Oh, is that all?
Now my friend was quick to mention that this is not a double standard. After all, he’d expect a man to wear a costume appropriate for his shape, too. But that’s the reason I’m titling this soapbox “Cosplay and Privilege,” because, this is one area where a man may just not recognize that he is, in fact, privileged, compared to a woman who wants to cosplay.
I have nothing against game characters wearing sexy outfits. I want to put that on the table right now, because there’s so many articles beating the drum about this everywhere, and I don’t want to add to the din. I like characters that look pretty and cool, even if their outfits are improbable.
But where it comes to someone trying to make and wear those outfits, especially around Halloween: I say, live and let live. I think there’s a line you can draw where a person may just have bad hygiene, or be in something offensively skimpy, and depending on the outfit that line might be drawn at any person’s size. But I also think that it’s a fun, harmless fantasy to dress up, and people are entitled to try on the outfit that they like.
The game industry has traditionally been okay with depicting a variety of different male body types. In lots of different video game fandoms, there is at least one fat guy. Sure, it may not be the big hero; it may be a comedy character, like Rufus from Street Fighter, or like Donut Drake. But these characters exist. And to be slightly larger in certain male roles is, if you’ll pardon the pun, not too much of a stretch.
I’m just not sure that male geeks get this: that all the cool female characters out there generally look the same. They all have a very small variety of body types, while it’s acceptable for male characters to have a wider variety of body types. And that when you say, people should only cosplay something that’s “an appropriate shape,” you’re shutting out a lot of women from a lot of options.
It’s a different situation if someone is a company spokesmodel: a professional cosplayer that is designed to advertise a product. You might call them “booth babes.” It’s understood that they’re there to wear very accurate outfits, look pretty, and draw attention to the booth. There are a variety of opinions about the appropriateness of this practice, but all I’m getting at is, if you’re hiring someone to portray someone for your advertising, then yes, she (or he) should look the part. This is simply not a category that contains every woman. Some women just want to dress up: for fun.
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