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Americas Gun Culture: Ballet with a Bullet

When the ballet skirts I ordered for my granddaughter’s birthday arrived from a Florida retailer that sells clothing for dancers, I was shocked to see that they looked like this.

Published in ChicagoNow, March 6, 2018

It was bad timing. The package showed up after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. According to my map app, Bullet Pointe is located one hour’s drive from Parkland, Florida where fourteen children and three staff members died in a rain of bullets from an AR-15. So, I was shocked to see both the logo on the mailing envelope and the ballet skirts packaged to look like bullets. When I ordered the ballet attire using a direct link, I had no idea what the company’s name or image was.

Bullet Pointe’s website has a gritty, urban look, featuring black and white photos of dancers on NYC streets. It tells us,

  • We are a different kind of company.

  • We are dedicated to the girl who never stops, never quits, and never forgets why she started.

  • To the girl who will live anywhere just to live her dream.

  • And to the city that takes this girl in with open arms, pushes her to her limits, and creates not just a stronger, more powerful dancer, but a bolder, braver woman.

All of that sounds fine, but what was it that inspired this manufacturer of ballet clothing to associate itself with bullets? Pointe in ballet is dancing on the tips of the toes. My granddaughter looks forward to getting her pointe shoes next year. But she and her peers are peace-loving preteens and associating going on pointe with bullets for the sake of a pun makes no sense to them.

I hope this company and all others who use gun culture lingo to sell their wares, even in jest, will consider rebranding. Apparently, America’s obsession with guns has even led to folks naming their babies (generally boys) names like Pistol, Gunner, Cannon, Trigger, Shooter, Caliber, Magnum, Remington, Wesson, Beretta, and Chaos. There’s a powerful message in giving a child one of these names.

I guess the thinking for Bullet Pointe was that this clothing was intended for girls who are strong, dedicated, and bold in their pursuit of their dream to be a dancer. These girls will rise “with a bullet.” The expression used to be part of Billboard Magazine’s pop music charts. Now they put a gun target sign in front of chart entries that have moved up with very quickly (with a bullet).

I know. I’m being a bit sensitive about this. Ballet minus the “a” and plus a “u” gets you bullet. Pointe minus the final “e” gets you to the bullet logo. And after I have written about this, I’m guessing you will remember the name of this store if you are into ballet attire. So good marketing, right?

At the risk of sounding like a snowflake, I hate the idea of selling ballet skirts wrapped to look like bullets. I removed the packaging and just put them in a gift box with tissue to give my granddaughter for her birthday. Ballet and bullets don’t make sense to her, and she’s pretty upset about school shootings these days. I didn’t have time to return the skirts and buy them elsewhere, but that will be my last purchase from this store unless they change the name.

If Congress won’t act, we can do our small bit. No more discounts for NRA members from several companies. No sales of assault-style rifles at Dick’s and raising the age to buy guns to 21 at Dick’s and Walmart. The least I can do is to stop buying things from companies that use the gun culture to sell their wares.



by Laurie Levy
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