Ready, Aim… Accessorize

posted Tuesday January 8th, 2013

Naming it was hard. There were so many choices. My first thought was “Guns as Roses,” or “Guns ‘n Poses,” then “Pistol Whipped.” “Project Gunway.” “Put a Gun on It.” In the end, it was “Gun Show.”

“Gun Show” was taken on Instagram (why was I surprised?) so after some trial and error, it’s “2013 Gun Show.” Which is fitting, since I started last week, on New Year’s Day. Really, it started a few days before that. I was leaving my favorite nail salon — a sweet little spot in a nice part of town, not one of those cheapie walk-in places but not as expensive as a full-on spa, with sparkly tiles, complimentary iced tea and classic movies playing on a loop — when I noticed it on a display by the door: a tiny, rhinestone-encrusted gun pendant, hanging below a necklace that spelled out LOVE.

I felt myself flinch.

If it had been there on my previous visits, I hadn’t noticed it — and I know why. Newtown was a tipping point, even for a gun loather like me. That’s not fair. Today is the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting — which literally hit close to home — and I ask myself, “Why didn’t I notice things like rhinestone-encrusted gun pendants after that?” I don’t know why. I didn’t. I should have. We all should have — as it turns out, Newtown seems to have been a tipping point for a lot of people.

Let’s hope so, anyway. Before Newtown I didn’t notice things like rhinestone-encrusted gun pendants, but now I do. And so I decided to embark on a little project for 2013: Gun Show. Almost immediately, someone sent me the URL to a tumblr site devoted entirely to photographs of “cute guns” — pink revolvers, pink and black camouflaged rifles. You know, cute guns. That’s not quite what I’m going for here. Look, I get that a lot of people out there want to hold onto the right to bear arms — no matter how I feel about it. I get it. (I don’t like it, I want to change it, but I get it.)

But what does it say about this country that so many people in it choose to accessorize with guns? Owls, peace signs, mustaches, bicycles, hedgehogs — all cool, fun expressions of one’s personality and preferences. Guns? Not for me. And I have to ask, why for you? I can understand sleeping with a gun under your pillow. But sleeping with your head on a pink pillow with a gun embroidered on it? Yep, you can get one on Etsy.

WHY?

When it comes to safety, I suppose it’s safer to sleep with the embroidered version. But that’s not the point. I don’t feel safe in a world that tosses deadly weaponry around with such abandon, literal or figurative. I hate that I’m so numb to it that it took me so long to realize it was all over. After the nail salon I spent some time looking for other examples and quickly came up with way more than I expected — possibly enough to fill every day of an entire year, though I don’t intend to force myself to do this every day. Most days.

A week in, it’s already working — making me more aware of what we fetishize in this society, what we put on a pedestal. Or hang from our ears.

Self righteous and preachy? Totally. But hey, it’s a free country. You have the right to bear arms, both rhinestoned and otherwise. And I have the right to tell you what I think of it.

If you’re on Instagram and you want to see the project, follow @2013gunshow. And I’d love to see any examples you find. Trust me — you’ll find them, whether you want to or not.

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Tags: Filed under: culture by Amysilverman

3 Responses to “Ready, Aim… Accessorize”

  1. I totally agree with you on the serious side of this post. But my sick and twisted mind immediately went to Marriage/Love and Gun/Divorce!

  2. you might find Shelley Calton’s work interesting:
    http://www.shelleycalton.com/licensedtocarry.html

    It is a photo essay on women who carry guns.

    She also did a fun book (with my mom) about Roller Derby Women that you might also get a kick out of (but totally unrelated to the gun issues here).

  3. I come from a place where there you can’t carry weapons, so I’m very ignorant of the US culture, but I do know gun lovers.

    They love the skill of being a good shot. Some love killing their own food. And most I’ve met actually just love the objects as a piece of engineering.

    I don’t know if those factor into wanting to wear gun jewellery, but to me it’s like having a rhinestone car pendant.

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