Guys, I’m not sure if you’re aware of what the phenomenon of “Cosplay” is that’s sweeping across various communities of geeks and nerds alike (and if you knew me, you’d know I use these terms with nothing but affection and no derogatory implications meant!), but if you aren’t, you could really dig it! Why?
Well, cosplayers are pretty gosh-darned sexy. And that’s why I like it, cause I like things that are sexy and looking at them (in fairness, I think two-day-old-Chinese-food-fry-ups are hot on a level Ms. Delavigne just can’t challenge). However, that isn’t exactly what I’m writing about.
Today, I’m writing in a response to the dissent that many cosplayers are receiving in their own community for being “too sexy.” One needn’t have a PhD in feminist theory to know that fictional female characters are, more often than not, outrageously over-sexualized. Look at Jasmine and Ariel in Disney or Tifa Lockheart in Final Fantasy VII and do not even begin to touch the grenade that is the fact that Serena cannot become Sailor moon without her skirt shortening too far to really be necessary anymore (I’m not sure how sad it is that I actually remember her name…).
Cosplay is not a weapon of feminism to fight against this sexualization. Because it isn’t really about changing the fictional worlds that it seeks to imitate. And it ain’t really about conforming to any expected societal norms.
It’s about, first and foremost, turning what was initially a fantasy into a reality.
It’s about one bad-ass game of dress-ups played by people who are old enough for their mummies to let them use scissors unsupervised and old enough to afford the materials to build their own (sometimes glorious) costumes.
And in the interest of artistic integrity and attention to detail, these cosplayers are sometimes going to be one big bag of, “DAAAAAYUM!” Telling a Lollipop Chainsaw cosplayer to not show their midriff in the interests of modesty would be like telling a Mulan cosplayer to try not to look Asian in the interests of cultural sensitivity. That would be saying the exact same thing in the cosplay world.
Is it attention seeking to be so overtly sexy? Maybe. In some instances, almost definitely. Frankly though, my dears, I don’t give a damn, because it’s the means (the creation) of Cosplay that justify the ends (the attention). I’ll use music and a pair of jeans as an analogy:
If I spend countless hours and sleepless nights working on a piece of music and then drop a few hundred bucks to get said piece produced, should I keep it to myself? Shouldn’t only my own opinion matter? I can’t think of a strong enough argument to support that, so I’ll say no. I want to share it, I want my friends to listen to it and I want strangers to comment on it. I want my work to be acknowledged, and more ultimately appreciated and enjoyed by others. It makes me feel good. So when a cosplayer spends 2 months working on a costume for one day at a convention in order to achieve a perfect mimicry of an anime character (and their outfits are, more often than not, INSANE and definitely not for purchase), I feel like their wanting to be appreciated for it is not out of line.
“But it’s still sexy! Why?!”
Okay, let’s try this. Last year, I bought a new pair of jeans because I finally found a pair of jeans that gave me an ass (you have NO idea how hard that is!). I felt good in them, struttin’ around ma bedroom with my newly discovered ass (oh dear..). I didn’t need anybody else to tell me I looked good in them to feel good. But when people pointed them out, I turned into a spangling bundle of “stahhhp!” It feels nice. Cosplayers get to feel nice, and it’s a pretty harmless way to feel sexy.
I don’t like to purposefully hate on people on matters like these (especially when I sort-of agree with them), but if you are just going to say, “You shouldn’t care what anybody else thinks of you, you don’t have to dress sexy to feel sexy!” I suggest you have a very, very long “because” section attached to that as it’s really not that simple. It’s like saying, “Just get over it!” Things don’t work that way. Don’t forget how recent of a phenomenon it is that a woman is able to be single and independent and say, “I don’t need no man!” is and how universally shared that principle isn’t. Just take a breath and really think about saying that before you actually say it.
Cosplay can provide a very safe and constructive way to have both your something that yo momma didn’t give you and what she did appreciated at the same time (costume and physicality). The context leaves me under the impression that it’s perfectly okay to let sexy be sexy in this instance.
Now that we’re coming to the end of the blog, let me just explain that I’m not hugely in favour of the glamour-model side of things (glamour models in this instance being referred to as borderline pornographic in the name of nothing but being so). However, I realize this line is extremely blurred and I can’t say exactly where it is. Gross over-sexualization that goes well beyond being for the sake of mimicry (like Rikku) or a spot of fun (like a sexy Pikachu)? That line is also very blurred, but it’s roughly where I draw it.
I also really like the fact that cosplayers can be sexy in any variation of size, gender or beauty! The fat, the scrawny, the short, the acne-ridden, the flat-chested and big-assed: people who too much of Western society has not recognized as sexy finally have a niche to be sexy, bad motha’flippahs in!
And truly, what’s wrong with the sexiness that somebody exudes when they’re just expressing their creativity?