Friday, February 12, 2010

You'll Rue The Day You Messed With Doesn't-Fit-Into-A-Babydoll-Woman!

I like costume parties but hate cosplay. What box do I check off for that? "What's the difference?" I hear you asking, because the medications I take don't help with the voices. It all boils down to activities, really. One involves the prospect of drinking, dancing, a bad movie, and perhaps, if you're lucky, embarrassing photos of your friends that cost them their jobs. The other involves alternating your time between sitting in a conference room and lurking about the vendors tables debating whether it's really worth going without lunch for a week to buy a 9th Doctor action figure (protip: The answer is always NO). This is not to suggest that I hate cosplayers. Nay, much of the enjoyment I derive from comic conventions is the parade of fortunately-figured women (and men, not gonna lie) clad in corsets and domino masks. Someone's gotta do it, and it's not going to be me. I don't have the body type to cosplay. At 6' and 250 pounds, I am about a foot taller and 200 pounds heavier than most female tagonists, both pro and an. The emphasis and value placed on "authenticity" and "realistic representation" doesn't leave much room for original concepts. Ultimately, that is what has won me over about costume parties. No points are deducted for just showing up in a cape and a helmet fashioned from a toaster, although your roommate is going to be pissed when he wakes up the next day and wants to make a bagel.

As my too-specific-to-have-been-just-"for argument's sake" example illustrates, I don't do well with costumes, period. Even Torrid sizes barely accommodate for my height and weight, that is, that of a 24 year old man. That is not a dig on myself, but a frank understanding of the facts. With the comfort and acceptance of my female identity must come the realization that I was born in a male body (and a very large one...I used to be a lineman) and must dress with this in mind. The most a femme trans woman can do to avoid being "found out" is to wear clothes and makeup that favors/flatters their figure and complexion. Well, and not referring to your penis in casual conversation. Unless you give it a nick name and speak about it as if you're friends who hang out and play Playstation.

Ah, that's where the point went. Come back here, you.

When I do "costume party", I usually do so as a male, that is as a male character. It is infinitely more time effective and dignified to find a costume or parts of a costume in a men's size. A plus sized man can be whatever he wants for Halloween. A plus sized woman is expected to settle for whatever is available. Oh, we have a nice PLUS SIZED nurse costume here? No? How about a PLUS SIZED flight attendant?

One Halloween, I wanted to go as Red Riding Hood. I called the local costume shop and asked if they could reserve one for me to try out (I figure if Lane Bryant can handle such a request, so can the only independently run costume shop in the Phoenix Metro area). I was told a) not only were all their advertised RRH costumes sold out, but b) they had one left, that was not listed on their website or catalog, and I could not try it on, though I could buy it sight unseen and c) hope it suits my needs. That year I wore an old prom dress, got shit faced, and told everyone that I was gonna find a time machine and be my own Senior Prom date. I shouldn't have to pay to be shamed and mocked by retailers. You might say that I would've been treated the same regardless of my body type. You'd be wrong. And missing a spine after I ripped it out your throat.

Next Saturday my friends and I are going to a Batman villain-themed dance party. Without even mentioning my gender body issues, my friends have suggested I go as Bane. You know, the pro wrestler with the gas mask. At least it's not all in my head. Or maybe not. Lots of comic book fans (of both genders) want to fuck Poison Ivy or Catwoman, and having that image associated with a platonic female friend can be distressing to say the least. Still, I don't want to be that overweight girl at the geek-a-thon unironically dressed as Harley Quinn and unaware that people are laughing, not cheering her. But I also don't want to go dressed as a male villain, be mistaken for male all night or, worst case scenario, accused of dressing like a boy as an excuse to dance close to the ladies. It looks like we're not ever going to have nice things after all.

I think the real question, buried beneath this sixteen tons of angst and bullshit is: Why do Batman's villains have to be so goddam conventionally attractive? Why, in a city full of psychotronic chemicals and mental illness, do only the limber and attractive become criminally insane?

For reasons not readily apparent to me at the moment, I am inclined to believe this is all Frank Miller's fault.

On a related and slightly more positive note, I recently mentioned on my twitter (@jettasmash) that I think it would be fun to host a Clue-themed costume party, where everyone would come dressed as a character from the franchise (including the Super Challenge and Master Detective editions that featured Miss Peach, Monsieur Brunette, Prince Azure, etc). A friend replied that "absolutely everyone" will want to be the maid, Ms. White. I disagree. While I acknowledge the fetishization of the service industry by the TS/TV community, I think an excuse to smoke a pipe, wear a mustard jacket, and be called "Colonel" all night appeals to a slightly larger portion of the "what the hell is a Swinger's party" demographic.

I await your answers, SB.

1 betches:

Anonymous said...

I also have a similar "I will costume as my build allows" way of going about things. When a friend of mine offered to make a costume for me for an anime convention a few years ago, I finally settled with Milly Thompson from "Trigun" solely because she was the only character that a) fit my tall figure and b) would be recognized. Since then, I've gotten a bit bigger and fewer and fewer characters will look right. I feel your pain.

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