This is the post where we are going to enter the world of fan conventions. Fan Conventions can be considered anything that carries a fan base – film, television, comics, books, actors, or genres of literature. Fan conventions have evolved to include aspects of role-playing, costume play, and direct interaction with the producers, actors, and writers of the selected item.
Recently a FAR colleague sent us writers an article entitled, “Toward a New Understanding of Modesty,” and asked if any of us would like to comment on it. I dove at the chance, pun intended. Not only did the article address the politics of swimwear (a kind of clothing I spent nearly a third of my life wearing everyday, swimming competitively for eight years), it also discussed the swimsuit designs of Jessica Rey – a former Power Ranger, the white-suited one to be specific.
The article’s author, Katelyn Beaty, explains that Rey believes, “that the now-ubiquitous bikini hurts women” because it encourages men to see women as objects to be used. Beaty states, “Rey has a mission: to get as many women as possible in one-piece swimsuits.” This mission immediately perked my attention. As a Power Ranger, Alyssa (Rey) is all too familiar with the utility of a shining, stretchy body suit. Armored head to toe in white, pink and gold lycra and spandex, sporting a skirt over her leggings, Alyssa defeats many monsters in the Power Ranger universe.
But fantasy aside, the utilitarian nature of swimwear is often overlooked in deference to “sexiness” and fashion. Bikinis are featured in most fashion magazines as the standard for bathing beauty, as is the ‘ability’ (or supposed ‘right kind of body’) to wear a bikini, aka the elusive “bikini body.”
Cosplay is often a deliberate, interpretive and self-chosen performance of gender and power. Like drag performers, cosplayers put on a show of the characters they represent; and in my experience, they often do so within diverse, supportive and principally, inclusive communities.
This week my husband sent me a great blog post he found about cosplay and one woman’s determination that she would no longer tolerate being demeaned, objectified or trivialized because of what she chooses to wear. Blogger Megan Marie’s post, entitled “What would you do if you weren’t afraid,” inspires me. She points out and refuses the trappings of rape culture: victim blaming, assumed male control over female sexuality and shame; and claims her right to be who she is. I, as fellow (what is the female equivalent for fellow???) cosplayer, was also moved by her defense of this creative art. I have been cosplaying a long time, but I have been too afraid to speak much about this or to directly protest the rejection of these fantasy images within some feminist communities. So to answer Megan Marie’s question* in her own words, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid? My answer. I’d write this blog.”
Coplay = costume + play! It is the recreation of popular characters from video games, comic books, anime, scifi series, fantasy literature or the like. Cosplayers do this for the fun of it, the craft involved, to express one’s fandom and sometimes, professionally, usually within an arena where fans can enjoy one another’s recreations. The attempt to embody these characters involves a great deal of work and artistic expression. Many conventions, like Fanime Con in San Jose, CA, host panels in which fans can learn cosplay skills, such as armor construction, wig making and costume design. I have cosplayed the following characters: Sailor Star Healer, Eudial and Sailor Iron Mouse from the anime Sailor Moon, Misa