Monday, August 31, 2009

Fanny Packs

Fanny pack. Bum bag. Hip pack. No matter what you called it, if you grew up in the 90s it's likely that you or one of your camera-toting tourist family members was guilty of owning one. No matter which attraction-filled city you happened to occupy, if there were sights to be seen then a full family sporting a rainbow of fanny pack styles and colors couldn't be far behind.

To be fair, fanny packs were indeed functional clothing. They gave a whole new and deeper meaning to the phrase "Look Ma, no hands!" That's right, it was the original hands-free style. A decade before all of those bluetooth-wearing tools were out tooling it up in their tool sheds, they roamed the streets with an earlier prototype. It was the ultimate choice of function over form. There will always be a sizable contingency out there who swears that aesthetics are irrelevant in making wardrobe selections. I respect if you are one of those people. Well, so long as you recognize that you are totally, completely, consummately wrong. A small concession, really, in allowing you to still wear a pack on your fanny. Because honestly. That's ridiculous.

People seemed generally unperturbed by the notion of adding an oddly-shaped zippered lump to their, ahem, private region. You know, what Jack Donaghy would call it your "swimsuit area". It's certainly worthy of further examination as suspicious behavior. Who knows what you're hiding behind there? Never mind, I don't want to know. Just promise me you'll never unzip it in my presence.

Whether it was a class trip or family vacation, fanny packs became inexplicable storage staples of our 90s wardrobes. I suppose the concept makes some sense, as carrying a backpack or a back-pocket waller inevitably leads to Oliver Twist style pick-pocketry. After all, it's an important lesson to teach kids. Trust no one. Everyone is out to get you at all times and are probably after your soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich and your souvenir I Heart NY keychain. Thieves go crazy for that stuff. Really. It drives them wild.

As someone whose parents made her buy one of those under-the-shirt necklace-style passport holders for her first trip abroad, I can certainly appreciate your desire to protect your personal belongings. Or, at the very least, your parents' desire for you to do so. It was more the placement of the accessory that I took issue with. It is universally unflattering, and thus should be shunned by all.

Don't get me wrong. I owned a fanny pack. Oh yeah. A bright, multi-color masterpiece with numerous compartments and zip closures. It clicked together with that satisfying snap! every time I fastened it to my waist and it was pure perfection. My lower waist area had never looked so ornamental. I loved that thing. Really, I did. I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Okay, well I'm not that embarrassed. Well I admitted it, didn't I? That should at least count for something.

At the very least, these things were versatile in their styling. We all knew the different fanny pack methodology to maximize our 90s look. Your fanny packing style* said quite a bit about your personal character. Wear it to the front and we knew you were a straightforward kind of guy, a no-frills, no-muss no-fuss person simply looking for a bodily-latched vessel to transport their keys.

Please do not purchase this. Seriously. I'm looking at you. Don't encourage others.

Wear it to the side, however, and we knew you were sort of, well, a gangster. In the way only fanny pack wearers can be. That is to say, you were most likely white, middle class, and reared in suburbia but dammit you loved rap videos and there was nothing anyone could do to stop you. It usually meant your parents weren't willing to risk their block party reputation by buying you some crazy colored hat you could leave the tags dangling on, but they were willing to spring for an educational trip to Washington DC. Hey, it's some consolation, isn't it?

The most perplexing wearers, however, were those that wore it slung to the back. Yes, I can understand if you're riding a bike** it may be a sort of useful positioning, but it's generally inexcusable as street wear. That is to say, the main argument for wearing a fanny pack tends to fall in the keep-people-from-stealing-your-stuff category. Your rebel without a cause devil-may-care fanny pack attitude is not ironic, it just shows that you're an irresponsible fanny pack wearer certain to fall victim to identity theft. Either that, or you're really, really embarrassed and are trying to convince everyone who meets you from the front that it's just a belt. Those of us who can see you from the back though, we know the truth. You can rotate but you can't hide.

Unfortunately, this was not the last we saw of fanny packs. Certain designers (I'm looking at you, Gucci) felt it necessary to revive the so-called fashion statement in the last few years, releasing an alleged "belt bag" that was nothing more than a glorified logo-emblazoned fanny pack. We're onto your tricks, high-end designers, and we're not going to fall for them. Either make a belt or make a bag, for for all our retina's sake, don't try for both.

Don't even think about it.

*I beg you to just let the double entendre go. Really. I recognize it too, and it is mildly hilarious. But let's all be adults here. Right?

**I mean you, not me. I will never ride a bike again. I loathe bikes for their cruel bone-breaking antics, and I believe fanny packs as cycling gear to be the just and rightful punishment for their menacing society. Not just for breaking my ankle, but also for acting like you're a car when I'm trying to drive in my actual car. I don't care if you're wearing neon spandex, you don't belong in my turn lane. Did I mention I'm not a big bike fan? I appreciate you reading this tiny, italicized rant. Now go strap on your fanny pack, bike boy.


Mr. Condescending said...

I hate seeing these still haha.

Did you know "fanny" means something totally innapropriate in england and australia.

Nic said...

Mr C is right, over here fanny means...the front one. So we called it a bum bag.

I had a few as a child. Obviously in bright 90s neon colours. I was the epitome of cool. In my mind, anyway.

But people that still wear them now make me want to make an L shape with my fingers and hold it to my forehead.

Sunshinemeg said...

A fanny pack + a pair of "mom jeans" = one foxy lady. Ha! Love it.

Nic said...

I must admit though, I like that Gucci belt-bag.

Warren said...

I had a super bright orange one. It was SO 90s.

Lora said...

I was just talking about these yesterday. They are freaking EVERYWHERE!

Now, I know I live in a touristy town, but come on!! I'm so sick of seeing these!

Carol said...

I had a hot pink one that I just loved!!

Freck said...

I love this. Memories of the days my parents used to sport these are flooding back..ohhh mannn.

lovelila said...

Haha, when my family went to Disney World in '92, everyone was equipped with a fanny pack! I was six, I didn't know any better!

sharonluvscats said...

My mom uses a fanny pack. We make fun of her for it!

Tracy-Girl said...

My mom still uses a fanny pack and for some reason, my entire family things its the funniest thing ever. Poor thing always gets made fun of when we go on family vacations, now I think she does it in spite of us :)

Hanako66 said...

haha so bad.

I saw a lady rockin' the FP last night at a pizza place

Irwin Esq said...

Oh hahahhaha!! I remember being so excited my mom got me a hot pink fanny pack in 1991 and let me take it to summer camp, wish I still had that thing, would be great for costume parties!!

Andhari said...

No matter how you wear it, they never really look flattering, do they?

I cringe whenever my parents told me to wear it even when I was a kid LOl

Sadako said...

Is that SJP picture real? It's horrid.

Kristen said...

oh fanny packs were amazing for trips to disney world! held my money AND my autograph book!!

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