Here’s Something I Like (Not that Anyone Asked): Fanny Packs

Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!

Am I wearing it right?

Somehow over the course of the last two years, I’ve become a professional dog walker. LOL. It happened by accident. I left a full-time job and struggled to cobble together freelance work, so when my unemployment (I love the government!) ran out, I needed money. I decided to get on Rover and dog sit for a little extra cash. A year and a half later I have, um, built a…business? Haha. Whoops!

Even though I’m working hard for the money, people don’t exactly find it impressive when a thirty-something (shh!) woman says she walks dogs for a living, and I’m not enough of an asshole to brag about how I’ve successfully escaped the corporate world and found another source of income that allows me to focus on my creative endeavors (until now!).

Not only is dog walking unimpressive, it’s also hard, both physically and emotionally, the latter because I’m the kind of psycho who gets attached to the dogs immediately and loves them with all my heart, which is draining the former because the job involves a lot of biking (cardio blast), climbing stairs (legs and glutes), walking (cardio blast) and haranguing strong dogs with minds of their own (arms, core, back and shoulders). Walking dogs is so strenuous that it should be offered as an exercise class, but instead of getting paid for their services, participants should pay the instructor (me) $35 per session. I’m filing this away as my next business idea.

Perhaps the greatest challenge of the job is that, and this may come as a surprise, I can’t control the weather, and thus am subjected to its extremes. Right now, for example, it’s so fucking hot that I think I might be melting. Winters are also difficult — I’ve trudged through many a snowstorm, practically dragging unwilling Yorkshire Terriers behind me down the sidewalks of Brooklyn, but the heat is harder on my body. It sneaks up on me until, before I know it, I’m collapsing in the shade right in between my panting Brittany Beagle and my wheezing Shorkie, their tongues hanging out of their mouths, dripping saliva on my reddened face. We suffer together — we survive together.

I walk dogs in the middle of the day, when the sun is highest in the sky and shade is harder to find than free poop bags. We broil. As such, I’ve become accustomed to wearing as little clothing as I can while working without being arrested for indecent exposure. I’m talking bodysuits with shorts, muscle tanks with shorts, sports bras with shorts (always these shorts, purchased on sale) and the one accessory I never leave home in the heat without: my fanny pack.

I bought a fanny pack the second I realized the fashion gods would allow it at the beginning of last summer. Though I briefly flirted with the idea of getting a leather one (several brands are making little clutch-inspired purses that can be worn as “bum bags”), I decided to go basic, especially when I realized a classic Jansport fanny pack costs only $17!

It’s the best $17 I’ve spent in the last five years. I wear this thing constantly. I fasten it around my waist and throw all of my essentials in when I’m going for a run, hopping on my bike for a night out and, of course, walking dogs. One clip and I’m ready to hit the streets, hands and shoulders free (side note: if you’re strapping a fanny pack over your shoulder and across your back, you’re missing the point. Also, you look like a douche).

Some are lamenting the return of the fanny pack, insisting it’s a fashion faux pas, but when it’s this functional, who cares? Why carry a bag when you can wear one? Perhaps I feel this way because I personally hate carrying a purse (I’ve even been known to tear up a dance floor while wearing a backpack), but does anyone actually like carrying a purse? Purses are symbolic of the great burden of womanhood. Unlike men, we come with accessories, for which we are responsible. This is another reason I love my fanny pack: because it’s so small, I don’t have the option of packing for an afternoon matinee as if I’m heading out of town for the weekend. Your fanny pack may not make the for the most interesting What’s in My Bag? but you’ll be surprised how much you can cram in there. Sure, I can’t fit my water bottle, but do I really need my water bottle? (I really need my water bottle. It’s hot.)

My mother, who was never concerned with or even aware of trends, often wore a fanny pack when it both was and wasn’t in style. We should all take a cue from her. While I’m glad they’re currently en vogue, I hope I’m brave enough to keep wearing mine long after they once again become passé, and even long after I (hopefully) find another source of income and can stop walking dogs for a living. Dogs aside, my pack makes my life easier.

Unlike a purse, my Jansport puts no strain on my back, but instead rests gently on my ample behind, floating just above the male gaze, and perhaps just below the more discerning female gaze, which might suggest that if I’m going to wear a fanny pack, it should at least be Chanel. (They call them “waist bags” and charge between $3,000 – $5,000 for the privilege of sporting their label. Imagine if I wore a Chanel waist bag while walking dogs. LOL!) Purses are so often status symbols, especially if you can afford the really fancy ones (Hermes, for example, regularly prices their bags at $10,000), but the humble nylon fanny pack frees us from this tyranny.

The older I get (I’m still so young!), the less I care about appearances, or rather, the less I care about certain kinds of appearances. I’m as obsessed as ever with having a fresh face and a tight bod, but am letting go of the age old female tradition of trying to seem perfect. Sure I used to “have a job” and now I “pick up shit for a living,” and true I “dress like a teenager” and “not even a popular one,” but I’m much happier than I was when I wore Ann Taylor and carried a giant leather tote to my impressive corporate job. Gap athletic shorts and a fanny pack may not be the attire of a successful career woman, but may instead be the uniform of a woman creeping slowly toward career fulfillment.

So reject the establishment, ladies! Or rather, embrace it right now, since fanny packs are trendy, but reject it in a year or two, when they’re once again considered the surest sign of a woman who’s lost touch with what the cool kids are wearing. The cool kids aren’t actually cool (nothing is less cool than trying to fit in, except trying not to fit in), but you know what is? Function and comfort. Fanny packs may be as unglamorous as walking dogs for a living but, like my current occupation, they serve a purpose. They provide.

As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares about my fanny pack. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, fanny pack or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!

Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!


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