Hello queer ladies and other interested parties who read our blog! As many of you know, in under two weeks we will be flying to Vegas for what is promising to be the largest gathering of queer women in the United States, if not the world. As cosplay guests at this convention we wanted to make sure that the bar is set high for this singular queer convention. With such a young convention the early years of cosplayers will get to set the standards for cosplay at ClexaCon for years to come.
Last year there was a decent cosplay presence. Plenty of Officer Hauts and Clexa pairs or single Lexas were walking around, there were a few Agent Danvers and Holtzmanns with a Supergirl or two in the mix. We cosplayed Zoie Palmer’s character, Android, along with Five from Syfy’s Dark Matter which seemed unrecognizable in the crowd as neither are queer characters and closet cosplays of Carmilla and Laura from The Carmilla Series which ended up seeming more like street wear despite the wigs. This year our cosplays have doubled in quantity, quality and queerness. As we are sitting here sewing and spray painting the finishing touches we hope to have ready: White Canary and Nyssa from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, Carmilla and Laura sous ballgowns and masques from The Carmilla Movie along with our Korrasami cosplay from The Legend of Korra. We will probably still be sewing or styling wigs in our room at The Excalibur the nights before ClexaCon in preparation for this momentous event if anyone wants some individual cosplay lessons in application. As a preview to our panel, Queer & Plus Sized Cosplay, we thought we might explore some of the elements that go into cosplaying as queer and plus sized individuals, along with some helpful tips and ground rules for those planning on attending in cosplay.
1. Creating Last Minute Cosplays
Haven’t started a costume, but still want to cosplay at ClexaCon? There’s still time, all of the pros procrastinate! (We still do not have any of the four costumes completed for ClexaCon.) Maybe you do not have a workshop in which to do so or even a sewing machine? Not to worry! There are really no rules in cosplay. You can buy it, make it or a little bit of both. If you have something in your wardrobe that would work for a character you can totally pull off an amazing closet cosplay! Fortunately, many of onscreen queer women wear street clothes which are easy to thrift or modify. If you do not have a sewing machine we know an amazing queer cosplayer who is a hot glue master. Where a seam should be she simply puts down a line of hot glue and you would never know her cosplays are not hand sewn! All you need is a hot glue gun, some glue sticks and the fabric for your cosplay. We usually buy fabric from our local JoAnnes but we are always re-purposing thrifted clothes for cosplay. You can find inspiration in any piece of clothing. If it is not the right color JoAnnes and Michaels have both poly and cotton dyes. With cosplay the sky is the limit! Keep in mind, though, if your character has a prop weapon that ClexaCon does have a weapons policy and your person will be checked at the convention door, so be sure your props will make the cut!
2. Feeling Comfortable in Your Cosplay
Walking around in cosplay does take some getting used to. While we will be in Las Vegas and I am sure seeing people in ridiculous costumes and wigs is not entirely out of the ordinary, it still requires some bravery to strut down the street or through the casino floor to the convention. Even once you get in the safety of the line or the convention doors you still might feel out of place.
As we discussed in the introduction there were definitely cosplayers at last year’s ClexaCon, but most of the attendees were dressed in regular street clothes. Some even gave us strange looks, side glances or double takes. Do not let that deter you because as long as you are happy with your cosplay, nothing and no one else matters. Not everyone will know what character you are cosplaying and some might not even notice you are cosplaying at all. Recently, as the art of cosplay has become mainstream the community has been moving more towards glorifying, what in the New Mexico Cosplay Community we describe as, “Boob Models.” This means that the more revealing cosplays get more attention. Do not feel pressured by this culture to wear a cosplay that you do not feel comfortable in. That being said, if your favorite character has a revealing outfit and you want to cosplay them to the letter, go for it (provided your outfit falls withing the parameters of acceptable attire for both ClexaCon and The Tropicana). Fortunately, there are many panels and meetups at ClexaCon which offer the opportunity for specific fandoms to get together. This is the perfect place to meet others who like the character you might be cosplaying. If you’re feeling alone and there are others cosplaying the same character see if y’all can hang out at the convention so you’re not cosplaying alone.
3. Cosplay is NOT Consent
If you are recognized and fans want to take a picture with you that is awesome, but know this: cosplay is not consent. If you feel uncomfortable at any point in the process or just do not like being in pictures it is okay to say no. By wearing a costume you are not mandated to give everyone who asks a hug or let them take your picture. Your body is still your own! I did not know this cosplaying at my first convention and I was wearing a somewhat revealing cosplay. I received allot of male attention which you can guess made me uncomfortable, but I felt obligated to let these creeps hug me and hold me at the mid-drift in their pictures. I do not want this to happen to anyone else. If someone persists in making you uncomfortable ClexaCon staff had a good presence at the convention last year and were mostly recognizable. Go to the closest staff individual and let them know what is going on. I am sure they will offer you safety and handle it from there. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable just because they chose to cosplay.
4. Plus Sized Cosplay
To begin this section we want to emphasize that in cosplay, size should not matter! To quote one of our Cosplay Sempais, Ginny Di’s social media campaign I Cosplay Them Because I Like Them. We cosplay our favorite characters because we relate to them, not because we look like them. That is why wigs exist! No one has naturally blue hair. So if you are curvaceous and want to cosplay any of the tiny queer onscreen females who we are glorifying at this convention go right ahead! Thank god for Coach Beiste balancing out the lineup, but still.
