What Do Women Really Carry In Their Handbags?


I once covertly slipped a jacket potato into my sister’s handbag as a joke, expecting her to discover it quickly and confront me. I imagined we’d have a good old laugh over it. But instead, she carried it around with her for weeks before she realised it was in there. In fact, I forgot all about it. Why? Because, like mine, her bag is always so heavy.

Anyone who’s held my bag (while I’ve been temporarily occupied) has been staggered by its weight. ‘But they’re all essentials,’ I insist to stunned looking faces. In my defence, sometimes, if I know it’s going to be a dry day, I do take out my umbrella and pray that Met Office hasn’t got it wrong. But only SOMETIMES, mind. Hardly ever.

Of course, I’m not the only woman who’s prone to heavy-bag-syndrome. Bag hoarding is indisputably a girl thing (although I do have one or two friends, whom I naturally envy, who manage to travel lightly). Just recently, a friend challenged me over the contents of my bag, accusing me of hoarding junk. How very dare he! “I use EVERY item in there,” I protested, “I have a regular sort out and know exactly what’s inside.” He eyed me over his cappuccino cup dubiously but was sensible enough to take my word for it. Only someone with a death wish would delve inside a woman’s handbag. After all, our handbags are sacred, aren’t they? And, apparently, they reveal a lot about us.

However, fuelled by my friend’s remarks, my mind started ticking. Why IS my bag so heavy and do I really need all the items in there?

As an experiment, I asked Joe, my husband, what he thought I carried in my handbag. His answer was:

Sunglasses (Correct! Never go anywhere without my shades)



Umbrella ela ela eh eh eh


Phone (My life support, he knows that)

Make-up (Bit cheeky, but yes)

He did quite well, didn’t he? I was sure his guess what about right. However, once I tipped everything out of my bag I discovered that it contained all of the above PLUS the following:

Two types of painkillers (in case I get a headache whilst shopping)

Reading glasses (tsk, come on, Joe, how will I cope without my bins?)

My Oyster card

Hand sanitation gel (because I’m terrified of catching a virus)

A Nakd Bar (in the event that all shops are closed whilst I’m out and I collapse from starvation)

Chewing gum (come on, everyone carries gum, don’t they?)

Hand tissues (which always end up in the depths of my bag and have to rummage around aimlessly to find, usually to no avail. I then go into a frenzy, securing items under my arms and between knees as I pursue mad tissue hunt).

A bunch of dated receipts from various supermarkets and coffee shops

A gym membership leaflet (from when I was accosted in Muswell Hill by a rep. Gosh, that was months ago – she was so charming that I gave her my phone number then refused to take her calls).

A barber’s business card (??)

An elastic band (well, you never know when you’re going to need one, do you?)

A miniature bottle of perfume (for emergencies)

A bottle of water (to take medication when shopping induced headache kicks in)

So, it seems like my bag is a bit like our understairs cupboard. I just chuck everything in there and forget about it. The only items that see the light of day are the staple ones. Of course, I will be more discerning with what I keep in my bag in the future…..or will I?