Tag Archive for cosplaying

Cosplayers are not “fake geek girls.”

Two white women in tutu cosplays. One is the fifth Doctor and one is the TARDIS.

My friend and I cosplaying at Gally. How adorable are we? Unsurprisingly, we didn't care much about boners when making or wearing these.

Of course Cosplay Appreciation Day devolved into some asshole decrying cosplayers for being fake geek girls. Because, honestly.

Look, geek men. We’re all tired of saying this.

You are not the judge of who’s a “real” geek. Not even if you have a penis. Not even if you’re white. Not even if you work in the industry. Not even if you’ve been a geek for decades. No one crowned you gatekeeper of the geeks, and it makes you look like a pretentious douche to act like you are one.

Women who cosplay, whether they are doing “sexy” cosplay or not, do so for a variety of mostly complex reasons. I’m going to hypothesize, from my conversations with cosplayers, that approximately none of them do it to give you boners and then turn you down for the pleasure of seeing you be sad about it. Even the ones who hope to get attention from men generally have other reasons.* Those reasons? All related to being a fan. Cosplayers cosplay because of love. They love the characters, the media, and/or the fan community. They are creating something beautiful and they are performing. This isn’t attention-seeking, this is fucking art.

Lots of women are geeks. Lots of women you don’t think are hot are geeks. Just because some cosplayers have the absolute gall to be fat, small-breasted, butch, or otherwise not conventionally beautiful doesn’t mean that they are just unsuccessful fake geek girls. Again, we’re not all trying to give you boners. I’m one of those cosplayers you’d probably call “con hot,” and my cosplay has nothing to do with you. I’m not going to cons because it’s the only place I can get men to pay attention to me. I don’t think so little of geek men as to believe that they’re so pathetic, awkward, and inexperienced that they would be desperate enough to hit on women like me who they don’t find that attractive. Come to think of it, I don’t think so little of myself to buy that scenario either.

In short, the geek world does not revolve around you. It doesn’t even revolve around men. Most cosplayers are not thinking about men or you when sewing their bustles or screenprinting their costumes or combing local thrift stores for the perfect jacket. And if you haven’t met a “real” geek woman who cosplays, it could be because you’re a dickhead, and women don’t want to talk to you.

 

 

*Seriously, if you wanted to get men to pay attention to you, would you choose to wear a low cut top and mini skirt, which you could buy in a store and wear to parties afterward, or would you spend hours of labor constructing and collecting pieces for a costume you’ll wear very few times only to cons?

Why I Don’t Cosplay

I’ve been a geek all my life. From the time I was a little girl I grew up on Star Trek and had a deep, undying love for Sherlock Holmes. I lived blissfully unaware of the mocking geeks get as I grew up because I was homeschooled. My peers were fellow kids at church and clubs. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I realized I was different. A girl at summer camp teased me for using large words, which I thought were normal, every day words. It was also around that same time I started getting teased for being overweight.

I’m not going to say that I’ve been brutally teased like some people I know. My incidents of being bullied for my weight are very few (several have happened online with extremely rude comments or emails). We’re talking a handful of incidents over a very long period of time. Personal attacks are rare, but the general overall feeling about overweight women, especially in the geek fandom is intense.

While my body image and confidence are usually fine, going to a big convention filled with scantily clad hotties sends my shields up. I’ve been in earshot of people who snicker and laugh at the plus-sized Batgirls or other cosplayers who don’t fit the skinny actresses they’re portraying. Once I asked one of these curvy girls to pose for a picture and genuine shock crossed her face. Other times it’s been a large man in a Roman gladiator outfit who gets laughed at or the plus-sized Princess Lei. Every time I heard these snickers and laughs I was less comfortable with dressing up.

I’ve only dressed up at a convention once, despite having attended many. It was DragonCon, I was on a panel for my audio drama podcast and I dressed up as my character, Anya. My mother made me a skirt and I painted a shirt to resemble her Once More With Feeling costume. In a large group of costumed people (my best friends were Buffy and Drusilla), I felt more able to handle my perception of dressing up. It helped my costume wasn’t too far out there (I mean, it was a skirt and shirt). Even so, I was ill at ease despite the euphoria of celebrating an amazing production and having a packed out room to hear our performance. I rushed back to my hotel room and changed as soon as I could.

So when I saw all of the Doctor Who cosplayers at Gallifrey One again this year it brought up those emotions. I remembered the poor girl who asked on a forum who she could dress up as being plus-sized, the only answer she got was ogre Princess Fiona. I wanted to scream.

I can’t even say it’s Hollywood’s fault per say. When I considered dressing up as an actress who is plus-sized and was figuring how to do her costume I read a glut of nasty YouTube comments and the emotional response just flared up again. Here was a wonderful actress, who I so admired, being skewered online because of her weight (I know, I know it’s YouTube, what should I expect, but still it’s awful).

Cosplaying is supposed to be, at least for me, an escape. It’s a chance to be someone else for awhile and to live in their skin. I love walking around Gallifrey One and seeing the responses people get to their costumes. One girl, dressed as Sherlock, was walking away and another girl caught a glimpse of her and yelled out, “I believe in you, Sherlock!” It was like when little kids see their favorite characters at Disney and believe, in that moment, that they’re real. It warmed my heart. But, I can never have that experience because of the reactions I have heard in the past.

So, I won’t cosplay. It’s the one area of fandom I’ve barely tried and it kind of makes me sad.

So why write about it here? Well, I didn’t want to really. I’m not a big fan of pity parties or being vulnerable in a public forum. I finally realized I should get the conversation going and perhaps make people think twice before they snicker at the plus-sized costumed fan walking through the hallways of your next convention. The cosplayer you save might just be me.

 

 

EDIT! Follow up post about this is here.