Selling hope

Online retailers make merch based on recent events


Photo by Allyson Smith

Many clothing companies are selling apparel online that are based around coronavirus.

Story by Stephanie Jumper, Staff writer

In an age where a germ from across the world dictates our every action, another green entity becomes more popular as the coronavirus dies down. It’s all powerful and influential, changing our perspectives for better or for worse. 


Just when we think coronavirus is causing the economy’s crumble, a new business is benefited thanks to the pandemic. Furniture companies are searching for nickels to make end’s meet. Restaurants are driving across town to deliver meals for minimum wage. However, there is one section of the stock market doing more dying than thriving: the internet.

Designers on sites such as TeePublic and RedBubble have gained inspiration from our situation and created a new type of streetwear. They line their websites with T-shirts flaunting attention grabbing slogans. 

I survived Coronavirus 2020.”

The Great Toilet Paper Panic.”

I don’t like this episode of Black Mirror.”

The list goes on and on. These lighthearted shirts take on a dark situation. Many of the humorous undertones of the virus come from comparing our struggles to other times of tragedy. Specifically, retailers have grown fond of equating the pandemic to the plague. 

In many ways, this is an understandable comparison. During both events, people isolate for fear of the new and unknown germs lurking in the air. A diagnosis could turn an everyday citizen into a bed ridden remnant of a human. Our favorite method of protection is headwear that shields us from the outside world. Only ours are “normal” masks instead of the far more fashionable plague doctor gear.

Either way, whether we’re sporting T-shirts and jeans or floor length peasant gowns, we’re all wearing the same concerned expressions. We’re all normal people with little understanding of medicine other than that staying away from others means less chance of infection. 

Thinking past obvious medical advancements since the plague, one medicine has proven effective for hundreds of years: humor. Laughing through tragedy is not an invention of Wuhan, China. It’s been a universal remedy for heartache and suffering long before our situation arose. Seeing the beauty and humor in darkness allows us to face reality. Dark humor tells us to embrace the complex emotions that result from tragedy. It doesn’t dry tears. Rather, it helps us laugh through them. 

Although the benefits of dark humor is great, its downsides are often greater.     

If one were to wear an “I survived corona” shirt into the world, the reactions would be mixed. There would be stares. There would be stifled laughter. There would be glances as passersby attempt to ignore the questionable clothing. Overcoming public opinion is a massive hurdle in the tragedy-based merchandise debate. 

However, there is no overcoming public opinion when there is no public. Although the government is in the process of lifting regulations, we are still isolated. This means limited contact with anyone who would give those pejorative glances.

This also means these shirts would stay where there is no one to be offended: in the peace and safety of the buyer’s closet. There, in one’s home, it can be worn with little chance of offending those who don’t consider these trying times a laughing matter.

If no one near is liable to take offense, there is no harm in wearing your sarcastic, corona-covered purchase during isolation. Just be aware that stepping outside of your house dauning your new apparel is a wholly different situation.