The cause button has been used to raise awareness for over a century, and no time in history were they more popular than during the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. As well-versed button history nerds, we instantly recognized the nod to the famous Angela Davis protest button in the 2.25″ “Free Michelle” Obama design we recently made for the Raison d’etre Collective. Collective member Sarah Nemecek shared the inspiration behind the tongue in cheek re-imagining of the First Lady and the awareness the group hopes to raise with this modern take on the classic cause button.
What was your inspiration to make the Free Michelle buttons?
We were inspired to make the buttons after the most recent election. Michelle Obama debuted a new hairstyle and the American media responded in an obsessed, almost manic way (see the The Huffington Post’s page Michelle Obama Bangs). The First Lady is an intelligent woman, but she seems to get more attention for her looks than anything else. We thought we’d launch a campaign to draw attention away from the superficial and back to Michelle as a real person.
How did the design come about? What did you want it to convey?
The design is based on the “Free Angela” buttons used to protest Angela Davis‘ imprisonment in the 1970s. Michelle Obama previously compared the White House to “a really nice prison,” and we wanted to highlight the limitations of life in the public eye. Angela Davis is also remembered for her hairstyle – an afro – which is widely considered a symbol of power and liberation. Interestingly, Davis has said that it is both “humiliating and humbling” to be remembered for her hair, and that made us think: how does Michelle Obama feel about being famous for her bangs, a hairstyle that surely has less political implications than an afro?
How are you using/distributing the buttons?
We’re proudly sporting the buttons around Chicago and encouraging others to find them on our website.
Can you tell me more about Raison D’etre?
Raison d’etre Collective is a group of like-minded individuals interested in spreading ideas, sharing resources, and collaborating across multiple disciplines. Raison d’etre means “reason for being,” and we’re committed to examining our purpose, our community, and ourselves to create work that is mindful and authentic. We also consume massive amounts of tea. If you’re interested in what we do, feel free to get in touch with us on http://www.rdecollective.com/ or twitter.