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Why I Cosplay, And Why The Barbs Don’t Stick

I love to cosplay.

But there are those that have said, in the past, that I’m not doing it properly, because my body is different to the character I’m trying to portray. I’m not busty, I’m not stick-thin, I’m not muscular, and I don’t have the chiselled jawline of an Amazonian warrior woman. I say to them – “And what are YOU going to do about it?”

Yeah, I am not particularly well-endowed, but that isn’t a problem for me when I cosplay, because I focus more on the joy of being able to dress up as my favourite characters than the opportunity to display my assets for everyone else to drool over. Frankly, I’m not a massive fan of over-exposing my body, but I won’t let that stop me from creating costumes; I just create costumes which I can feel comfortable and confident in while still looking awesome. While in my last article I did state that my motivation for working out is going to MCM next month, it’s not because I feel like I need to resemble whoever I end up dressing as more. I’d like to feel a bit more confident in myself while I’m there, is all.

Now, I have nothing against buxom ladies strutting their stuff dressed as their favourite heroines and villainesses – some of the best costumes I’ve ever seen at conventions have been worn by women with curves in all the right places – or guys with chiselled abs, striking bold poses. Fair play to them! Find a character you love, and if you resemble them more than most, fair enough. You’ll probably have a lot of people congratulating you on your accuracy. Me, though? I cosplay because I love it. From my experience, there’s always someone at a Con with a badass costume (I’ve seen Vulture, Galactus, The Thing and the Xenomorph Queen from Aliens, to name a few) that everybody wants to take pictures with. I rather be noticed for the costume, and the time and effort I put into it, than because I’ve got tits as big as Power Girl.

This comes from a girl who once dressed as Harley Quinn (one of the famously busty Gotham City Sirens) and I got praised and noticed for my efforts, not for my body. Granted, there were those who seemed to believe it was impossible for anybody with a cup size smaller than DD to portray her well – some of the more barbed comments included things like:

“There’s not enough whore in it..”

“I seriously can’t tell if you’re a boy or a girl.”

“Nice tuckjob.”

“You need bigger boobs for Harley Quinn….just sayin’ “

as well as various other things – but you know what? I’ve never even met any of those people (the power of the internet allows us to anonymously rejoice in a lack of social etiquette), and it doesn’t bother me.

I’ll admit, I do occasionally feel pressured when it comes to costume ideas, because there seem to be so few female characters where the emphasis is not on having the perfect body, but I can still pick and choose and adapt if I want. Dressing as Ramona Flowers from the Scott Pilgrim movie – with goggles, handstitched subspace suitcase, giant hammer, blue hair and not an inch of cleavage in sight – for London Super Comicon 2012 was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. 

It’s definitely tricky, though. I’ve noticed whenever I look through a photographer’s gallery from whatever Con they went to that weekend, that the focus seems to be on the female cosplayers, and particularly those with a lot of cleavage on show. Now, it might just be down to the photographers’ personal taste, but I bet somewhere in the backgrounds of all those sexy photos were quite a few other cosplayers who perhaps weren’t so physically attractive, and maybe put a lot more effort into their costumes too, that nobody pays attention to because they not doing it ‘properly’.

Maybe it’s to do with the classic superheroine image – tall, gorgeous, muscular, powerful, slim…and, well, there’s no other way to put it really; stacked. (It makes me wonder how their costumes stay on half the time.) Obviously, there are real people who have bodies that look like that –  the majority of those people, unfortunately, would probably never be caught dead at a convention. But the point still stands; cosplay seems to open itself up to those who most resemble the characters’ physicality, without really considering that there are many more people who want to spend a day embodying that character too, regardless of shape, height, skin colour, nationality, or resources. It’s a mindset that a lot of people are still stuck in, and they appear to look down on those who dare to try and dress as somebody who doesn’t look like them.

It’s a costume. What does it matter if the character doesn’t look like you? Isn’t that kind of the point, that when you’re at a convention, you’re not being your standard everyday self? You’re taking a day out of normal life to be Batman or Iron Man or Wonder Woman or whoever else you can’t resist buying the trade paperbacks of when it’s New Comic Book Day?

When I’m in costume, I can be, do, and say, what I like; I can be confident. I can make friends with people who otherwise might not have ever crossed paths with me. I can share a great experience with thousands of other people. Cosplay should let you be who you dream of being, even if it’s only for a little while.

Anyone can cosplay, and there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of doing it; this is my firm belief, and I’m sticking to it. And as for the girls who aren’t so well-endowed, and boys who don’t have a six-pack or a lantern jaw? Who’s to say you can’t dress as your hero or heroine just because you don’t share the same body type? Fucking nobody, that’s who.


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