Faces of Cosplay: Average Asian Cosplay

“Always strive for more but never stop learning. Ask questions. Reach out to the cosplay community. Other cosplayers are usually willing to help.”

Paul fire

As I read and research and write about cosplay, I’m continually encouraged by just how diverse and interesting the cosplay community really is. With that in mind, I’d like to widen the scope of this blog to showcase the work and stories of other cosplayers of all ages, gender identities and backgrounds.  This week we will kick off with an award-winning cosplayer I met at the Arkansas Anime Festival in the spring of 2015.

Cosplay daughter had brought her Hiro supersuit and I was cosplaying his aunt. Our first stop was a Disney meet-up and panel down the dim hall of the Springdale Holiday Inn. As I stood outside the room, I saw my “nephew” Tadashi approach and squealed in delight: “TADASHI!!!!!”  and he replied, in perfect character- “Hi Aunt Cass.” That’s how we met.

Hamada family

Name: Average Asian Cosplay

Day job: Graphic Designer and Sales at a sign shop

Age: 29

Home base: Wichita, Kansas USA

Why do you cosplay?

The joy of bringing a fictional character to life. Being able to take something that is two dimensional and bring it to the real world.

How long have you been cosplaying?

I have been cosplaying since 2010.

How do you choose your character(s)?

I choose a character depending on how they look and act. I usually want ones that I don’t need to change my own look too much. Also characters that people could easily recognize.

Do you have a signature, or favorite cosplay?

My main cosplays are Mako from Legend of Korra and Spark from Pokemon GO. Both of these cosplays are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Spark is fun because I also made a large Zapdos that stays perched on my arm.

Paul Pokemon

 

Do you make, or buy your cosplays?

I buy and make my cosplays. The ones I compete with are made. The ones I just want to have fun at a con with are usually purchased.

What advice do you have to other cosplayers?

Have fun with cosplay. Don’t worry about what other people think about you or your cosplay. If you are competing and do not win, it isn’t that you didn’t do well, it is because someone just did it better. Always strive for more but never stop learning. Ask questions. Reach out to the cosplay community. Other cosplayers are usually willing to help.

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

I always enjoy it when kids want to take a picture with me and then want to brag to their sibling about it.

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

It would have to be someone who asks why I cosplayed a certain character even though I don’t look like them or don’t have the correct body type.

Do you attend conventions?

I attend multiple conventions throughout the Midwest with the occasional con outside the region.

Which is your favorite?

My favorite convention would have to be Tokyo in Tulsa because it was my first convention and where I’ve met many of I’ve met many of my cosplay friends.

Showing the World Who You Are: Cosplay Identities

Cosplay daughter went to school today rocking her Hogwarts House Colors. And with a wand.

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Wearing also, a vial of wolfsbane. We all remember what a dangerous zoo high school could be.

 

She’s very proud of having been sorted into Ravenclaw by the official sorting hat on the Pottermore website.

Ravenclaw-Traits-ravenclaw-38754843-1149-694

….for the record, I was surprisingly sorted into Gryffindor.  I was dead certain that I’d be Ravenclaw myself. Huh.

But it does make my McConagall cosplay make more sense:

mcgonagall

Me and a small 8-year-old cosplay daughter at the release party for the Deathly Hallows. May have actually been her first official cosplay: Hermione, of course.  Fuzzy photo, but note time turner! She won the children’s division- first place.

That my daughter and I were sorted into different houses surprises me not a bit.  She has my blond hair….and that’s about it. We are very different on the inside, in talents, personality and approach to the world.

What we look like on the outside (similar, like mother and daughter) isn’t truly indicative of who we are on the inside.

In my beauty class at the university, we are winding up a unit on beauty and identity- how outward appearances signal inner worth and identity.  We talk about the French philosopher Paul Valery’s theory of three bodies, where the second body (your outer appearance) is a reflection of the first body (who you are inside). As Nancy Etcoff says, we all seek to show the world who we really are, by what we look like- AND wde all strive for an outer appearance that shows the world what we’d like to be.

