Nerd Culture

Women in Cosplay: The Heroic Task of Putting Up With Other People's Opinions at San Diego Comic-Con 2014

Ladies, the time of female cosplay is here, and it's a great thing. If you're looking to inject a little escapism into your day-to-day grind, dressing up as your favorite superhero and stomping around a convention like you own the place is the way to go. All rude comments and creepy dudes aside, the experience is overall positive as attitudes in the nerd community shift to include women more and more. For me, San Diego Comic-Con 2014 was more about checking out amazing cosplay than it was getting a posted signed by the Vampire Diaries cast.

See also: Slideshow - Partying at Comic-Con 2014

I'll be honest. In the first 10 minutes of being at SDCC 2014, I narrowly escaped a butt grab (my friend wasn't so lucky). After mumbling something angrily at the personal space invader, he said that he would "like to pay [me] to choke [him]." I would have gladly done so for free... to completion. Yuck.

However, times are changing and idiots like that are the minority. Most people are genuinely excited to snap a picture with you if your costume is on point. There is more of a focus on costume construction and the effort put into cosplay than on the fleshy bits exposed or underneath the costume.

While I will admit to having a little frustration with the women who basically put on a red and blue bikini, a cape, some boots, and a golden head band and think that passes for Wonder Woman, I think those days are fading. For every nearly nude rendition of classic (some might say obvious) costume choices, there are likely 10 more outfits that showcase the skill it takes to go for realism or even a new take (i.e. crossplay) on a few ideas. I did see a new Thor (the female kind) in a bikini top, but homegirl had some pretty impressive abs, which made her exposed midriff a lot more relevant to her costume.

True, you don't have to have a washboard tummy to cosplay well. Lord knows I don't. My point here is that bearing skin can be totally rad or it can seem a little half-baked. Wonder Woman is already sexy and maybe doesn't need to be sexed up more. I've seen gender-swapped Batman with the same bikini, cape, and mask treatment. Not impressive, but if they feel good doing it, impressing me or anyone else isn't really the point.

All bikinis aside, SDCC seems to be focusing more attention on catering to female attendees. With panels like Saturday's "Women Who Kick Ass" and several others throughout the weekend discussing gender dynamics in the nerd realm, it seems people are growing increasingly conscious of female interest in the comic-con community. It's not just for guys anymore, and when you see the meticulously crafted costumes on some ladies it's obvious that they've spent a fair amount of time and money to show that off.

It's also important to remember that the characters portrayed are often drawn voluptuously and in skin-tight, intensely revealing outfits. Rather than IRL female cosplayers opting to modest-up the appearance and tone it down, it's better to just focus on making cosplay as legit as possible.

Male superhero costumes are just as flush to the flesh (see George Clooney's Batman nipples), but are they slutty? No. Seeing grown men in fake muscle suits is way sillier than any push-up bra or fake eyelashes women cosplayers might wear.

If you don't want to be stuck as the 50th Ramona Flowers or Enid from Ghost World, just be Black Cat or Lara Croft -- mean names be damned. Like Jessica Rabbit, you're not bad, your were just drawn this way.

I think attitudes are changing, even from the first time I got to attend SDCC in 2011. It's getting better. The men intent on slut-shaming women cosplayers are beginning to wear thin, and that's comforting. I'd rather we all made fun of Gal Gadot's costume because no self-respecting Amazon would be caught in battle in those heels. But hey, it's Hollywood. What do they know?

See also: Slideshow - The Beautiful People Of Comic-Con 2014

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch