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Unicorning is a photo fad that entails getting one’s picture taken while wearing a rubber unicorn mask in a public place, similar to the use of horse head masks.
The phenomenon was started by Laura DeMerchant, a Los Angeles-based film producer who began collecting unicorn masks and offering to take pictures of her friends as early as last fall. As her “unicorning” photo collection grew, DeMerchant eventually began sharing her photographs via Twitter and Instagram on March 26th, 2013, followed by the launch of the single topic blog UnicornArmy.com on June 2nd.
The absurdist humor behind “Unicorning” was most likely inspired by a precedent fad involving a horse head mask, which gained much of its popularity through Japanese video bloggers on YouTube and Nico Nico Douga in the late 2000s.
The photo fad steadily grew in popularity through the first half of 2013, with more than 500 “Unicorning” photos shared via @UnicornArmy between March and June 2013, but the phenomenon didn’t draw major attention from mainstream internet news sites until mid-July, when DeMerchant’s friend and adult film star Andy San Dimas was kicked out of a Pittsburgh Pirates game for dancing provocatively while wearing a unicorn mask. A photograph of San Dimas’ stunt was then uploaded to Instagram by her friend Steviee Hughes, as well as a picture of the actress posing in a police station with an unidentified officer wearing the unicorn mask.
In the following week, the story was picked up by several sports blogs and internet news sites, including Deadspin, The Huffington Post, Daily Mail and New York Daily News among many others.
New York Daily News – Pittsburgh cop who wore porn star’s ‘unicorn’ mask in photo now in hot water