This seems particularly true to me in the world of cosplay.  Cosplay is the practice of choosing the identity that you’d like to have, or wish you had, or feel you DO have, and showing it more specifically to the world.

Few people to cosplay the characters that no one likes- the mean ones or the stupid ones.

Cosplay daughter recently attended a convention (Naka-Kon) in her Yang cosplay, and went to a RWBY  meet-up.

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She’s the Yang in the aviator sunglasses, front and center

I love the story this photo tells about cosplay choices.

There are six Yangs (one of them gender-bent) and six Rubys (two of them gender-bent), four blakes (one gender-bent) but only two Weiss cosplayers.

Why only two Weiss?

Because no body likes her. She’s the spoiled, bitchy character from RWBY. The mean girl.

We choose to cosplay characters we admire, both because they are like what we feel like inside, and represent elements of who we’d like to be.

I love how the cosplay community recognizes that this might mean that you want to crossplay a character whose biological gender is different than yours, like, say cosplay daughter does when she cosplays 2-D from the Gorillaz (a new cosplay)

Gorillaz Naka kon

Lounging, with melodica, on the right

and it’s also a great choice to gender-bend your cosplay, take the inspiration of the character, his/her strengths, style, power and value, and make a version of it that fits your own biological gender. (I love the guy rocking the ruby-red hat as Ruby in the above photo).

We all make choices about how our appearance communicates our identity to the world.

Cosplay widens the possibilities for people- male, female, young, old, etc. in what they can show.

Today, my daughter went to school with a wand and house tie that she’s proud to know represents intuition, originality, wit, eloquence, intelligence, and all the other traits listed above in the Ravenclaw image.

How wonderful is it that she has that chance? That she’s empowered by both the great literary work of Rowling AND the cosplay community to confidently claim these traits as part of the identity she feels and the self she shows the world.

What else could a Mom ask for?

Writing this, I am actually even more determined to do a cosplay that I’ve been talking about for years- a weary, bad-ass Mom who will do anything to keep fighting both intractable bureaucracy and the monsters who threaten her girl.

I really need to cosplay Ripley. That’s how I feel on the inside. Time to show you all.

ripley-and-newt

 

 

 

How to Get a Portal Gun Through Airport Security: Pax South 2016

It’s time for cosplay daughter to start looking at colleges.

Obviously, she wants to attend one where she work on coding, game design, art and costume design, so off to liberal arts places we go!

First stop was Trinity University in San Antonio Texas- a lovely school with a kick-ass costume shop.

As far as I was concerned, our trip to San Antonio was about checking out the college. For cosplay daughter? It was about PAX SOUTH.

pax south

Pax is a set of five super-humongous gaming conventions that started out as industry events, and are now pilgrimage points for the serious gamers and related fandoms. So of course we coordinated the trip to Trinity with the convention. I’m that kind of cosplay Mom.

She was pretty excited when the passes came.

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And of COURSE, she would have to cosplay at this convention, and cosplay an appropriate video game character.

she decided to go with Chell, from Portal 2- an early favorite. The object of the game is to solve a maze by shooting blue and orange “portals” through and around and between walls to escape.  To do this, Chell uses a fancy gun:

portal-2-chell

While also evading evil robots.

 

Cosplay daughter has been cosplaying Chell for some time, and wanted to take that cosplay to Pax.

Kira Chell

But…..this meant that we needed to get her new Portal Gun safely through airport security, in one piece, and without any of us getting arrested.

Which of course would be an adventure.

It’s not a thing you can pack in your checked bag. It’s got delicate little feet and feelers.

So we carried it on.

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Very early morning flight, with portal device, combat boots and thankfully supportive cosplay stepdad.

Here we go.

The first rule is: in an airport, it’s not a portal GUN. It’s a PORTAL DEVICE.

This is important if you want to make it to the convention without being hustled off to a back room and strip-searched.

