Ah yes, cosplaying. The act of dressing up as one’s favorite character; whether they be from a video game, comic book, movie, television show, or any form of anime (and oh so many other forms of media). When convention season comes around you can always expect to see people dressed up, for better or for worse, in their interpretations of characters we’ve grown to know and love. For women this poses a difficult decision, to dress slutty or not to dress slutty? Many women fall prey to the insane standards the industry has placed on the women in their games and, let’s be real, those standards are disgusting to begin with.
So, women have the choice to either dress as the already overly sexualized characters they love or to take it ones step further and make them “slutty.” Enter cosplayers such as the “Sexy Disney Princesses:”
Because in a world where Disney Princesses (an already ill-fitted role model) represent some of the only role models young women have, we need to debase them even further to prove that the only value a woman has is her body.
Cosplay has a pretty bad reputation amongst self-respecting women because of most women’s (and men’s) choice to take the “slutty” route when preparing their costumes. We’ve talked about this issue before, in slightly different terms, in Alex Layne’s article The 2 Slut Line: Promiscuity and Female Protagonists where Alex discusses the line of a woman crossing from strong/powerful to slutty. Unfortunately, what ends up being true is that this is a very thin line that a woman walks. So how does a woman cosplay without pushing herself into the “slutty” zone?
Enter world-renowned cosplayer Meagan Marie. Former Associate Editor at Game Informer and current Community Manager at Crystal Dynamics, Meagan is definitely a powerful woman in the gaming world. When she’s not keeping up with her professional duties she is quite the amazing cosplayer. (Click to see larger images)
Two Face from Batman Anya from Gears of War 3
As you can see, she covers a wide range of characters in her work including some that are very over sexualized on their own. Somehow Meagan manages to remain a powerful/strong woman representing characters that may not have the ability to be strong or powerful because of their “assets.” How does she manage to do this? Because she stays true to the character while bringing her own tenacity to each character as she sees fit. Authenticity of the character and a already powerful persona push her cosplay far away from the slut side of the line. I’m not trying to say that she’s the only cosplayer in the world that’s able to do this, but currently I would have to say that she is the most well-received and well-known name in cosplay. She was invited as a special guest to the 2012 SOFA convention, the Gears of War 3 launch in Paris, and plenty more conventions across the United States. As a woman surrounded by a world full of sexual harassment, misogyny, and under-representation I’d have to say she comes out on top. In the end, what matters most is that she is a woman I would consider to be a great role model for young girls looking into the world of video games and that doesn’t happen too often.
Another woman who is able to remain on the strong and powerful side of the cosplaying slut line is Anna Moleva, who was recently hired by Irrational Games to be the official face of Bioshock Infinite. And you know what makes her cosplay great? Authenticity. Moleva has an amazing ability to bring a feeling and look of truth to the characters she dresses up as. Obviously people are responding to it because she emulated Bioshock Infinite’s main female protagonist well enough to get the attention of the studio and fans of the franchise around the world. Now that she will become more intimately involved with the industry it will be interesting to see her grow into an even stronger female role model.
Author’s note: This is also a brief introduction to Meagan Marie because we will soon have her on our podcast to talk about her experiences as a woman in the industry. Look for it soon!
Also, seriously check out her Facebook page to see the rest of her astounding cosplay.