Scrawled across sweatshirts featured in a New York fashion show earlier this September were the names of the worst school shootings to shake the U.S. The words “Columbine,” “Sandy Hook,” “Virginia Tech” and “Stoneman Douglas,” written in large, embroidered lettering were not the only notable aspect of the Bstroy fashion line ─ the hoodies were also distressed to resemble bullet holes. This insensitive reference to mass shootings has sparked anger among gun violence victims and gun reform activists.
School shootings have been increasingly more present in today’s society. Since Columbine in 1999, there have been 11 mass shootings within schools across America, including Northern Illinois, Red Lake and Santa Fe.
These tragedies have created a push for awareness, but a call to action is needed. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about doing so.
According to Bstroy, the fashion line was created in an attempt to spread awareness for gun violence and to, essentially, play a role in the fight for gun reform in America. While the intentions were in the right place, the action was inappropriate and inconsiderate.
A clothing line featuring the names of schools affected by mass shootings and a bullet hole design is not the way to get the public’s attention.These hoodies were insensitive to not only the victims of the named school shootings, but to those affected by gun violence everywhere. Gun violence deserves to be a topic of conversation, but it needs to be done with a certain respect.
By plastering the names of shootings on pieces of clothing and making it a fashion statement, it brings attention to what isn’t important. It causes a shift in focus from the horrible acts of hatred to a hip and trendy article of clothing.
Instead of using a serious topic to make a profit, the time, money and attention should have been put into other areas of the movement. The fashion line should take cues from the marches, big events, usage of social media and devoted campaigns that play a large role in encouraging safer gun control laws.
Some will argue that progress has been slow in the gun reform movement and a radical action needs to be made in order to fully regain public attention. The March for Our Lives movement has lost its prominence in the media recently, leaving activists scrambling for new ways to make a difference. In order to make real change, calm, level-headed actions have to be made.
Understandably, this fashion line was not received well at all. Victims instantly raised their voices to speak out against the school shooting-themed hoodies and called it “appalling” and “absolutely horrific.” Many demanded the line be taken off the market and a public apology from the company.
The victims of these horrific events deserve the right to grieve in private and avoid triggers that remind them of the horrific day that forever altered their lives.
School shootings are traumatizing and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Children and teachers were made victim to violence in what was meant to be the safest place for them ─ this is not a trivial matter.
To make money off of someone’s suffering and pain shows a blatant disrespect for an extremely traumatic situation. Not only were the sweatshirts insensitive, but they have the potential to pose a threat to the progress made toward stopping gun violence. In a way, this fashion line mocks all other appropriate attempts to raise awareness for the cause.
Bstroy’s sweatshirts have degraded the positive strides of groups such as the March for Our Lives campaign. A movement such as this must be taken seriously. Without the proper respect, change will not only be difficult, but impossible.
Incorporating violent content from tragic events into a fashion line is not the way to begin a movement. It’s simply insensitive and harsh. Those who have lived through school shootings have the right to forget. By selling this clothing line, Bstroy is taking away a part of that basic right. The gun reform movement has to keep moving forward with its campaign, but this was not a respectful way to spread awareness and captivate people’s attention.