To use purses or backpacks?


Penelope De Soto ’24 said, “I like how [my bag] doesn’t have a zipper and I can just easily access the things in there. I also don’t like how backpacks feel on my back.” Graphic by: Belen Hibbler

Why do some students use purses over backpacks at school?

Kids have brought backpacks to school with them since the late 1940s, are they still just as popular today? In a Time article “A Brief History of the Modern Backpack,” between the 1930s and 1960s, students began to carry canvas or leather bags that were single-strapped, more commonly referred to now as purses. It has grown in popularity for students at VHS to use purses rather than carrying backpacks. Usually, the purse is carried with a binder or Chromebook in hand, or sometimes just all by itself. It leaves some speculation as to where the rest of their school supplies go and why they don’t just carry a backpack. How do they carry their things, and what is the appeal of using purses and shoulder bags? 

Penelope De Soto ‘24 said, “I alternate notebooks and notepads based on my block periods, so I have a notebook for two four six [days] and then one three five [days].” 

Since VHS has implemented the block schedule, lots of students don’t feel the need to carry all of their supplies every day, so they have a lighter load. Being able to carry only a few books for a few classes per day as opposed to six or seven classes a day gives students more liberty to choose how they’ll carry their things.

Ruvalcaba has been using a purse for about two years. She said, “I just carry [my books] in my hands, you know?” Graphic by: Julian Martinez
People enjoy backpacks because of the diversity of their styles, colors and shapes. Purses offer the same amount of diversity and can be unique to each person that wears them too. Although at school they serve the same purpose, for school supply storage, purses usually are immensely smaller. 

“[My purse] is very cute and I don’t have to carry much around,” said Jocelyn Matehuala ‘26.

In NBC News’ article “Why Our Bags are Wrecking Our Backs,” Vivian Manning-Schaffel

dives deep into the negatives of both the backpack and one strapped purse on our backs, but they say the main reason is that most are overstuffing them. The very reason some students use one-strap bags besides backpacks at school is because of the lack of pain they experience. 

Andrea Ruvalcaba ‘23 said, “Backpacks hurt my back and [my purse] is lighter. I have no back pain with a purse.” 

“[I’ve been using a tote bag] for two years now. I think I experience less back pain, only because of the way I alternate my books,” said De Soto.