Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cosplay Report

So, last weekend was the big anime convention I attend every spring where I do the majority of my notable cosplay (including the pink dress version of Chii, and my sexy no jutsu cloud bikini, either or both of which you might be familiar with - you can see pics here), and I'm still recovering from the excitement of that adventure. You may be disappointed to hear that the cosplay(s) I was planning for this year fell through at the last minute (the bandages I was using for my new Chii cosplay ended up giving me an unsightly rash that I then had to keep covered up for aesthetic reasons), but I still had a great time, and nevertheless had an opportunity to wear some exciting outfits picked out at the last minute.

Last year I cosplayed White Rock Shooter, which is basically a palette-swapped (to take advantage of my blonde hair) version of a character known as Black Rock Shooter, who wears an ultra sexy outfit consisting of short shorts, a bikini top, a long cape/hoodie, and boots/heels. A lot of people know Black Rock Shooter, but White Rock Shooter is a bit more obscure, as she is the final boss in a PSP game based on the character, that I don't think very many people have played. Nevertheless, it's a fun outfit for me to wear, and so I opted to wear it again this year when my other cosplay plans fell through. I had to swap out the heels for more comfortable flip flops though, because last year, those shoes rubbed my feet raw.

White Rock Shooter, minus the hoodie, from last year

It's worth noting that the con overhauled its rules this year, making them simpler and largely more agreeable. The standard of dress policy has been scaled back considerably, eliminating a number of convoluted rules and sexist double standards. Now it pretty much boils down to "genitalia must be reasonably covered at all times." I'm inspired to take advantage of this reasonable and sane policy, and do some cosplays next year that might not fly under a more conservative regime. I'm gonna do my best to work on my figure in the meantime so that I can feel more confident flaunting what I've got.

The con has also cracked down on harassment, almost certainly in light of recent PR snafus at other conventions. Usually I'm uncomfortable with excessive rule-mongering, but in this case it's a good thing. Fliers describing the new anti-harassment policy were posted liberally throughout all the bathrooms in the convention center (and inside of all the stalls), to make sure everyone was aware of it. My favorite part is the inclusion of "bathroom policing" as a form of harassment that will not be tolerated. Bathroom policing occurs when a person is harassed for using the "wrong" bathroom, and is frequently used to discriminate against transgender persons.

If you've followed any of my writings on transgender issues, you'll know that using public restrooms is a source of endless anxiety for me. To be honest, I don't feel comfortable in either bathroom; I feel vulnerable in the men's room, yet I don't feel welcome in the women's room. It's confusing enough for myself trying to figure out what sex or gender I am (and I'm still not sure), so I can't imagine trying to convince someone else. Am I really male, or really female? The truth is, I'm neither. I often present as female, yet on closer inspection, the sex on my birth certificate makes itself apparent. I don't belong with the men because I dress like and identify with girls (and some men would use that as an excuse to hurt me), but I don't belong with women either because I have a penis (and some women would use that as an excuse to label me a predator).

The con environment is a particularly interesting one, because it tends to skew slightly liberal in terms of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities (hell, we're talking about a community that includes furries, and while not everyone there appreciates them, I'd wager a considerably larger percentage than the general population does). And there's lots of crossplay going on (people cosplaying as characters that don't match their own sex or gender). In some cases, it's just people cosplaying a character they like, sex/gender be damned, and in others, they do it for the lulz. In those cases, these people are probably cisgendered, and don't have any problem deciding on which bathroom to use.

My Chii cosplay from 2011

Flashback to the year I dressed as Chii in her elegant (and extravagant) pink dress. There were no "family restrooms" at the hotel where the con was being held that year, so I opted to get dressed in the men's room. While I was putting on the finishing touches while standing in front of the mirror over the sinks, several men walked into the restroom during that time, and got a shock. Many of them turned around and walked back out the door to double check that they had walked into the right restroom. Some of them shrugged it off and just went in anyway. This kind of thing is actually not that uncommon at a convention like this. And it didn't bother me. I don't mind playing with people's expectations. And the con population is probably much less likely to harbor the sort of people who would beat a guy up for wearing a dress.

Now jump ahead four years. Femininity is not a costume I put on when I want to play a role. Even when I'm out of costume, my everyday clothes that I wear are designed for women. In that sense, I'm not even crossplaying, because I identify with the gender of the character I'm cosplaying, the same way that I'm not really crossdressing, because I'm wearing the clothes that match my mental gender. Of course, a person who doesn't know me and just notices that I have a deep voice or broad shoulders or a bulge in my shorts isn't going to know that. Nevertheless, I'm very pleased that con policy states that I can use the women's restroom, and nobody is allowed to harass me for it. I still didn't feel perfectly comfortable doing it, because social attitudes take time to change, but having a firm rule in place is an excellent sign of progress. I do, however, still prefer maximum privacy when using the bathroom, and since it also reduces my anxiety about being judged, I opted to continue to use the family restroom more often than not.

This is how I had to wear my White Rock Shooter cosplay this year.

This is how I would have worn it if it weren't for my rash (which thankfully doesn't show up too much in these pictures).

This is how I could have worn it if I started to get a little warm (and you can bet I'd have taken advantage of the opportunity).

Matching underwear! Note: the costume is not actually designed to be worn this way. :p

Just for the heck of it, because yes, I'm a pervert. (But that doesn't make me a creep!)

My goal in the Dealer's Room on Friday was to go through the various booths and find something I could buy to wear on Saturday as a last minute outfit. I considered getting another schoolgirl uniform, since I've grown out of my last one, and I also looked at some really pretty miniskirt kimonos (sexy and stylish!), but those were pretty expensive. I ended up choosing an Alice dress that I was able to try on in a little secluded booth right there in the middle of the Exhibition Hall floor, with the crowds buzzing all around me. It fit me great, and looked really cute, so I bought it!

I wore my hair in braided pigtails, for maximum cuteness. :3

And I wore the dress with a thong, because what else are you going to wear under it, right? It's not like I was expecting anyone to get a peek at my panties, although every time I got up after sitting down, the rush of air on my backside made it feel like my skirt was flipped up and I was flashing everyone behind me. I'm pretty sure I was just being paranoid though. (And if you think I'm a pervert, you should have seen what some of those girls were wearing!)

Out on the town. Not that I think you don't trust me. :p This picture also gives you a glimpse of the adorable frilly socks I wore with the outfit. I would have killed to have worn a pair of mary janes with them, but we couldn't get any at the last minute (and it's really hard to find women's shoes in my size).

I wore what is just an everyday outfit for me on Sunday, but with a cute Hello Kitty shirt, to keep it in the Japanese theme of the con. I didn't get much attention on my outfits this year, though for understandable reasons. But when I asked one cosplayer for a picture on Sunday (she was wearing a bandage cosplay very much like the one I had failed to make), the young guy who was with her told me, "by the way, you're beautiful". It caught me off guard, but I was totally flattered. And on Saturday, when I was in my Alice dress, one girl told me that seeing my cosplay each year was always the highlight of the weekend for her, as I always wear the cutest things.

I suppose it's fitting, because I never cared too much about popularity (I probably wouldn't know how to handle the attention). I'm not mainstream in any way, shape, or form. But if I can reach just a few people - individuals on the fringe, like me - on a significant level, whether to expand their experiences, build their confidence to try an alternative lifestyle, or just to brighten their day, that makes it all worthwhile for me. :-)

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