Umbrellas Are a Sham

The only good thing umbrellas ever did was inspire "Umbrella" by Rihanna.

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s Thanksgiving, which means you’re probably about to hear some terrible political opinions. As a refreshing palate-cleanser, every day this week the editors of Marie Claire will be sharing their most tightly-held unpopular opinions on a range of decidedly non-political subjects—in case you need something more interesting to fight about at dinner.

Write this on my tombstone: We need to talk about the social stigma of not carrying an umbrella.

"Do you have an umbrella?" No, I don't. "Where's your umbrella?" It doesn't exist. "Do you want to borrow my umbrella?" I absolutely do not. I choose to live without an umbrella weighing me down, and I'm tired of being shamed for it.

And no, it's not because umbrellas are poorly designed and likely to break at any moment. It's not because opening them indoors is bad luck and opening them at all is incredibly frustrating. It's because the umbrella industrial complex, or something, has tricked us all into believing that a pole with a sheet of fabric on top is an effective way to stay dry in a downpour. It's because I refuse to be a Sheep.

It's also because I'm notoriously clumsy and kept poking strangers in the eye with spokes when I tried to use an umbrella—and, by God, I tried!—but, anyway. I digress.

There are two types of rain. I don't know what the fancy ~meteorologist~ terms for them are, but I'm going to name them Rain You Can Handle and Rain You Really, Really Can't.

Rain You Can Handle is tropical rain, a light drizzle, a gentle spitting, a soft tickling of rain droplets. I don't want to brag about being from England, but, being from England, I am more familiar than most with this variety of weather. You can get groceries in Rain You Can Handle. You can walk the dog. Some days, you'll barely even notice it's raining.

Rain You Really, Really Can't, meanwhile, is what you Americans call a "rainstorm." A downpour. A hideous, hair-drenching deluge that leaves you as wet and cold as if you'd jumped into the sea in England, where I am from. Typically quite brief, this kind of rain leaves you huddling under shop awnings and hopping over flooded sidewalks.

In Rain You Can Handle, you don't need an umbrella. In Rain You Really, Really Can't, nothing you do is going to keep you dry. Actually, go ahead, you can put that on my tombstone.

I do understand that I've blown your mind here. That your belief system about being a human with an umbrella in the rain, about being a human in the rain, about simply being a human, has been shattered. So I've compiled a batch of frequently asked questions I expect to receive, in my new career as an Umbrella Truther and the administrator of r/wetpill, and took the liberty of answering them.


(Image credit: Archives)

If an umbrella won't keep me dry, what will?

Nothing. Rain is akin to Life. When you step outside in it and it comes at you with full force, nothing can keep you dry. This "umbrella" you speak of may protect part of your head, but, as with Life, rain can and will come at you side-on. And your feet will still get really wet.

But what about my hair?

A good question. Fortunately, capitalism has come up with a fantastic invention called a rain jacket with a hood. Wear one.

Will writing this get you in hot water with the corporate goons of Big Umbrella? If so, what will they do to you?

That, I do not know.

Please know I did this for you.

Jenny Hollander
Digital Director

Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. A graduate of Leeds University, and a native of London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the first intern at Bustle when it launched in 2013, and spent five years building out its news and politics department. In 2018 she joined Marie Claire, where she held the roles of Deputy Digital Editor and Director of Content Strategy before becoming Digital Director. Working closely with Marie Claire's exceptional editorial, audience, commercial, and e-commerce teams, Jenny oversees the brand's digital arm, with an emphasis on driving readership. When she isn't editing or knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can find Jenny writing about television, celebrities, her lifelong hate of umbrellas, or (most likely) her dog, Captain. In her spare time, she also writes fiction: her first novel, the thriller EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, was published with Minotaur Books (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in February 2024 and became a USA Today bestseller. She has also written extensively about developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia, which she was diagnosed with when she was nine. She is currently working on her second novel.