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What Kids' Backpacks Say About Them

By The Atlantic

These bags are one of the most constant material items in a kid’s life, and they serve as both status symbols and intimate companionsRead full story

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  • It's hard to overstate how important a backpack is as an outward expression of a kid's place in the social hierarchy — and how long-lasting the effects of that ordering. When I started attending this posh private school as a scholarship/financial aid student in the sixth grade, I was acutely aware — every. day. — that my older, off-the-rack backpack screamed "poor kid!" in a crowd full of pricier, more elegant, customized LL Bean bags. To this day, I can't look at one of those monogramed LL Bean

    It's hard to overstate how important a backpack is as an outward expression of a kid's place in the social hierarchy — and how long-lasting the effects of that ordering. When I started attending this posh private school as a scholarship/financial aid student in the sixth grade, I was acutely aware — every. day. — that my older, off-the-rack backpack screamed "poor kid!" in a crowd full of pricier, more elegant, customized LL Bean bags. To this day, I can't look at one of those monogramed LL Bean backpacks without a potent, visceral mix of queasiness, disgust, and envy.

  • Greg Vetter
    Greg VetterCEO at Tessemae’s

    I was a “two strapper” in the 90’s and feel like I set the stage for a mid 2000’s shift of two strapping cultural dominance. I cared too much about not getting scoliosis for the one strap.

  • Whitney Gallagher
    Whitney Gallagher

    I missed the L.L. Bean backpack craze as I was a kid in the late 90’s early 00’s wear Jansport reigned supreme. I only barely remember buying a backpack before the school year started sometime in middle school but rarely or never using it due to the fact of my close proximity to both my elementary and then middle school (short walking distance). I utilized my locker in middle school and only carried home my assignments for the night. I feel a little left out as an adult, I admire all ofthe backpack

    I missed the L.L. Bean backpack craze as I was a kid in the late 90’s early 00’s wear Jansport reigned supreme. I only barely remember buying a backpack before the school year started sometime in middle school but rarely or never using it due to the fact of my close proximity to both my elementary and then middle school (short walking distance). I utilized my locker in middle school and only carried home my assignments for the night. I feel a little left out as an adult, I admire all ofthe backpack options (for adulting, travel, etc.) and wish I knew better.

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