Ah, Comic-Con. A time where nerds, geeks, and dorks alike can gather together to fangirl over all of their favorite fandoms. Whether you’re into comic books, video games, movies, or really anything else, you can find your interest there. Not only can you find things you’re interested in, but you can also dress up! It’s like a nerdy version of Halloween! Only this version of dressing up is called “cosplaying”, in which you dress up as a certain character. This can range immensely, with anything from Ganondorf to Spongebob in the realm of costume. Almost anyone can do it, and it’s really fun. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to it all. Seeing how Comic-Con is going on, I thought it would be relevant to talk about the sad but true misogyny and sexism spewed towards female cosplayers.
A lot of what I’ll be talking about in this article is similar to my “fake geek girls” article I wrote a couple of months back. In it, I discussed the definition of a “fake geek girl” and the constant hatred that they receive. Most of the hate that female cosplayers receive stems from the same reasons for shaming geek girls. In order to properly examine this hatred, we should first break down each kind of cosplayer, in which I will be ignoring the costume’s skill level and instead be basing this off of the actual costume worn.
First off is the average cosplayer. This is someone who doesn’t wear anything revealing or “promiscuous”. Funnier cosplays, usually for cartoon characters, tend not to receive as much hate. However, people who accurately dress as characters do often tend to receive hate from nerdy dudebros. No matter how well-put-together their costume is, guys will always tend to assume that these girls are faking it, or only know the character because their boyfriend or male friend introduced them to it. While these girls aren’t always outright shamed, the concept of someone wearing a Batman t-shirt also applies to someone in a Bat-Girl costume; they will be secretly shamed for it.
The second kind, and the seemingly more hated kind of cosplayer, is the revealing cosplayer. This category in itself breaks down again into two sub-parts; skinnier/average women and plus-sized women. Both receive hate from sneering, white geeks in different kinds of ways, both involving slut and/or body shaming. Skinner or average sized cosplayers in revealing costumes get the largest chunk of “fake geek girl” hate thrown their way. Guys assume, as they almost always do, that these women are wearing revealing costumes for the attention of males. Of course, that could be true, and there is no shame in it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting attention, which is a concept that not many people seem to grasp. But not only do they assume that these women only want attention, but they also assume that they are not real fans. If a woman dresses as Catwoman or Poison Ivy, surely she isn’t a true Batman fan; she’s just a slut that wants attention. First of all, Catwoman and Poison Ivy are always revealing characters – it has been in their design since they originated. If anything, they are being accurate to the characters, which shows they have passion for it. Secondly, the amount of knowledge that they have for the character does not diminish them or their costume. If someone wants to wear a revealing costume, whether it is of Catwoman or Samus, they have every right to do that. They are not sluts and they are not “asking for it”. They are just people who want to wear that costume and have a fun day. Don’t ruin it for them.
Now on to the sub-category, which is plus-sized cosplayers. I myself am not necessarily “plus-sized”, but I am above average size. I have never cosplayed before because I find it hard to find female characters who even remotely look like me. I can only imagine how hard it must be for plus-sized cosplayers to find a character that looks like them. Because of this, most plus-sized cosplayers will wear costumes of your average, skinny female character. This can range anywhere from Wonder Woman to Kairi. Knowing how much plus-sized people are ridiculed and mocked on a daily basis, it takes a lot of courage to go out amongst a large, judgemental crowd wearing any sort of costume, especially a revealing one. This is where the truly dark and disgusting side of geekdom comes to light. This hate mainly comes from white nerds (of all shapes and sizes), but can also come from women, too (or other genders not aforementioned). Body and slut shaming take full force, with slurs, threats, and other derogatory comments geared to these wonderful women. The courage it takes to wear those costumes is incredible, and they should be able to enjoy their night without feeling shamed, embarrassed, or hated. I have heard some disgusting things said to these women, which make me shudder to think about. The bottom line is this; no one deserves to be harassed, threatened, humiliated, or hated on because of their body type, what they are wearing, or their knowledge of geek culture.
I could go on for days about the hate that female cosplayers receive. It is honestly disgusting how people treat them. I’m not entirely knowledged about the kind of hate towards people of other genders, but I can assume it is also equally as disgusting. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; if we as a whole want people to take geek culture seriously, then we have to stop hating each other.