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People are buying pins and t-shirts on Etsy that say ‘Not a Republican, just vaccinated’ now that mask mandates are going away

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Screenshot of an Etsy store  listing pins that read

Summary List Placement

As mask mandates lift, people are looking for new ways to signal that they’re taking precautions against COVID-19 — and that they’re not conservative.

An Etsy search for vaccine-related merchandise turns up countless results for t-shirts and wearable button pins, many with a simple “vaccinated” message. But look a little further and there are dozens of items with some version of the following message: “Not a Republican, just vaccinated.”

Masks, and especially mask mandates, have been a divisive, politically charged topic almost since the pandemic began. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first began recommending them to curb the spread of COVID-19 in April of last year.

Read more: Etsy is awash with illicit products it claims to ban, from ivory to dangerous weapons and mass-produced goods

Since then, anti-mask rhetoric has largely come from citizens and politicians on the right side of the aisle. The states that never had mask mandates, or had them for a very brief time period, are almost exclusively red states. But since the CDC updated its recommendations, mask mandates are dropping in most places.

Caroline, who is based in Miami, Florida, and owns the Etsy shop CoolGiftAtelier, said she received a custom request a couple of weeks ago from a customer interested in one of her pins that featured a rainbow and said, “Vaccinated, You can hug me.” Instead, the customer asked for the message: “Not Republican, just vaccinated.”

Caroline said she didn’t totally understand why someone would ask for that message because she has been so busy with her kids and her three Etsy shops, but she was happy to fulfill the customer’s request. She also noticed there were already shirts being sold with the message, but no pins.

“Then, as soon as the listing was created, something odd happened: my phone started sending notifications one after the other. 1 heart, 2 hearts, 3 hearts… A lot of people were adding the pin to their favorites,” she told Insider in a message.

“Then the sales kicked in. I think I received almost 50 orders in 1 day. A record for my brand new little Etsy shop,” Caroline said.

Screenshot of Etsy listings of pins and t-shirts that read

She listed even more designs with the message and they have become her bestsellers.

More Etsy stores are picking up on the trend, with lots of new listings popping up. The reviews for the pins are glowing as well, with people saying things like, “So cute and much needed!” and “Such a cute pin! And sooooo needed LOL! I can’t be mistaken for a you know what!!”

Katie, an Etsy shopper who left one of the glowing reviews, told Insider she wanted the pin because “there was a fear of people misconstruing my intent when I do not have a mask on or pulled up.”

Now that she is vaccinated, she does not always wear her mask when she is in spaces that are not very crowded or are outdoors, but she doesn’t want people to think she is anti-mask or anti-vax, both of which have been associated with conservatives.

“It is very important to me that others know where I stand on politics, health issues, and racial injustice,” she said. “I do not want others to assume that I am Republican because I would never want anyone to think I would do something so careless towards them like not wear a mask without being vaccinated.”

Caroline said she believes many of her customers feel the same way, especially the ones who opt for the non-Republican pins over the far more neutral “vaccinated” ones that she offers. She pointed out the extremely mixed reactions to President Joe Biden’s May 13 tweet: “The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”

“It’s easy to see how divided the nation is about this subject,” she said. “People are definitely afraid of others’ external assumptions.”

“This pin helps them communicate their ‘fully vaccinated status’ in a cute yet humorous political way,” she continued. “There is definitely a ‘belonging’ component.'” 

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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