In partnership with Nina Ricci

Are Handbags Actually A Metaphor For Self-Acceptance?

In partnership with Nina Ricci. 

I have publicly renounced handbags at least six times in the past. Not using them, I have surmised, can make you a woman of mystery and severe dexterity — to compartmentalize, to edit, to take only what you need and bravely discard what you don’t. Forgoing them was a suggestive nod towards essentialism before Marie Kondo and the era of self-improvement hurricane-d through our bookshelves and left nothing but a pocket-duster and some Tony Robbins-authored literature to show for it.

Now that I’m older, though — and not wiser, but certainly more realistic — I know the truth. I’m no longer falsely optimistic about how few things I need and in trying to be more compassionate with myself, I’ve entered the stage of acceptance. This acceptance has given me the following mantra: While I might not always have a lot of stuff, right now I do. And that’s okay! So instead of attempting to become the woman I think I want to be, why not feel proud of the woman I am now? She’s cool — and has a lot of stuff. So what?

That leaves me here, at the intersection of handbag and person, contemplating an outfit accessory that feels so new. New in the same way a first date does. It’s the punctuation that ends a fabric sentence. That demarcates excitement from inquisition. Diligence from caprice. Honesty and acknowledgement from unfounded (and frankly useless) idealism!

There is so much room for creative license here: one day said bag could be straw, the next, canvas. Today, it’s green and python and a member of the modern family that Guillame Henry of Nina Ricci is assembling in real time. Inside of it there is:

+One candle I plan to give to my grandmother as a gift when I see her after work

+An iPhone case she told me she wanted, too (Having lots of stuff also allows me to be thoughtful!)

+A notebook with a list of to-do’s that are in the process of being checked off (And more efficient!)

+Three different packs of sugary gum (Granted, I have bad habits.)

+A leopard print scarf should I decide I want to tie it into my hair (I already know I do.)

+A pair of funky white sunglasses (You know the ones!)


+Flat slides (I’m wearing wedges; you never know.)

+Three fabric bracelets

Not in my bag are a wallet, keys or my phone. I’m actually not sure where any of those things are, so… yeah, I have to go. But you get the point, right? Bags aren’t just bags if you don’t want them to be. They’re a marker of positive change! Identity acceptance! Self love and all.

Featuring the Nina Ricci Irrisor bag. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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