As a professional styler, sales representative and fitter for plus sized women I (@skyberry13) have worked with varying levels of self-confidence. I have seen women who are afraid to even think about wearing a real pair of jeans to those that rock a crop top and embrace every inch of their body. The same can be said for cosplay. The cosplay world is changing but it still has a long way to go. There is still a lot of stigma around plus sized cosplayers and most of it is just fat-shaming. There are so many amazing curvy cosplayers out there:Garnet Runestar, Dustbunny, and Black Betty just to name a few. They have gotten to the point in their cosplay career where they totally own every character they recreate. They are confident in their work and their bodies, but I’m sure they still get some body-shaming hate. But things are changing, with more normal sized humans picking up the cosplay baton we are seeing more body-positivity. And you can be a part of that change. Cosplay is for everyone and every body. Weather you are in the cosplay yourself or see someone else, be kind and lift each other up. It takes a lot of courage to dress up and go out into the world. You have to own your confidence and be proud of the work you have put into your costume.
Here are some tips to making/adapting your cosplay. Often I am on the high end of the sizing in patterns that we use. The best way to make sure something is going to fit you right is to create a mock up in muslin (or a fabric similar in weight to your final fabric) before scissors ever see the expensive fabrics you have chosen for the final piece.
This allows for adjustments without ruining nice fabrics. Speaking of fabrics, I always buy a little extra in case something does go wrong. Dress forms are wonderful but are expensive and absolutely not necessary. If you don’t have one you can always make a body cast with plastic wrap and duck tape.
Another important factor to plus size cosplay is your undergarments. Obviously your character’s outfit will have some influence on the type but you always want to make sure that they fit you properly. A good fitting bra can be hard to come by, especially if you have a bigger bust. I’m a bit biased but Torrid is a great place to get bigger bras. They carry bras from 38B to 50G. They have many different cuts and color and they will last you a long time if you treat them well. Cacique bras range from 32DD to a 50DDD. If you can, it is always best to go in for a bra fitting and try on several before you buy. Another popular undergarment is Spanx. They aren’t the most comfortable thing but once you have it on, it will smooth out all of your lumps and bumps and give a more polished look to your cosplay. Lastly there are corsets/waist trainers. Personally, I prefer corsets over waist trainers but that is mostly for comfort. You can buy steel boning corsets online. Most websites will have both costume and actually waist training corsets. Keep in mind not to over tighten and give yourself time to acclimate to your corset before wearing in on the con floor all day.
5. Queer Cosplay
No matter what you identify as you can cosplay whatever character you want to. As we’ve previously said, you do not need to look like the character in order to cosplay them. This is why crossplay exists, if you are someone who in your daily life presents as male but you still identify with Lexa then cosplay Lexa! ClexaCon is the perfect convention at which to decimate the boundaries of gender norms and stereotypes. There are few better ways to do this than through cosplay! As a non-binary individual presenting as male in daily life it is inseparable from my nature as a cosplayer.
When we began cosplaying I was still exploring my identity and presenting as a female who was very much a lesbian. Our early cosplays also had an emphasis on us being in what presented as a lesbian relationship. As I explored and found out more about my identity, my cosplays started to reflect that by moving more towards cis male and non-binary characters. This required ordering a binder for my daily life and one for cosplaying in. Cosplaying at a convention, no matter what you’re wearing, requires the best attempt at comfort. If you have a costume you cannot breathe in it is unrealistic to think you could wear that all day while also enjoying the convention. Despite my binder, just as in my daily life, I do get mis-gendered allot while in cosplay. Sometimes people assume they know more about your cosplay than you do. In these situations all you can do is politely correct the individual. It is also advisable to have someone with you who knows your proper pronouns and uses them in response to your being mis-gendered. Many cosplayers have met resistance from their fans when they are well known for cosplaying characters of a particular gender and then they begin crossplaying or cosplaying characters of a different gender. As a cosplayer you get to decide what you want to cosplay, not anyone else. If you identify with the character or just really like them and want to be them for a day or two, then suit up Superman! Furthermore, there are situations where people do not ship who you do and by cosplaying your ship they feel it somehow invalidates their ship or the cannon ship. Do not let this get to you. If you and your Korra want to make out, but someone really ships Mako and Korra that is just too bad. Make out anyway, canon or not!
We are looking forward to seeing what costumes you guys come up with! We love to see work in progress photos so feel free to tag @maeberrycosplay and @ClexaCon in your #wip photos across all social mediums! If you are going to ClexaCon be sure to attend our panel, Queer & Plus Sized Cosplay, on Friday at 12PM in the Edie Windsor room for a more in depth discussion of cosplay. If you see us on the convention floor before or after our panel, though, feel free to come up and talk to us! We are always happy to give cosplay advice or just pose for a picture! (Still need tickets to ClexaCon click here). If there were any questions you had which we did not cover in this blog and you would like answered at our panel feel free to write a comment on here or message us on social media. We are the queer cosplayers here for you. See you in 10 days…OMG is that really all the time we have!?!?! Uh oh, we had better get back to sewing and painting our four cosplays! See you at ClexaCon!