Button Pins; A Self Portrait Piece

Whenever I go anywhere with my laptop bag, eyes always turn towards it. It’s not a special bag in particular, but it’s the decor that grabs peoples attention. Button pins shroud the entire front pouch. People have asked me if the pins are from places that I’ve been. I answer with a no, though that’s not entirely true. They are from places I have been to- New York Comic-Con, the Manhattan Disney store, LI-Con- the list goes on. I never tell them that though. They’d either talk over me or try and relate by telling me they know someone who does the same kind of thing as me- or try and kiss me. It’s happened. While they then continue to tell me where they have been, or what the button pins remind them of, I always think to myself of the true stories behind each pin.

I think people usually asked me if they were travel pins because I had one in particular that might have given that indication. I had a pin of the Austrian flag on my pack, but not because I’ve ever been there. In high school, my friends and I were in love with Hetalia, an anime where the countries are personified as people. We each chose roles for ourselves, and I chose Austria. Every day we’d meet each other in the hallways and start talking in our phony accents, making each morning a comedy routine. The character also kept me going through my first two years of college. I didn’t know anyone, and for me, making new friends is a struggle. I made a page on Facebook to continue to role play with other Hetalia fans, and it even became pretty popular. It’s practically abandoned now, but I recognize the importance and strength it gave me to meet new people, both online and in person.

At the same convention, I bought two other pins. One of the sign of Farore from the Legend of Zelda and the other of a Super Smash Bros Brawl insignia. I was only just beginning my pin collection by this time, so the decision really made a difference. The instant I saw the saw the symbol, I had immediately associated myself with it. I had recently been participating in official Smash Bros tournaments with my friend, Jon. In the first tournament, I did not make it past the first round, but I still had a lot of fun. It really inspired me to become even better. I eventually got so good that at LI-con one of the hosts actually bet money on me to win the championship. No pressure there!

As a gamer, I of course have many gaming pins on my bag, but the most pins that I have game wise are Pokémon. Pokémon was my first step into the otaku world I live in, and I still love it the same as the first time I set my eyes on the television series in fourth grade. I was constantly changing my favorite Pokémon, I could never pick just one, but now I have one solid favorite that followed me from my childhood into my adulthood, which is Gardevoir – which always remains as a pin on my bag no matter what. In game, you can bring up to six of your pokemon with you at a time, and in honor of that, I put six of my favorite pokemon lined up in a row on the left.  Actually, I have seven now. I made a Kyogre pin when I was making button pins for my anime club, and I took it. I intended to put it in a Christmas goodie bag, but it was just so alluring. I made another one after Christmas to use in the clubs prize bin. I’m a bit selfish sometimes, but I always make sure to make up for it. Being an only child does that to you.

I’m always making pins for my friends though, I was even able to win free pins for my friend Tiffanie one time as well. On a trip to the Disney Store, an employee saw all my pins, and could actually relate to me about them. She had also gone to the Disney panel at comic-con the year before, and had the same Tomorrow Land pin as I did. After talking about the convention some more, she said that if I could answer a trivia question, I could get some free button pins for me and Tiffanie. I accepted immediately with a grin on my face. Trivia is my favorite, and Disney trivia is one of my specialties. Tiffanie, who was snickering, knew that all too well. Whenever we play Scene it: Disney at my house, I’m already at the end of the board before she makes it to the middle. The worker asked me a Monsters University question, and I worried for a minute since I had only seen that movie twice. Once with Tiffanie, where we were the only ones in the theater, making shadow puppets on the big screen, and once with my Godmother, who goes to the theaters with me instead of my mother since she actually likes all the animated films as much as I do. Regardless, I thought quickly and answered it correctly and won the pins. Tiffanie still keeps those pins on her purse.

Then there are the pins that fill me with joy, because they are the pins I made. Drawings I did myself, now able to decorate my bag- and not only my bag, but others. My parents were kind enough to get me my own button maker for my birthday last August, and I have been using it non stop. I now have several button pins with my own designs listed in my etsy store, and people have been buying them. It gives me such a warm feeling inside that people are using my artwork to decorate their own bags, hats, or wherever else they might use them. I pray that my pins will bring as many stories and memories to them that my pins have brought me.

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