Gender Bending A Cosplay Phenomenon
I’ve now been attending the New York Comic Con for 8 years and I’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s a magical place. Much like the San Diego Comic Con, over time, it has become increasingly about pop culture with comic books taking a back seat. None the less, it’s a place where nerds can proudly be themselves, a place where their interests and passions are shared and celebrated by thousands if not hundreds of thousands of their fellow attendees (NYCC sold 151,000 tickets this year!)
Where else could a morbidly obese man take off his shirt and get cheers as he walks down the aisle? Don’t believe me? Check out this awesome King Hippo Cosplay. Want to dress up as a cross between Ronald Mcdonald and Thor? Sure, go for it!
The trend however, that really stood out to me was gender bending. There were many women dressed as male characters and quite a number of men dressed as female characters. The interesting thing that stood out to me is that most of the women pulled it off (although the Kal Drogo with the drawn on beard was a little silly.) Whether they were going for a strong or sexy angle, the costume didn’t seem out of place, it clearly worked whether a man or a woman was wearing it. You didn’t stop and think to yourself, “That’s weird! Or Why?!?”
The men unfortunately, were another story altogether. Without question they all looked absolutely ridiculous. I saw men dressed as the sailor scouts from sailor moon, Ariel the Little Mermaid, Ryuko_Matoi from Kill La Kill, and Princess Bubblegum. I couldn’t understand why they decided to cosplay as women. To be clear, it’s not that I think there’s something wrong with cosplaying as a female character, at NYCC everyone has the freedom to be whoever they like. The question of “why?” never seemed to leave my mind. Were they doing it to draw attention to the ridiculous standard we sometimes set for women? Was it just because they wanted attention? Did they want to stand out in a sea of Harley Quinn’s? (Seriously, you couldn’t go 10 steps without seemingly bumping into someone else cosplaying as some iteration of Harley Quinn). Often times, the men were with women cosplaying as a male character (in the photo of the sailor scouts you can see that Tuxedo Mask is being portrayed by a woman) were they dressing up because it would be funny to see a guy in a short skirt?
I don’t have an answer but I am quite curious to hear one. If you gender bended for the con or know someone who did, we would love to hear your reasons for dressing up, let us know in the comments below!
*Feature by Mikhail Shlyuger