With a great deal of nerdy friends and a job that involves traveling across the word for nerdy activities, I often find myself in some sort of random cosplay or in some sort of nerd-related costume activity. Costume building is fun, creative and a good time. While some girls have much more confidence with revealing costumes (and you go ladies) I tend to try to keep it a little more covered up. However, I was up for the challenge when an Avengers themed activity came up recently for my friend group. I’m not comfortable in a catsuit. Form fitting is great, but even Scarlet Johansson talked about the sheer amount of work and energy (and post editing) it takes to get her to look that good in a catsuit. I decided to cheat and combine Black Widow with my other great costuming love; Steampunk.
Urban dictionary is very helpful for folks who haven’t really had any experience with the Steampunk Genre. It’s entry reads:
Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes.
Medieval Steampunk: Speculative fiction set during the Middle Ages.
Victorian Steampunk: A modern Science Fiction work (post-1930s) that is set in the early parts of the industrial revolution.
Western Steampunk: Science fiction set in the American Old West.
Industrial/Modern Steampunk: Science fiction taking place in the late industrial age, early modern age; i.e. World War 1, World War 2
But Black Widow was what I set my sights on. After all, it wasn’t a national competition; it was time with friends. I figured I could take my acquired pieces of Western Steampunk pieces and combine them to be a new version of everyone’s favorite sex Russian spy.
My friends were excited, cheering me on. As a cosplayer, I have to say nothing makes me feel more confident than a corset forcing to me stand up straight and smile. Social media is a helluva drug. After promises to show off the costume to my friends and followers, I had a friend take a quick picture of me holding my carefully painted and aged gun, complete with my handmade Black Widow belt and my hand painted bullet bracelets I was substituting for Widow’s bite. And I hash tagged it #steampunk.
Ladies and gents, this is where it all began to fall apart. Because I’m not an absolute jerkface, I’ve hidden his name and photo so you don’t go track him down.
This was our exchange:
To which I replied:
And this is the response I woke up to this morning:
According to the definition in Urban Dictionary, I’m well within Steampunk limits. As an attendee of Gaslight Gathering and other Steampunk activities, I’m pretty well versed in the genre. As a costume creator, my only mistake was being creative and showing it off.
This is a behavior that needs to stop. I don’t just ask this for me. I ask this for the girls I see spend hours, days, months, working on a costume and then being mocked on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram because someone dwelling perpetually in their parents’ basement doesn’t agree with the vision of the person who spent so much time crafting.
Here’s a secret: COSPLAYERS LEGITIMATELY ENJOY DRESSING UP. It’s like Halloween for us. Some people may make a business out of it, but the rest of us just want to be our favorite character for a day without being harassed, mocked or tormented. And not all of us are “doing this for attention” as I’ve heard over and over again. There is a serious underestimation to how powerful stepping into another persona can be.
Emerald City Comic Con went so far this year as to post signs informing women that if they were bullied or felt threatened that security would remove the perpetrator from the facility. Damn right! I’ve heard horror stories of girls dressed as Super Girl having their butts grabbed while simply walking the con floor. A few years back, a I remember a girl being slut shamed for having a period accurate Star Trek skirt. And it’s not just girls either. There’s a hilarious anecdote from Comic Con San Diego where Hugh Jackman walked the floor as Wolverine and was told by a fan he was “too short.” Whether that’s true or not, who knows.
So here’s some suggestions on how to deal with those Social Media trolls. When blocking doesn’t work, there is usually a fun button hidden somewhere on the page where you can report the abuse. This often leads to the offensive post being pulled down, or the person themselves being blocked from the site for a period of time. In the Twitter verse, if they aren’t a follower and you aren’t following them, don’t bother to respond. I did because I find this sort of social behavior fascinating and was hoping to see what made them tick. True colors achieved.
In the end, keep doing what you’re doing cosplayers. Break out that glue gun, come up with new concepts, destroy sewing machines trying to make a Doctor Girlfriend costume; the fun part is more fun than you can imagine.