Doesn’t mean, though that security (and others) will not still be interested.  She got to explain what “that thing” was to various TSA officers, (one of whom couldn’t wait to watch the face of the lady running the x-ray machine when it went through).

tsa

But, even once we got past security, the questions continued.

As a note, if you are sitting in an airport waiting lounge like this:

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Two things will happen:

  1. LOTS of people are going to ask you: “what IS that thing!?!?” and of course, you can tell them, but it won’t help the majority of them.  They have no idea what you’re talking about. We started saying it was a toy, or prop. Most walked away with puzzled expressions.
  2. You will find all the nerds and gamers in the airport, most of whom are going to the same convention as you.  They will say “nice portal gun” and you will shush them hurriedly:  “DEVICE! it’s a portal DEVICE!”

In the end, the DEVICE made it to the convention safely.

P1000018

She was a big hit:

P1000017

P1000015

And made a bunch of new friends.

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oh, and yeah, really liked the university too.

Yang Xiao Long on the Sulaco- Arkansas Anime Festival T-Minus 19 Days

Ok, folks, here we go- New cosplay project!

Armed with a NEW, heavy duty sewing machine,

Yay! Currently brainstorming names for her. I'm thinking maybe Sulaco.

Yay! Currently brainstorming names for her. I’m thinking maybe Sulaco.

and we’re ready to take on a new Cosplay for our next convention:  The Arkansas Anime Festival (A2F).

Cosplay daughter realizes that much of her cosplay is gaming-based, which is fine, but she wanted an Anime costume for A2F.  She’s been wanting to try for Yang cosplay for a while, and we’re going to go for it:

IMG_2454

Once again, this is a cosplay from a show (RWBY) that I don’t know, but apparently she’s not only smart, and funny (apparently spouting bad puns like weapons)…..

Yang pun

…..but has awesome fighting skills:  super strength in her punch, which is linked to the gauntlets that also fire bullets.  When she’s really angry, her hair also flames, and she can take down a whole building with her fists.  She’s a huntress, fighting monsters.

I understand why daughter (newly training in Kenpo) loves this character.

rwby___yang___mystic_arte_by_iceninjax77-d6mql5m

So here we go.  Armed with a modest budget, we hit JoAnn fabrics yesterday, and then, of course, the thrift stores.  Can we make this cosplay for less than $100? Let’s find out.

(Looking at the cosplay.com website for advice yesterday, I saw that one of the member’s mottos was “Nothing is impossible, but some things are very expensive.” So. Very. True.

It’s easy to drop hundreds of dollars on one of these projects in small pieces. We have to avoid that this time- I have to save for us to go to Pax South in January)

Cosplay daughter is an inveterate internet and thrift shopper, though.

We found second hand boots that would work, and by last evening, she had altered them, made the scarves to go on top and the sock/sleeve for her left leg.

IMG_2459

Here working, while watching RWBY for inspiration. That’s Yang on the screen.

The boots and scarves.

The boots and scarves.

Today we start tackling the jacket- T Minus 19 days and still under budget.

Wish us luck!

Cat Cosplay: Feline Fine….

So the other day, a friend posted this photo to my Facebook timeline:

sailor mewn

Anime fans will quickly recognize this character as “Sailor Mewn”- feline Sailor Moon.

My cats may never forgive her.

It turns out that there is a whole, glorious world of CAT COSPLAY!

How fun is that?

Well, fun for the humans, anyway. (Though I have to say that Sailor Mewn, there, doesn’t look upset.)

We have the two cats: one princess and one street urchin with PTSD.

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Cosplay daughter with both kitties. The calico, Abby, and her royal highness, Princess Fluffbucket (aka Pearl).

Cosplay daughter has been dressing them up for years- the princess even once won a pet costume contest for Halloween- (I think because she was the only cat entered).

Turns out that clothes from

Turns out that clothes from “Build-a-Bear” fit the cats perfectly.

Until this, though, I don’t know that she had considered actual cosplay for the kitties.

I hadn’t either.

I sure am NOW!

