Say What? A Disabled Woman’s Defense of Fanny Packs

27 Nov


Keely, after batting around two fanny packs. Some fashionistas would applaud her! Left, a flatter leather model; right, black nylon in a deeper, three-dimensional shape.

The fanny pack is reviled by many in the fashion world, including the excellent Tim Gunn. These critics say the pack interferes with the lines of an ensemble and ruins the wearer’s silhouette. I see their point: a woman walking erect, in pencil skirt or trousers and heels, might appear to cut her body in half or add girth, detracting from her efforts to look and feel her best. However, they are not writing about disabled women. “Silhouette”? Do I even have one?  I hobble with a cane sometimes, or, on good days, walk slowly and a bit “differently.” If my clothes, hair, and makeup look decent, I’m happy. I can’t imagine anyone thinking, “Yowza! That plus-sized, 50-something lady has a wicked-sexy limp! What a turn-on! Oops, I take that back.  She’s wearing a fanny pack, and it just wrecks her silhouette!”

Utility and Security on the Job

I first wore a fanny pack about 20 years ago, when I taught at an inner-city high school. My desk didn’t lock, and there was nowhere else on campus to secure a purse except for my car, which wasn’t too convenient. Where was I to stash my keys, if I wasn’t wearing an outfit with pockets? The fanny pack saved the day, allowing me to safely stow keys, extra whiteboard markers, cash, lipstick, anything I needed. Knowing where my belongings were, I could move freely about the classroom and focus on my job. Interestingly, the only negative comment I received about my fanny pack was from a good friend, long after I had stopped wearing it (my next classroom had a locking file cabinet). My students didn’t seem to notice, although, like most teenagers, they were quick to comment on their teachers’ fashions!

Out and About Hands-Free

Attending sporting events such as dog shows or arena football games also gave me the yen to be hands-free. Maybe I wanted to pet a dog with one hand while holding a Coke in the other, or stand up and cheer without tripping over my purse or worrying about theft. Although the fanny pack works in these contexts, these days I tend to carry more conventional handbags (more about these in an upcoming post). For one thing, my purse is likely to be large enough to hold a water or soda bottle; also, I know the other season ticket holders who sit near me at the Rattlers’ (arena football) games and am therefore unconcerned about the safety of my bag, which fits under my seat. Go Rattlers!

A Decoy Purse?

Let’s face it: Purse snatchers and pick-pockets exist, and the disabled are particularly vulnerable. We can’t run or fight back the way other people might. The fanny pack might be a helpful tool in this situation. A flatter one like the leather pack in the photo could carry your keys, cash and/or credit card–the valuables a thief is after. Wear the fanny pack so it is out of sight under a coat, long sweater or tunic. Then use a purse to carry your other items, such as hairbrush, lip gloss, and  tissues. If someone demands your purse, throw it to him, and move away, yelling. I hope this never happens to you, but who knows? The unfashionable fanny pack may help you save your valuables! As Tim Gunn says in his Fashion Bible, every item has a history and purpose. Perhaps all the fanny pack needs is a little respect and some tweaking in design!


6 Responses to “Say What? A Disabled Woman’s Defense of Fanny Packs”

  1. Carol Fry November 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Good post Sis! Love the first paragraph……funny!

    Sent from an iPad Zonie!

    • desiburger2000 November 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

      Glad you liked it, hon! I may be photographing some of your gifts later!

  2. spashionistareport November 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I’m going to have to agree with Tim on this one.

    I wore these about 10 years ago but stopped because for me they are awkward to maneuver, and disabled people were being injured by robbers trying to cut or pull the pack off of their body, If they want your stuff they are going to take it and I’d rather not get hurt as a bonus.

    There are so many small crossbody options available now that do the job just as well. Besides, you’ve seen the size of my bags, I’d need a Jennifer Lopez sized fanny pack 😉

    • desiburger2000 November 27, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      J Lo-sized…I love it! Completely understandable, Spas. Handbag preferences and needs vary widely; what matters is that you have found something that works for you. On that note, I will touch on across-the-body bags in an upcoming post. Sorry to hear about the robbers in your area, and I hope that has lessened or stopped. As always, thanks for your feedback! Laura

  3. watch new girl online now December 10, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after looking at many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

    • desiburger2000 December 12, 2012 at 3:14 am #

      I’m glad you found it! Welcome, and check back as frequently as you like: I hope you find what you need here! Laura

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