Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dead or Alive: Extreme Bikini Cosplay

By Tali’Belle Cosplay

Video games put a lot of emphasis on sex appeal, mostly for men using women, but sometimes it’s the other way around (Zevran Araini and Thane Krios are good examples of more sexualized males in video games, but there are others.) And you know what? This really isn’t a problem for me. Whatever, you wanna make a woman wear a skin tight cat suit that shows off a ton on cleavage while she guns down celestial beings or have a blue skinned space babe snap necks with her thigh high high heeled boots? That’s your business and as long as she’s still a good character with thought and energy put into her, I really don’t care. Hell, Sylvanas Windrunner and Jaina Proudmoore can have a drunken lesbian make out session in bikinis for all I care as long as they still command armies, cities, and respect while kicking ass. A sexy girl doesn’t have to be looked down upon and disrespected….

Harley Quinn and Catwoman cosplays at Comicon Chile. Copyright Javier Rosh, used under a CC License

Unless you’re in the cosplay community. So much whining of ‘Ohh this cosplayer wears such skimpy outfits!’ or ‘Ohh she’s an attention whore!’ Um….good theory, Sherlock, or maybe I could deduce a new one? Perhaps she’s going for accuracy based on a costume that really looks like that? Ladies and gents, let’s not pretend we all hate and disdain Dead or Alive or Soul Calibur or other fighting games with completely impractical outfits. They are a ton of fun and what small character development you get to see in game is fun, quirky, and diverse. But there is not a lot of variety in the nature of costumes. I could dress as Helena Douglass rather than Tina Armstrong, I could be Sophitia rather than Ivy, but there would still be a ton of cleavage and either skin tight painted on pants or a short skirt. Besides, cosplay should be about whom you love and what you feel comfortable in, not trying to cater to hypocritical slut shamers and prudes.

Soul Caliber Tira and Talim cosplay. Copyright megadem. Used under a CC License.
You know, I used to be firmly in the other camp. Cosplay shouldn’t be for attention! You’re dressing slutty! Whine whine whine, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy. But you know what? After being squarely called out on my bullshit, I took a step back and had a look. It’s not the cosplayers in skimpy costumes who are wrong, it’s the view society has that if a female dresses in something skimpy, she is dressing up for men and is an attention seeking slut. Now keeping this open ended, there may be some exceptions in the cosplay community, but this is not a piece to perpetuate slut shaming and calling people out, so if there is, here’s a bombshell: IT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS. Can they afford/make the cosplay? Do they credit people who may have contributed? Are they happy and having a good time? If you answered yes to these questions, then shut your mouth, it’s not your business why they’re cosplaying in what outfit. Crawl back into your panel and try and find a way to enjoy a con that doesn’t involve picking on others.

Oh, but costumes that actually are skimpy aren’t the only problem. Oh no, slut shamers and jerks will make a completely ordinary costume into something overtly sexual even if it covers more than a hijab and burqa. Dressing as Sue Storm or Harley Quinn? Too tight! Ugh! All that slutty, slutty spandex! Hell, even when I dress as Tali, I still get the occasional: Oh, it’s hugging her body so tightly, she totally wants attention, she’s totally getting off on Talimancers looking at her. Or maybe I just really like and identify with this character.

 And of course, as mentioned before, if your body is anything less than perfect then a ‘skimpy’ or ‘tight’ costume can be used as an excuse to take you down a peg and call you out on things because how dare you have the self-confidence to dress as a character you enjoy without being a Barbie!? Actually, this is one of the reasons Dragon Con is now my home con and not Otakon. At Otakon, catty high school aged weeaboos had begun to reign supreme. Woe to any Yoko Litner over a hundred pounds, death be upon a Seras Victoria with thick thighs. I was a ‘fat cosplayer’ there because I have large hips and my belly isn’t perfectly flat. But at Dragon Con, there were lovely ladies of every size in outfits ranging from full armor to chain mail bikinis and no one batted an eyelash I heard maybe one catty comment all week, and that was craftsmanship related and they probably thought no one could hear them anyway. No one was mean to people. My boyfriend Robert and I even got thunderous applause at the costume contest despite my thighs and belly and his magnificent chest hair peeking out of his robe.

Yaya Han as Emma Frost, from the mistress's Facebook Page
But I digress. Are you conventionally attractive and in a skimpy costume? Don’t worry; the slutshaming nitpickers haven’t forgotten you. I’m going to gush about my idol, Yaya Han, again for a while. Yaya recently got a show on Sci Fi called Heroes of Cosplay. It was highly controversial and created a bit of a rift in the cosplay community, but as long as you accepted it as reality TV, it was honestly harmless and actually kind of fun to watch. Plus it helped my mom understand my hobby better, so Yaya, if you happen to be linked this or Google yourself and find this, thanks! You had a hand in helping me get a little extra help paying for costuming school and materials to start a small business!

But anyway, immediately some other cosplayers I used to idolize let out their claws and showed how ugly their egos can be when they tore into Yaya about tiny minute details that any cosplayer could overlook. ‘Her contacts for Fiora Nightraven are the wrong color!’ ‘Domino doesn’t use that weapon!’ ‘Emma Frost doesn’t wear pants like that!’ (Actually, yes she does sometimes and also Yaya outright said she wasn’t comfortable cosplaying in a thong, hence the pants.) The vitriol went on obsessively to the point where it was no longer a critique on controversial things in her show, it was tearing down a fellow cosplayer who is doing what she loves and working tirelessly to run a business, promote our hobby as normal and interesting, and still have a good time. Not to mention the age shaming. They said she was ‘aging’ because she’s over twenty-five. Now you tell me who’s making cosplay look bad. A cosplayer who dresses sexy or a cosplayer who talks cruelly about others?

The cosplay community is so quick to accuse each other of attention whoring and being a ‘fake geek’ (which I will address next week), and forget that skimpy costumes and sexy outfits come from a point of accuracy. It rings a mite hypocritical to say ‘I need my Asari tendrils to feel EXACTLY LIKE CARTILEGE SO IT’S ACCURATE!’ or ‘I need to use nothing but real Italian leather in my Zevran cosplay!’ and then throw a shit fit because you see an Arkham City Harley Quinn prancing around in a bra with her thong showing, or a Tiny Armstrong in a bikini.

 Tali'Belle is a fashion and costume design student with twelve years of cosplay experience. She operates Fleet and Flotilla: Dextro Couture and Salvage on Etsy. Her main cosplay is Tali'Zorah Vas Normandy and her current preferred convention is Dragon Con. You can keep up with her on DeviantArt  or Twitter. And of course, you can find her posts here on I Feel Delicious!

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