To be fair, our street urchin, Abby, doesn’t really need an actual costume to cosplay.  If she weren’t afraid of EVERYTHING (humans walking into a room, humans walking out of a room, saran wrap, the washing machine, etc.)  Abby would be a perfect Mochi for our Hiro and Aunt Cass cosplay:

“BIG HERO 6” ©2014 Disney. All Rights Reserved. Well, not PERFECT- she’s clearly not fat enough. But we never let body shape deter us in our cosplay choices. This is a body-shaming free zone!

Abby would never make it through a convention, though.  As esposo (recently upgraded from novio!) has observed, Abby is sure that EVERYTHING means that the apocalypse is upon us.

That leaves Princess Pearl, Empress of Everything.

I’m thinking Elsa:

perruque-elsa-frozen

 

Light fur, big blue eyes. Fabulous, high-maintenance, feline-in-charge.

Stay tuned. There may be Elsa cat cosplay!

Update: Cosplay daughter says that while she is totally on board for Cat Cosplay, there is NO WAY she’s dressing Pearl up as a “overrated Drury Princess.” (not a Frozen fan- though I think that’s from the ubiquity of the franchise more than anything else.)

we’ll see. Daughter suggests perhaps Cinderella…..

The “Artistic Temperament” : Dispatches from Cosplacon Part I

Hello, and greetings from Cosplacon in Jefferson City!

One whole big hotel of cosplayers wearing everything from papier-mache anime heads to ghostbuster uniforms (complete with unlicensed nuclear accelerators). This is cosplay daughter’s favorite convention because it’s all about the cosplay. 🙂

The creativity and artistry on display here is amazing (photos soon, I promise!) and that has me thinking this morning about a subject that has occupied my attention of late- “the artistic temprament.”

I’m not an artist myself. I would never claim that title. This modest experiment in creative nonfiction (and the occasional steampunk hat) are but small forays into that landscape.  I’m at best a technician and wordsmith.

I know this, because I recognize a true artist in my daughter, and her best friend.

I also recognize it in the amazing folks I’ve met in and through this cosplay adventure, like my friend Sarah in the UK, who built/sewed/fabricated this Rocket Racoon FROM SCRATCH.

Sarah as Rocket

I also see it in the amazing creativity on display, the shipping and combinations on view at a convention like this: Hello Kitty Darth Vaders.  Master Chief as Master Chef.

I am amazed and impressed by these artists.

But as a Mom (which is a key element of this particular blog) I also see the struggles and challenges of being a member of that tribe.

I’ve written before about cosplay daughter’s strict attention and near-obsession with detail.  She sees minute differences and shadings that I simply don’t. She finds variations of color and configuration that I can’t even perceive to be ESSENTIAL to her design.  And sometimes, when she can’t realize her vision, she just simply refuses to go on.

(Remember those long fall boots? My first blog post? They’re sill in pieces in the garage.  Every once in a while she mentions them, but hasn’t returned to try and make them work.)

I saw that kind of thing again over the last couple of weeks with another artist (who needn’t be identified by name here, it’s not important) a costume and clothing designer.  She had invited me, cosplay daughter and cosplay best friend to model in a fashion show here at cosplacon. The theme was to be the ball scene in Labyrinth.

Labrynth

I was going to get to wear a BALL GOWN AND CREEPY MASK. Made by a REAL COSTUME DESIGNER. I was STOKED. The girls were too. How fabulous!

But then- attention to and control of detail. Costume designer communicates that she will need all three of us to commit to showing up for hair/make-up, rehearsals and photos at 11:30, for a 5:00 show that lasts until 6.  And during that time we are sequestered so as to not ruin the moment when we appear.

Wow. Ok, that’s a deal breaker for the girls, who aren’t excited enough to give 7 hours of their convention day to realize the vision and promote the business of someone else.  It’s a bit much to ask.

But I’m still in! (*chanting*)  Ball gown! Ball gown!

and then, just a few days before the convention, the designer reveals that she is simply not happy with the level of detail and scheduling notes that she’s getting from the convention (which like most of these events is volunteer run by young people with day jobs).  She won’t compromise her vision or risk the time and control she needs to make her art happen.

