I spent quite a bit of time mulling over what I could write about for my first blog post. I have four pages full of ideas, and I really wanted the first post to be something significant, something that was a good example of my writing style and the kinds of ideas I want to put forth. I finally settled on one of the experiences I had that made me reconsider starting a blog again: my trip to Comic Con.
Until three years ago when I met my boyfriend, Patrick, I had no interest in anything superhero-related. He was not going to let that fly. I’ve spent the last three years under his tutelage, learning about superheroes that I never knew existed, watching movies I never thought I would want to watch, and even reading comic books. I’ve come to really enjoy the superhero genre and what it has to offer, and because of this new enjoyment, I didn’t protest too much when Patrick suggested we go to Comic Con last month.
This event ended up being surprisingly life-changing. Particularly one panel. The name of the panel was… I mostly wanted to go to this panel because it had the word feminism in the title, but I didn’t know what Cosplay was or what to expect. I ended up learning a lot of things from this panel and from the experience in general. Here they are in a list because, well, lists are fun:
1. When women are scantily clad, it’s the biggest of deals. When men are, it’s funny and nobody really cares.
I saw a lot of women this weekend wearing practically nothing. I also saw a lot of men wearing practically nothing. The difference is that there was an entire panel discussion about women wearing practically nothing and whether or not that is empowering, appropriate, etc. A woman attending this panel was incredibly offended by other women walking around in revealing costumes. She was arguing that it’s bad for children to see breasts and midriffs. But apparently it’s okay for kids to see a man walking around in a Speedo, a skin tight morph suit, or even a slave Leia costume.
2. Women (and men) who wear what they want are cool.
I will admit, when I first saw some of these women and their costumes, I thought to myself, “why are they wearing those? They’re not fit enough to show off their stomachs.” I’m now embarrassed that I thought such a thing. I realize that my judgment came from jealousy and the fact that I’ve been conditioned to think that the only way a woman can bare her stomach is if she has six-pack abs. This idea is obviously false. I’m legitimately jealous of women who are confident enough to wear whatever the hell they want. I would like to be one of those women someday.
3. Women and men should be able to wear whatever they want.
Seriously. Unless someone is literally shoving their genitals in your face, it shouldn’t matter what they’re wearing. We live in a society that shames the human body so much, particularly the female body. And kids breastfeed from the moment they’re birthed. They should be used to boobs. I’m pretty sure it was the prudish parents and not the kids themselves who were offended by the revealing costumes, but the parents couldn’t admit that they themselves were uncomfortable so they hid behind their kids. Bottom line, people should be able to wear whatever they damn well please. If someone doesn’t like it, that’s fine, they’re allowed to not, but they’re also not allowed to be assholes and try to shame people for being confident and expressing themselves.
4. But, people should be wearing what they want to wear.
I’m all for people dressing the way that they want to dress, accepting and loving their bodies and feeling empowered. I think all of these things are awesome. But, I also think it’s important to question why we’re wearing what we’re wearing and who else gains from our choices. For example, I have a pretty strong feeling that a lot of the companies that produce Cosplay costumes are run by men. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I have to wonder what their angle was when they created a “Sexy Bane” costume. I don’t think they were trying to empower women.
That being said, just because these companies’ intentions are not empowerment doesn’t mean their products can’t be used to empower. If you put on the “Sexy Bane” costume and feel great about yourself, that’s awesome. But maybe stop and think about why you wanted the “Sexy Bane” costume. Think about the undoubtedly thin and conventionally beautiful model on the package of that costume–is she being empowered? Think about who is making money off of you buying this costume.
I don’t think Cosplay, revealing clothes and revealing costumes are good or bad. I think shaming women for dressing a certain way is bad, especially while ignoring the men who are essentially doing the same thing. I think dressing the way you want to dress is good. I think critical thinking and asking why you are doing what you’re doing or feeling the way you’re feeling is always good. So show off your body. Or don’t. Both are cool. But don’t police other people’s bodies or tell them what they should or shouldn’t be wearing. That’s not cool.