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Auntie SparkNotes: My Rolling Backpack Is Humiliating

Auntie SparkNotes: My Rolling Backpack Is Humiliating

Hey Auntie!!
As a high school student, I seek acceptance. In other words, I want to be cool. Here's the thing: I have tendonitis in my upper back and arms, so carrying a normal bag full of books for school is very unhealthy for me. My dad, therefore, decided that the best course of action to take would be for me to have a rolley backpack.

"It's so irresponsible of me not to have made this happen during earlier years; I have been ruining your back," he says.

OK, thought I, this is perfectly reasonable, as much as I detest rolley backpacks. The worst part is, my father is the biggest cheapskate alive and refuses to go out and buy (and does not allow me to either with my own money) a semi-ordinary looking rolley-backpack that looks like a backpack. Instead, he insists that I use one of the small travel suitcases that we have in the house.

UGH, omg omgomgogmomgomg. First of all, not only are suitcases posing as rolley backpacks desperately uncool, but in my opinion there is nothing more obnoxious-looking than a rolley backpack. Seriously, rolley backpacks just emit an aura of pure repugnance. I do not want to be perceived in that way.

I must have you know, Auntie, that I agree with my dad that a rolley backpack is the wisest thing to do, as much as I seriously don't want to be seen with one. My problem is that I need to get over myself, but I am just so deeply mortified. Help!

Well, for starters, you can take heart: there are actually plenty of things that are infinitely more obnoxious-looking and uncool than a rolley backpack. For instance:

-Face tattoos
-Mullet skirts
-Mullet hair
-Mullet anything
-Shirts that say things like "I'm too pretty to do homework"
-Socks with sandals
-Thong whale-tail
-Literally everything that is happening in this picture

...and oh, I could go on. But the point is, Sparkler, it could be worse! And unlike all of the above, which are both hideous and unnecessary, your rolling backpack is there for a legitimate reason. It's like a walking cast or a back brace: even if it looks really, really dumb (and yes, okay, they're not exactly stylish), the unfortunate aesthetics are way outweighed by the benefits of protecting your body.

But when protecting your body is the priority, there really isn't any reason why you should have to protect it not just by having a rolling backpack, but by having the world's most conspicuously ridiculous-looking rolling backpack that is not even a backpack at all—just as a person required to wear orthodontic headgear shouldn't have to attach a jerry-rigged contraption of rubber bands and chicken wire to her face just because the real thing is expensive. If you've got to be visibly different from your peers, you should at least get to look like a freak on your own terms. (Not that a rolling backpack makes you look like a freak, but you know.)

Which should be self-evident, really, to anyone who is or has ever been a teenage human being... but apparently your father is one of those people who's managed to block out the memory of how actually agonizing it is to feel like you're walking around at high school with a giant flashing sign over your head that says, "I'm a total dork."

So, try this: approach your dad at a calm moment and explain that, while you are fully on board with using a rolling backpack for the good of your health, you want to at least have some say in what that backpack looks like. In your own words: "Using a suitcase as a backpack is embarrassing to me, especially when having a rolling backpack already makes me stick out. Since I have to have a backpack on wheels, I at least want that backpack to be something I'm comfortable with and that doesn't draw extra negative attention."

And if that doesn't sway him, you might ask your dad to think about how he'd feel if, say, he needed a briefcase for work—and rather than letting him buy something appropriate, your mother dragged this out of the closet and insisted that he use it.

And hopefully, that will put this nonsense to a reasonable and long-overdue end. (Although if it doesn't, nobody would blame you for going rogue and using your own money—which is yours, after all—to buy something you can stand to be seen with every day.) Because really, this isn't about whether or not a rolling backpack is the height of aesthetic horrors, or about you being a shallow person who needs to get over herself; it's about having a tiny bit of comfort and control in a situation that's mostly out of your hands. You deserve that, and it doesn't make you shallow or acceptance-seeking to ask for it.

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Topics: Advice
Tags: parents, auntie sparknotes, backpacks, dads, embarrassing situations

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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