So she pulls out and refuses to participate. Rats.

As the girls would say: “sad face.”

sad face

So- was this a bit self-important and divaesque? Maybe. The convention organizers apparently thought so.

But here’s my observation- this is the kind of attitude and approach that makes the art fabulous to begin with. That attention to detail and confidence to demand that it be right or not happen at all is what can give us great works.

But it’s also hard and challenging- for the artist and for the fans/supporters.  I really was looking forward to that fashion show. I have also spent hundreds of dollars on a pair of boots that are still in pieces in my garage.

Both things are frustrating.

and the artists themselves- when they disappear in Salingeresque fashion, can lose business, or fans and then no one gets to see or appreciate their work.

There’s lots of definitions out on in the internet of the “artistic temperament”- everything from medical dictionary references to mood swings and blasts of creative energy; to centuries-old meditations on originality and self-involved self expression.

But I’m not sure any of these are really important or really capture my new experiences of being a artist groupie.

I do, however, often think of  Deborah Harkness’ amazing All Souls trilogy in which all artists (from playwright Kit Marlowe to mathematician and astronomer Thomas Harriot)  are actually daemons- brilliant, magical, vague, fickle, creative and destructive all at once.

Do I think my artist friends and family are daemons?

Of course not.

Do I think those artistic folks that surround me have abilities that seem otherworldly in their magic and inscrutability?

Yes. 

And how wonderful, challenging, rewarding and frustrating is it that I get to travel alongside of them?

more from Cosplacon later! I promise!

Hamada Family Reunion: Supersuits, Inflatable Robots and Happy Bakers

Wow! Too long since I’ve written a post!

First the end of the university’s academic year, then the run-up to the convention meant that I couldn’t find the time  to play in the cosplaymom sandbox.

But now, here we are at the Arkansas Anime Festival (A2F)  for the costume competition, to run some panels and for general fun, merriment and binging on pocky.

I had a cosplay parenting panel, and cosplay daughter participated in a Pan-Disney panel  that included a diverse array of characters, from Belle to Peter Pan to Hiro and Tadashi.  It was a great opportunity for a Hamada “family reunion”

Cosplay daughter, had coplayed Hiro Hamada before as “casual Hiro”

Casual Hiro

IMG_1530

That’s the previous A2F. Now, however, after 6 months of construction, painting, hot glue burns and exacto knife cuts, cosplay daughter was ready to show off the Hiro supersuit….

Hiro supersuit

Kira Hiro supersuit

I’m very proud of this look- she made this entirely herself from scratch, with no help from me.  She used EVA foam mats from Lowe’s (the kind you use to put on the floor of a play area or work area), the heat gun that novio gave her for Christmas, and at least three different kinds of adhesive/glue.

 (This is where I still have value. In the shopping. As bankroll…)

I loved how proud she was of it, and enjoyed how many small people wanted their photo with her this weekend.  The young ‘uns knew EXACTLY who she was and truly appreciated it!)

But I also love this cosplay because it let me participate. As HIro’s Aunt Cass;

Aunt Cass

It was PERFECT because I could be effervescently enthusiastic, and she didn’t have to fake her exasperation!

Cass and Hiro 1

Cass and Hiro 2

and then as a bonus,  at cosplay daughter’s Disney panel, the rest of the family was there…

Hiro’s brother Tadashi…

Hamada family

and even Baymax!

Baymax cropped

Cosplay daughter won the Judge’s Choice award, I got to play with worbla in the cosplay-playroom and I met some great other cosplay parents/uncles/grandparents….as well as Obi-Wan Obama (more about that in another post.)

One summer convention down! Now on to Cosplacon in June!

Problematic Genitalia: The Unknown World of Cosplay Superhero Naughty Parts

NOTE: as you might imagine a post titled “problematic genitalia” would, this post contains a whole bunch of correct terms and euphemisms for the male and female reproductive organs.  It’s also full of nerdy scholarly musings. You can decide which is scarier.

