Cosplay, Diversity, Geek Culture, Gender, Harassment, Race, Racism

WWAC’s Summer Cosplay Series

For the month of July, the lifestyle section ran a series on cosplay in its many manifestations. As a diverse geek girl community who promotes intersectional feminism, we provided personal experiences and interviews in order to share a variety of experiences and thoughts on cosplay.

Although a lot of us cosplay here at WWAC, admittedly, many of us have never tried. Lindsey launched the series with her Fail Better about being a cosplay virgin and walked us through her own anxiety with trying cosplay. She perfectly captures all those multiple voices, such as worry-self, ruminator-self, and rational-self, that we have competing in our heads when we want to try something new and risky.

KM followed up with a WWAC Guide for New Cosplayers, which provided some empowering tips for battling those cosplay newbie anxieties:

“There are no authenticity police judging you on how closely your costume resembles the original character, so spice it up! Princess Thor? Zombie Ripley? Steampunk Commander Shepard? Pinup Snow White? Bring it on.”

Unfortunately, these “authenticity police” are often too real in cosplay. In some cases, cosplay is not even considered a legit geek activity at all, but the cosplayers we tracked down offered empowering messages on the importance of cosplaying for your own personal pleasure and for larger issues of diversity and representation in cosplay and the geek community at large.

Carly interviewed Celsius and Reina Valentine, who shared their experience as black cosplayers and how backhanded compliments like “good for a black [insert white character of choice]” is not a compliment, but is racist microagression at its worst.

This isn’t the first time we have talked race and cosplay though. A year and a half ago, Jamie explored the limited characters available for POC cosplayers who may want to represent a character of their own ethnic identity:

“But say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud! I should be able to represent one of my people in costume to thank creators for giving me representation and to show that like the Whos in Horton’s Whoville, we are here! For years, I’ve been hearing the repeated and disturbing idea that ‘black people don’t like comics and sci-fi anyway,’ and that makes it more important than ever to cosplay as somebody with brown skin.”

Briana Lawrence, Wonder Woman cosplay, photographed by Ilessthan3photography

Briana in her Wonder Woman cosplay, photographed by Wonder Woman Ilessthan3photography.

Emily interviewed the amazing Briana Lawrence who does stunning and fun twists on cosplay (see her Wonder Woman cosplay to the right), but also has dealt with slack from prejudiced folk. Briana’s advice:

“Just go out there and do it … I know some people worry about what others will think of their cosplay, and I understand that feeling, especially after getting my share of negative comments. Don’t let those comments get you down. I know it’s hard, because it’s really easy to focus on the negative, on the ‘what if someone makes fun of me.’ And, honestly, I do it too. I have that doubtful voice in my head. But then I remember all the fun I have and how amazing I feel when I’m walking around as these characters. That’s what you should focus on, and that’s what you should think about.”

In the midst of this, Desiree continued her stealth cosplay series Beauty & the Geek. This time she did eye make-up inspired by Starfire and Nightwing. Laura also celebrated July 4th with her own Captain America stealth cosplay. Interested in more stealth cosplay? Check our archives for Al’s old column Quick Changestealth cosplay on a budget.

Next up in our series, Kat examined the complexity (and fun!) of gender and crossplay in interviews with Melinda Gross and Hanahmiya. Paige then took us through a speculative journey comparing cosplay at comic cons versus anime cons.

If you’re still thinking cosplay is for people with amazing sewing and DIY skills, have no fear! Because Jennifer is here with tips for doing cosplay semi-homemade. You can also go more subtle with geek-inspired make-up and nail wraps. Jamie’s also got some recommendations for wigs for cosplayers.

And news editor Laura Harcourt wrapped us up with her experience of how she used crossplay to channel her theatre experience of playing male characters in plays in college.

Up next month, in anticipation of the swiftly approaching new school year and holiday season, we will be talking productivity and organization. If you have any special requests or want to share some of your own cosplay tips, please do so in the comments!