Ok, I’m really late on this one, but, again, life.
This is the panel Teka Englund put together for Geek Girl Con, and it was amazing! Teka herself is a costume designer for theater. Haviva is a stage manager and cosplayer. Rachelle is on the Geek Girl Con concom and is a cosplayer. Jojo Stiletto is the self proclaimed Professor of Nerdlesque. At Teka’s urging we tried to keep the discussion positive and focused on what we wanted and what we could do to get there. Teka then informed anyone thinking of telling us we just needed to diet that if they did, she was going to start singing the Spongebob Squarepants theme song until they sat down. I would have gleefully joined in, but it was unnecessary.
The panel was filmed, so I’m going to try to track down where that video might be, so you can see it. Partially because my memory is not so good. But I’ll try to hit the highlights here.
The audience was really receptive and great, and the questions were mostly on point. We talked about how annoying it can be to try to cosplay to body type when there are so few characters that do have a reasonable, let alone fat, body shape. I think we came up with Little Lotta from Richie Rich, Ursula from Little Mermaid, one other character from a manga I’d never heard of, and since then I’ve discovered Faith from Harbinger. So… yeah… We’re all supposed to only play those characters?
Do they have “fuck you” where you’re from?
We had an audience member ask how she could empathize with her fat friends, because being slender but not having much in the way of boobage or hourglass shape, it made clothes shopping and costuming difficult. And I’m glad she does empathize, but as I told her, “It is so much easier to get clothes taken in, than to find fat girl clothes at all.” I mean, it sucks for her that she’d have to, and the big dirty secret of clothing, especially women’s clothing is that in trying to fit everyone, it fits no one. Teka pointed out that acknowledging her fat friends’ issues first, and then commiserating would help. But, as I pointed out, it may just rankle them, and you have to be prepared for that. You need to stress that you understand that it isn’t as big a deal as not finding anything. I mean, at least if it’s ill-fitting, you can still get it on your body, but if there is nothing that comes large enough? Yeah, you’re fucked.
We talked about confronting people who were jerks, if you felt safe doing that. Because, and I’m not being paranoid, this shit happens, men can get violent when they’re being assholes to women, and women talk back to them. I’m usually pretty good for confronting people, but there was one day at a bus stop when three really fit dudes surrounded me and one of them (drunk) proceeded to hiss in my ear about how he was going to sexually assault me. All I did was sit there staring straight forward, and leapt on the first bus that happened by (not my bus, I just wanted away). I’m fairly confident of my odds one on one, or even two on one, but three on one, I didn’t feel safe, I couldn’t get to my straight razor, all I could do was take it until an escape route presented itself. This was on a public street in the light of the afternoon, btw.
So, if you feel safe, confront bullies, and it doesn’t even have to be anything witty. It can just be, “Not cool, dude.” It’s even better if people who AREN’T being bullied speak up, too. Bullies, people who fat and body shame women, do it because they think bystanders have their back. They think “Everyone thinks it, I’m just brave enough to say it.” As if it takes bravery to kick down like that, you cowardly mother fuckers. What you’re doing is picking victims you’re pretty sure AREN’T going to raise a fuss. I say, raise that fuss. If you’re in a crowd, speak loudly in what a friend of mine deems the “dog-shaming” voice. “What did you say?! Why would you say that?! Your mother must be SO proud!” Even “Excuse me,” with enough anger, sarcasm, or scorn can do it.
And non-fat people who want to be our allies, you need to speak up too. You need to say, “Dude, not cool.” “Why would you do that?” “So, tell me, how long have you had this inferiority complex?” I don’t know, I default to scathing bitchery when pissed off. I can’t help it.
We also talked about doing only what you can. If you feel up to being the best dressed, best costumed, fat Wonder Woman that day, you go for it! But if you’re feeling fragile and just not up to it, don’t. Don’t feel like you have to be the poster child for Body Acceptance in Cosplay 24/7. None of us can do that. Even those of us who have been beating this drum for years have days where all we want to do is fade into the woodwork and just get through the day.
That’s OK. You get to have those days. You get to sometimes not be so “Rah, Rah Fat!”. You get to sometimes cry and feel bad about your body, because you’re surrounded by people and media constantly bullying you about your body. And you’re only human. So, yeah, sometimes you’ll feel fucking awesome and sexy and hot, and sometimes you’ll feel like all the fatshamers in the world are right. It’s OK.
So, after that little diversion, I do want to mention that Kelly Sue DeConnick was at the panel, and as a curator of collections at We Love Fine, said she’d talk to people about getting bigger sizes. And I mentioned that maybe we should do a monthly or weekly email action. I could, in fact commit to once a month publishing the contact email and a template letter for companies whose stuff we like and we’d like to wear. If you guys could commit to passing that around and trying to actually GET the word out to do this, that would be awesome.
Maybe we start with We Love Fine, so that they know Kelly Sue isn’t speaking in a vacuum. I’ll work on a letter for that next.
Many thanks to Teka Englund for arranging the panel, Haviva, Rachelle and JoJo for being on it, and for the audience for being fucking awesome.
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Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want. We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly. Check it out (we’re track 16).