A couple of months ago, another member of my Costuming Guild   posted a friendly suggested link on cosplay cleavage, with the note that it might be of use to the ladies of the group who were wanting to cosplay superheroes.

cosplay cleavage 1

Now, like a good feminist, gender-scholar mother, I got all hot and bothered and posted a passive-agressively snide comment in reply-  hoping to see a tutorial on how to make men’s genitalia look bigger for cosplay.

And that’s when I learned something fascinating.  Guys cosplaying superheroes actually have the OPPOSITE problem.

They have to minimize, reduce and hide all of their business.

The gentleman who runs the guild is a Batman cosplayer  who pointed out that this is the challenge for men.  I had no idea. 

However, any amount of time investigating the subject in online tutorials and message boards reveals a significant amount of angst, anxiety and outright disgust about the visibility of men’s reproductive organs as part of a superhero cosplay.

For example, a favorite site of mine: www.cosplay.com.  Has a new thread in a discussion forum, titled “How to Hide Your Junk in Spandex.” in which the user posts:

looking for advice on how to hide my “Junk” when wearing spiderman suit. Ive seen lots of pictures of guys in superhero spandex, and there is that crotch “thumb”. (and it looks ridiculous).

Luckily for the cosplayer in question, the internet is also full of instructional descriptions, videos and pictoral representations on how to “tuck and tape.”

Fascinating. (she said, raising a Vulcan eyebrow)

But WHY?

Isn’t it interesting that women are coached and expected to play up their private parts, and men have been trained to hide theirs? That men themselves see the VPL (visible penis line) as “ridiculous?”

Turns out that even in major films, there is a great deal of effort that goes into hiding superhero packages.  This article details how Superman was digitally altered in post-production, and the new Spiderman necessitated a “new ‘high tech’ designed costume. A source on the set stated, “One whole day was devoted to make sure there was nothing inappropriate showing in the crotch area of the suit.”

Maybe this is the answer? Men’s genitalia are “inappropriate” for public view, while women’s breasts are fair game for everyone to look at?

Gender scholars will say that the latter is old, and well-trod territory. That women’s bodies have been viewed (and are viewed as public property and since forever.  Through the multiplication of images of idealized female bodies in the media, women even learn to see themselves through the eyes of others.   (That’s  just one link, there’s a whole literature on this for anyone who is interested.)

male gaze

This study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln confirmed that men’s visual focus is mainly on the sexual body parts, whereas women generally focus on faces. Surprising…..not at all.

So men, and the media, enjoy looking at breasts. Women learn to conform by making theirs more visible. Ok.

But this isn’t helping me with the issue of hiding male penises.  Superheroes are by definition, powerful and strong- almost hyper-masculine in their violence and contribution to the phenomenon of progressive muscularity.

muscularity superheroes

Social psychology researchers used these images in a study on men’s identification with superheroes. It’s also worthwhile to compare the image of Adam West as Batman with that of Christian Bale in the same role.

But if you search for advice on hiding male genitalia, two kinds of returns come up- superheroes and crossdressing (men dressing as women.)  Surely the penis is the most masculine of male body parts- since only men have them. Hence the desire to hide the part if dressing as a woman.  What’s the link, though, to superheroes?

Much of my thinking on this wonders if the disconnect is a product of specifically U.S., puritanical hang-ups about sex and our easy acceptance of violence.

We don’t seem to care how much violence we surround ourselves with in film (this study found that the amount of gun violence in films rated PG-13 has tripled since 1985), but we would prefer that our kids not even think about sex. (E.g. abstinence-only sex education)

But perhaps more on point is this study that found that in the period from 1950-2006, the roles of men and women in action films were increasingly polarized:

“women are typically portrayed in a sexualized manner. Despite the emergence of violent female action characters in more recent films (e.g., Lara Croft), violent portrayals in movies are overwhelmingly by male characters.”

So maybe that’s it. Women, show your breasts, men, show your muscles.

As a Mom and a human, I don’t think I care for either of those messages- for girls or for boys growing up.

