If you have a moment check out this very interesting article on the portrayal and treatment of females in nerd culture. I agree with the general sentiment, and understand the practice of placing nerd girls on a pedestal firsthand. The author even mentions “sexy cosplay girls” as the top targets for such behavior.
While I don’t have time to properly jot down all my thoughts on such a complex topic (especially since I enjoy both sexy and realistic interpretations of women in mass media), I am keenly aware that I could be perceived as an offender to the interest of gaining equal gender portrayal in comics and games. The preferential treatment of nerdy females is a particular point I’d like to address, using a familiar subject (myself) as an example.
My hope is that the larger picture redeems my occasional desire to take on a sexy cosplay project. The truth is that while I enjoy garnering attention for my hard work on a costume (be it sexy or badass) I much prefer accolades for my professional work or other artistic endeavors. At Game Informer I was routinely disappointed when my long-lead editorial pieces flew under the radar, but a single snap of myself in costume circulated the Internet. Nowadays I’m ecstatic to spy a magazine feature for one of my SDCC ensembles, but thrive off feedback from the Tomb Raider community stating they appreciate my efforts.
I know much of the above has to do with the Internet culture being visually driven and its reductive nature. It seems I can be an attractive cosplayer or competent industry professional, but not both. This reality is one reason I’ve worked hard to showcase that I am multifaceted. I love games, comics, and cosplay, but also indulge in photography, sculpture, creative writing, graphic design, toy customization, and so on.
The attention attracted from my most recent bout of costumes has placed me firmly on a pedestal with a number of followers. This is a tricky subject to tackle, as I absolutely appreciate those who enjoy my work. I get the enthusiasm. I’ve fangirled out over artists I personally admire. I even started crying when I met Michael Turner back in 2007. I understand the mentality of perceiving someone as larger-than-life. However to some degree this treatment makes me uncomfortable, and even insecure. Especially when I feel like it’s lavished on me because of my gender or my looks rather than my achievements.
This is especially true when terms like “goddess,” “dream girl,” and “perfection” are thrown around, which seem absolutely ludicrous from my point of view. Sometimes I don’t know how to respond to such comments. Take my Facebook wall for example. Do I “Like” such a comment so to at minimum acknowledge the misguided (but good-intentioned) compliment? Do I ignore it in order to avoid seeming conceded? The tradeoff is then coming across as aloof and inaccessible, which as a Community Manager is a perception I can’t afford to foster. In this capacity it’s always a breath of fresh air when someone compliments my craftsmanship rather than my cleavage, because it’s easy to respond with genuine appreciation.
Funny enough, this pedestal placement has increased my insecurities rather than bolstered my confidence. I honestly fear meeting fans in person and being greeted with disappointment when they realize I’m not perfect. I’m not a fabled and rare creature – a unicorn. I’m just me. This is why I’ve recently made a point to post photos of myself without makeup, or working on a giant sword in comfortable clothing and dorky looking socks.
I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to misrepresent myself as so. Just ask my boyfriend, who was previously one of my only male friends to treat me as me. He didn’t sugarcoat advice or fall over himself with the grand gestures others thought I required. He treated me like an equal and a person rather than a caricature created by the Internet.
Bottom line: If you do find me sexy, thank you. I won’t be necessarily be offended or uncomfortable if you tell me so. I genuinely hope some of the less superficial aspects of my personality contribute to that attraction, however, and that perhaps you call attention to them as well. What I’m getting at is that not all nerd girls want to be treated special for simply sharing common interests. Perhaps we’d rather be given accolades for the sum of our parts, rather than what you can gather at a glace.
Thanks for reading! :)