you can at least feel the benefits of the feature. and comfort.
The best tote is a free tote, and even then it belongs in the trash.
Follow Bettina Makalintal on Twitter for more tote.