Cosplay – how we are hurting our own reputation

Last night I watched Heroes of Cosplay. I love shows like this, I’m a big Project Runway fan and love to dress up for things like Halloween and Ren Faire, so of course I was gonna catch this show. But last night totally bummed me out.

If you haven’t seen the show, it basically follows a group of people who attend the different Cons around the country and make their own costumes of characters (comics, movies, video games, original, whatever) and enter the cosplay contests at the cons, hoping to win.

Sounds great right?

Mostly.

Last night they had a few new people in the mix. The night before the contest day, the group got together to hang out and talk all things Cos. Cool, sure, until they started talking about how some people shouldn’t do certain costumes. Like an overweight guy probably shouldn’t dress up as Superman.

Eh?

Why?

Yeah, I get it, he’s not built the way Superman is depicted in the comics and films, but so what? Cosplay is a fantasy, it’s supposed to be fun. You should be allowed to dress up as whoever or whatever you want and just have fun. I mean, comics and superheroes and villains and all that are there for us to escape the harsh grind of reality and explore a world of our choosing. So what if you’re fat? You wanna be Superman, then strap on that cape and fly dude.

Another part of the show that bugged me was Yaya Han’s former protégé, Monika. Monika wanted to be Steampunk Poison Ivy. I love Steampunk and I think it’s awesome when people try to reinvent characters and even more when they make them a Steampunk version. It’s so much fun. But Monika has been tempted by the likes of her friend Jessica.

Now, if you’ve been to any Con, you’ve seen many Jessicas. These are the girls that pretend to dress up just for the excuse totumblr_mly0crHPEQ1rd6r7uo1_500 (1) wear lingerie. I hate these girls. Now, don’t get me wrong: I think women should love their bodies and be proud of whatever figure they’ve got and if they want to use their sex appeal, do it. And do it with your head held high. But don’t strap on a bra and a two inch tutu and pair of angel wings and tell me you’re a Valkyrie, okay?

Me as a pirate

Me as a pirate

When I dress up or Cosplay, I don’t hide my curves. We all have such horrible body images, we shouldn’t be adding to them. I love strong female characters who embrace their sexuality and send a good message to the world. I do not like girls who perpetuate the stereotype that the most important thing a girl can bring to the table is her cleavage.

When Monika was getting dressed her roommate, who was Hellgirl and looked awesome btw (and showed off her figure as well, but did it much more tastefully and appropriately for her character), commented on the fact that she could see Monika’s crotch and how awkward it was. And when Monika looked at herself in the mirror she exclaimed, “Oh my God! I look like a slut!” Awesome. Way to go, Monika.

Then came the contest. One of the qualities contestants are judged upon is “performance.” Monika didn’t strut out and embody Poison Ivy, she just walked out and stood there, expecting people to appreciate her costume because she was wearing a bustier and stockings with garters.

wendypini

Wendy Pini as Red Sonja

One of my heroes, Wendi Pini, was a judge. Wendy has done some badass Cosplay in her day, even dressing up as a very sexy version of Red Sonja. So, you know, Wendi isn’t going to give anyone a hard time if they decide to go that route with a costume but she did expect Monika to at least act the part and when she didn’t she told Monika that was disappointing. What was Monika’s reaction? Off stage she bad mouthed Wendy. Shocker.

I just don’t understand. I really don’t. Bring something to the table ladies, not just your boobs. Monika defended her friend Jessica’s “costume” choices by saying that Yaya “puts her boobs out there too.” I don’t really think you can compare a matching bra and panty set with the massive, detailed costume that happens to accentuate a woman’s décolletage.

Yaya Han as Chun Li from Mortal Combat

Yaya Han as Chun Li from Mortal Combat

Oh, and by the way, Yaya was the first to say that she enjoyed showing off her sexuality in costume, but she made sure it was appropriate for the character.

We already have the men shouting us down, saying we’re not “real nerds” and don’t belong in the comic world. I would just like to see people like Yaya and Wendy and Riki, who invented Hellgirl, to be the ones getting attention.

Do better girls. We all deserve it.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Cosplay – how we are hurting our own reputation

  1. so true showing sexuality is great what ever body type you have but you must do it with the character in mind or you just don’t do cosplay justice my daughter loves to dress up and she does it well love your pic by the way.

  2. I just watched the second episode, and I totally agree with everything you posted here. It hurt me when they were attacking Chloe for defending people’s right to dress up as whatever they want to be. And honestly, where is the line? “You’re too fat to be Superman” easily becomes “You’re not the same race as Superman.” And by that train of thought, Yaya could only dress up as Asian characters. Which is just silly!

    Also the whole Monika/Jessica thing, it totally frustrated me that Monika didn’t get what Yaya was trying to tell her–which is what you so eloquently put in this post. Being sexy is ok and awesome, but do it with a character that makes sense, with attention to detail, and then embody that character! Monika strikes me as a girl trying to be a confident woman but doesn’t know exactly how to do it and unfortunately she’s looking for Jessica for guidance instead of Yaya. It breaks my heart especially since I know she’s a Georgia Tech student. I expect the students from my Alma Mater to display a little more sense.

    • Yes, I wanted to expand on the “a fat guy shouldn’t be superman” issue. That will def be a blog topic in the future. It just reminds me of the bullying we all get within our own community even though most of us dealt with bullying growing up. Meh.

      Watching Monika, and listening to her thought process and reasoning made me feel so old. I just shook my head and actually said, “God. You are so young you just don’t get it.” I’ll be telling kids to get off my lawn before you know it. I don’t know if Monika is trying to be a confident woman or if she’s just looking for attention (I hate saying that but that’s what people like Jessica are doing) and still hasn’t learned the difference between good and bad attention. If she’d put real effort into making her Poison Ivy costume Steampunk-tastic with an elaborate bustle skirt and gears and gadgets, people would’ve flipped – I know I would. That’s the kind of attention she should get. I was so happy that Wendy Pini called her out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s