And in the world of superheroes, it makes one speculate about what each character’s “super-powers” really are.

Costuming Philosophy: What Kind of Footwear Does it Take to Kick Ass?

Cosplay daughter and I just completed a shopping juggernaut looking for sensible, Victorian-style boots for an Elizabeth (Bio Shock) cosplay.

Elizabeth2

This was hardly my first rodeo when it came to trying to buy, borrow, beg or build cosplay footwear.

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about Cosplay Daughter’s odyssey to construct Chell’s boots from Portal 2:

long fall boots

And when I showed the essay and photos to my writing group it provoked a discussion about the whole “superheroine in heels” thing* that drives Cosplay Daughter (and others) nuts.  There are clearly some particular challenges for women in cosplay in this area.

Full disclosure: both my teenage self, and later, Cosplay Daughter as an 8-year old (watching on dvd) loved the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman program.

Wonder Woman TV show

It was fun, and fantastical and certainly never, never accurate- historically -or in any other way. And I doubt either one of us noticed her boots.

So with those warm, early-childhood memories. Cosplay daughter and I were excited to hear about a reboot of Wonder Woman as a television program:  a new Wonder Woman for the twenty-first century.  You may have never heard of this show, and that’s because it never got off the ground, in part because of the outfit:

adrianne-palicki-wonder-woman-tv-show

There was a LOT of public criticism of this supersuit- from the rubber pants, to the provocative pose-  (there was significant repetition of the words “cheap” and “porno” in the online descriptions).

But for me, it’s the boots. Those look like at least 4 inch heels. How, exactly, does one fight the bad guys whilst standing on tiptoe stilts? (Even if one IS an Amazon).

Suspend disbelief! You say. 

It’s a comic book! You say. 

Men are represented in equally unlikely and anatomically impossible fashion! You say.

And all of that is true.  But all of this makes it much harder to cosplay.

(As an aside, Cosplay Daughter and I had a wonderful conversation in Bed, Bath and Beyond, of all places, with a friendly young sales guy who would love to cosplay Brick, from Borderlands,

Brick

but expressed tentative self-consciousness about being buff enough. Obviously, NO ONE is buff enough).

I have to say though, that at least the exaggeration in his muscles makes sense for his character-  the physique looks like it was built to kick ass. 

So we’re back to the question, which is apparently limited to female characters- What Kind of Footwear Does it Take to Kick Ass?

I cannot say, with a straight face, that Cosplay daughter is in favor of sensible footwear on femme heroes.

(Remember, I have an entire post dedicated to trying to construct the ridiculously elaborate footwear pictured at the beginning of this post).

But she certainly IS in favor of footwear that makes SENSE for fighting, questing and saving the day.

She notes that Harley Quinn sometimes wears high heels- but in that case, the heels are knives that she uses to stab people. The rest of the time, it’s sensible (evil) booties:

Harley_Quinn_Vol_1_19 Watch out, Superman! (The shoes look comfortable though…)

Katara wears warm leather boots and of course, Chell has the boots that are specifically designed for jumping and falling. Notably, Hit-Girl, in the Kick-Ass universe, wears combat boots.

So why the heels?

Sex appeal, clearly.

In my day job, I research beauty and physical attractiveness for women around the world, and I know that there is ample and compelling research that high heels on women increase their attractiveness to men. (The scholar in me wants to give about 14 footnotes here, but I’ll content myself with this one link).

And that’s fine. More power to anyone who works the (limbic) system to achieve personal or professional success. Succeeding in life or work is a type of kicking ass, certainly.

But for the superheroines, the first-person shooters and the supervillans, for the game characters, and for a young woman like cosplay daughter, who is seeking to achieve her goals and demonstrate artistic, intellectual and skill-based power and effectiveness, I come down in favor of the logical footwear.

What kind of footwear does it take to kick-ass?

The kind that shows your skill and highlights your strengths.

Whatever those are.

*(Many thanks to dear writing friend Katie who asked the question that provoked this essay)