Cosplay Is Expression

I’ve been getting into cosplay more and more recently. I love dressing up, whether it be costumes or formal wear. For me, this is a large portion of going to conventions. It is also why I’m so partial to Halloween and weddings. Having interesting costumes is a lot of fun, and brings a sense of accomplishment when you can create something that looks how you want it to—whether it being creating garments and props from scratch or simply piecing together an ensemble that feels just right. But frequently, people will ask: “why do you like cosplaying?” I’d like to discuss that for a bit.

Cosplay!

Cosplay!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Crossplay and Gender

Me. At Tekkoshocon. Bein' a dude.

Me. At Tekkoshocon. Bein’ a dude.

A few months ago I was at my hometown con, Tekkoshocon, in good ol’ Pittsburgh, PA, and witnessed an interesting exchange. While waiting in line to ask about prop-check, I overheard the guys in front of me asking the con staffers if they’d seen any male crossplayers. They were participating in a scavenger hunt, and dude crossplayers are apparently rare enough to merit a spot on the hunt’s item list. This set me to thinking: Why is that?

I’ve already written once about crossplay a long time ago, but I think it’s worth revisiting. Crossplay is the practice of cosplaying as a different gender than the one you identify as, and it’s extraordinarily common at conventions these days. Except for one thing: most crossplayers are women dressing as men. I chalk this up to a number of factors, including the proportionally larger number of male characters compared to women in popular geek culture, and the fact that it’s far more of a societal no-no for a man to dress in women’s clothing.

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LGG&F’s Best of New York Comic Con Cosplay

I am bad at doing stuff at conventions. I love the atmosphere, and the opportunity to people-watch and hang out with like-minded nerds, and most of the time things like panels, screenings, and celebrity guests are just icing. I can probably count on two hands all the panels I’ve been to in my con-going life, and that’s out of sixteen conventions.

This lead-up is all an excuse to explain why I don’t have any first-hand news from any NYCC panels or photos of myself with famous guests—we didn’t bother seeking any out.  There were only a few panels that sounded interesting to us, (Marvel in Television, the Firefly panel) but we have tremendously short patience for lines, and in the latter case, only part of our group had seen Firefly and we weren’t going to force them to wait for it without even an interest in it.

There were approximately 116,000 people at NYCC, and we had enough trouble just getting from one place to another in the Javits Center without drowning in Homestucks, let alone finding the rooms where actual panels were happening.

So, rather than a roundup of all the cool nerd news that came out of our gripping journalistic coverage of New York Comic Con, this is going to be a Best Of Cosplay roundup instead. Check out the slideshow or hit the jump for the gallery of our highlights!

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Cosplay Questions: Crossplay and You

Crossplay is a popular term for cosplaying as a character of a different gender than your own (not to be confused with genderbending). It’s beyond common in the world of cosplay for a variety of reasons.

Gender Freedom: Part of the joy of cosplaying is being able to be someone other than your day-to-day self in a safe space. And this certainly extends to crossplay. Anime conventions are a very open and accepting space in my experience, and whether you identify as trans* or just want to be someone else for the day, a con is an excellent place to explore that freedom. Crossplaying is all about performing a different gender than the one you were born with.

Character Preference: I think this is a big one. Let’s face it—sometimes your favorite character’s gender doesn’t match up with your own. This is an especially common problem for female cosplayers, because, let’s face it, anime in general can be pretty lacking when it comes to strong female characters and/or realistic-looking female characters. Sometimes it’s fun to be what I sometimes call a ‘hair-and-boobs’ character (think, Yoko, Erza, Shura, Blue Rose, Mikuru, Patty, etc) but sometimes you just really want to be Kamina or Gajeel or Mephisto or Kotetsu or Kyon or Blackstar.

The reverse is also true, although less common: compared to the number of females cosplaying as dude characters, I’ve only ever seen a handful of guys cosplaying as ladies. I think this is because of a combination of factors: firstly, as I pointed out, there tends to be a dearth of awesome ladies in anime; secondly, guys have to face a lot of weird societal stigmas when they crossplay as girls that girls are less likely to face.

My cosplaying husbando Nakura, whose crossplays wildly outnumber her female cosplays, put it rather eloquently when I asked her her thoughts. She says that crossplay can be a challenge, especially considering the often extreme body types of both male and female anime characters, which can make it harder to cross over. However, she says, “If a crossplay is good, however, it’s not gonna matter if it’s a girl or a boy; people will love it either way. Good costumes are good costumes, no matter which gender it is and which gender is wearing them.”

Are there any cosplayers in our audience? Have you crossplayed, and what was your experience?