My Complicated Relationship (With Cosplay)
I’d like everyone to welcome Melinda Sineriz to Searching for SuperWomen! She’ll be writing for us about cons, cosplay, and GLBTQ experience within geekdom!
It was my idea. I pitched writing a post about cosplay because I find it fascinating. I love the detail that goes into the costumes. I admire the courage that women, in particular, display in portraying their favorite characters. As I wandered about Comic-Con, I found that I was the most comfortable approaching women portraying gender-neutral or gender-variant characters. An Oompa-Loompa or a woman portraying Loki, a male character—no problem. Women portraying more sexualized, busty, or feminine characters, though…I found myself hesitant. I was intimidated, certainly. I’m an introvert by nature and it’s not unusual for me to be awkward around people I don’t know. That didn’t completely explain things though. Then I realized what it was—I was being judgy. And perhaps a little jealous.
Before you judge me too harshly, allow me to explain. I’m fat. I’ve always felt fat, even in my younger years when I was merely overweight. As I walked around the Con looking for women to take pictures of (which sounds wrong, even as I type it) I was most comfortable approaching women who more most like me, or who I perceive myself to be—someone who doesn’t quite fit in. Beyond that, though, there is a little part of me that has internalized what society says about women—if women dress provocatively, they’re doing it for attention. To be sexy. And that dressing provocatively, even in service to accurately portraying a character, is slutty.
Running along side these thoughts are my own secret dreams of cosplay. I’d love to cosplay as Starbuck from the Battlestar Galactica reboot, for example, or Death from the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, but I’m afraid. I’m afraid of looking silly, of being judged because I’m not the right size for the character. So my judgment isn’t limited to others—it’s harshest when it comes to myself. Perhaps it’s time to get better acquainted with my sewing machine and my inner badass.
Perhaps it’s also time to dismantle my own ideas of cosplay, who does it, and why. I apologize to the women who cosplay as provocative characters in revealing costumes. There’s so much I can learn from their confidence and enthusiasm. The Cosplay is NOT Consent movement is working to ensure that women (and men) who cosplay are treated with respect, and not as objects. Looking forward to seeing you at a Con soon. I’ll be the one with the camera, notebook, and quite possibly dressed as Starbuck.
Melinda Sineriz is a writer, editor, educator, geek, and troublemaker (not necessarily in that order). She grew up in Ohio and graduated from Miami University (the Ohio one) with a super-practical degree in English. She lived in Washington, D.C. for eight years before moving to her current home of Bakersfield, California. She completed her Master of Arts in Teaching degree at Bard College’s Delano campus in June 2013 and will be teaching at a middle school in the Central Valley starting this fall. She lives with a neurotic dog, a schizophrenic cat, two kittens, and her martian and partner, Sid. And her mother-in-law. She spends a lot of time in coffee shops. You can find her ramblings at thatmelinda.com.