It’s 4 p.m. and you’ve returned to your room. Your back is aching, your shoulder is sore and now you get the privilege of digging through your seemingly endless stack of books only to discover that there is one more you need to shove in your bag to lug on your trip to the library.
To those lucky few who only have a notebook to carry, that trip is just a short walk from the residence halls, but for others carrying a shoulder bag full of heavy textbooks, it is a daunting journey that results in an uneven frame and requires a great deal of strength and endurance.
Chosen mostly for their stylish appearance, shoulder bags are usually worn by girls and come in an array of different styles, shapes and colors.
“Girls want to be stylish and wear a shoulder bag, but it’s just become a big inconvenience,” said Lauren Hammond, a sophomore majoring in political science at Binghamton University, who just made the switch from a shoulder bag to a backpack.
Shoulder bags are getting bigger these days and the bigger the bags, the more that people will carry in them. This makes it feasible to use one for school.
According to a British newspaper, the Daily Mail, “A trend for bigger bags is occurring. The burden on a woman’s shoulder has increased by 38 percent in the past five years.”
While the appeal of fashion may be hard to overcome for some, the weight of these bags can really be detrimental to a woman’s health.
The Daily Mail issued a warning that regularly carrying around 5 pounds in a bag is not conducive to good health. While such a heavy bag may not have immediate repercussions, it can have a cumulative effect on body posture and may cause back strain.
According to a report written by Kevin Slates, director of occupational health and safety laboratory at Indiana University Bloomington, a load of books or materials needs to be distributed evenly to eliminate stress on a growing spinal column and back.
Some BU students are starting to realize this risk and make the switch to backpacks themselves.
“Basically I carry so much stuff during the day — textbooks for different classes and my computer — it just made more sense to carry a backpack,” Hammond said. “[Also], one of my good friends has the same issue. She always says how she should get a backpack because her bag is bothering her shoulder and she can’t walk across campus.”
According to Mallory Wool, an undeclared sophomore, safety and health should be the student’s first priority, and the style of the bag should come second.
“I love my bag, but if it ever got too heavy I wouldn’t be concerned about making the switch,” Wool said.
For the hardworking students at BU this seems to be a common opinion, and comfort is more of a priority.
“It is pretty much accepted on campus that everyone is carrying tons of stuff and no one really cares what your backpack looks like,” Hammond said.
For girls who want to keep the look of their shoulder bag, there are some preventative measures they can take to avoid the pain.
According to www.WebMD.com, one can alternate the bag between shoulders, or choose a bag with wider straps to help distribute the weight over a broader area of the shoulder.
Switching to a backpack doesn’t have to result in flushing one’s sense of style down the toilet.
“If you have to carry a lot of stuff, you could invest in a very fashionable backpack. I got mine at Kohl’s for $15 and I love it,” Hammond said.