When I was a young girl I became obsessed with handbags…or pocket books, as we New Yorkers call them. Whenever my mom would open hers, I always felt it was like a magician’s bag: Lipstick, car keys, money and even band-aids would appear. Not only was this magic handbag full of great ‘stuff,’ but as I grew older, it also seemed to imbue the wearer with a special status, attitude and power. Even then I realized that, like a little boy’s cape, bags give little girls their super power.
Today, when I think about ‘super powers,’ though the context has changed, the egos remain the same. The contents of the bag no longer matter; the magic is in the label. Before the advent of social media, a person’s popularity in the real world was determined by the designer they carried. In the social-sphere, the amount of likes and followers you have also gives you a certain amount of cyber cred — even though, like the bag, it may just be an illusion. In a world where you can fake a bag, likes and followers, the real question is: Who is actually keeping score?
In the streets of New York, you’ll often hear the hawkers whisper, “Gucci, Fendi, Prada,” while waiting for the light to change. Being no fan of the faux, I turned and said, “I have a bag and it’s real.” I don’t know what came over me, but enough was enough. Maybe I had just been in the industry too long, or enjoyed the perks of it for even longer. What many save up for, I had at a discount, and with it, permission: permission to no longer bullshit. Although my bag may not have cost retail, the price I paid was still higher than ‘Sally on the street.’
Maybe the power I found in a handbag was not so different than that of the person inflating their social currency. At the end of the day, we were both trying to be a part of something that everyone envied, and as shallow as it sounds, it’s true.
The magic I thought existed in my mom’s handbag has morphed into social media fame. Numerous people define themselves by the amount of likes and followers they have, not realizing that, just as I bought my own pocketbook, maybe it’s worthwhile to curate an authentic following. Until then, what’s the solution? Buy them, and buy into a life that may not be mine and may not be yours.
With knockoffs (and social media notoriety), there is always a price to pay. You may not always know the story behind the bag, unless you knew they were faking it all along.