Jessica Nigri: Cosplayer

They say that sex sells and in the huge world of Cosplay “sexy gamer girls” have become highly recognised due to their somewhat revealing representation of various characters.

Exibit A: Jessica Nigri. An American gamer who became ‘cosplay famous’ after her cosplay of a ‘sexy Pikachu’ at San Diego Comic-Con International went viral in 2009.

Jessica Nigri - Pikachu Cosplay costume

Jessica Nigri – Pikachu Cosplay costume

Her career has since exploded, winning a contest in 2012 to be the face of the protagonist in Goichi Suda’s video game ‘Lollipop Chainsaw’. Her achievements and involvements in various anime and gamer conventions across the globe have resulted in the development of a massive online fan base. What interested me the most was her involvement in ‘crossplay’ (genderbending characters). Because unlike ‘crossdressing’, there is very little stigma put on ‘crossplay’ within the cosplay community. People often dress as a character they like and whether they are male of female is often irrelevant to this art.

Her cosplay success has led her to open up an online print store called NIGRI PLEASE! Here she sells revealing posters of herself dressed as various characters from games such as Pokemon, League of Legends, Assassins Creed, Borderlands and Lollipop Chainsaw. In addition to some rather raunchy underwear pictures, Nigri’s web-store also sells posters of her modelling different characters from Studio Ghibli films, Dragonball Z and Comic books.

Jessica Nigri - Cosplay Posters available on NIGRI PLEASE!

Jessica Nigri – Cosplay Posters available on NIGRI PLEASE!

When ciphering through the images of Nigri online, it is apparent that she has created a public image based on her looks and sexuality and not just her knowledge of gaming and/or anime culture. My brother, who proudly flaunts one of her underwear images as the wallpaper on his phone said, “Make sure you include the boobs” when I mentioned I was going to do a blog post on her. In all honesty, they are hard to miss.

The ‘sexy factor’ of many female cosplayers tends to be seen as ‘self-objectification’ and it is an issue which has been continually explored throughout this cosplay culture (read more: Here, here and here). In saying that however, Nigri’s cosplaying over the years has become more than just a hobby like most, it is her career. She has fan pages dedicated to her and a YouTube account that helps to share her exciting cosplay experiences with her many fans.

After viewing this video and many others on Nigri’s channel, I feel as though this would seriously be the best gig to have! It is not only the extravagant costumes and makeup of the cosplayers which seems to draw people in, but the whole convention/expo atmosphere bringing people with common interests together in a social setting. It is clear how much the art of cosplay has grown to become such a massive part of western convention culture. Nigri’s personality is bubbly and adorable and her fame, although highly sexualised is in my opinion not highly objectifying or exploiting but instead an external method of marketing to help expand this convention culture even further – and it has done just that!

Although, this sexualised form of marketing makes me wonder if the Asian cosplay culture is the same, or is it us western cultures who have created this ‘sexy gamer girl’ image in order to boost awareness and sales. None the less, cosplay does not seem to force a divide between the east and west, but instead reveals the coming together of the two due to a common love for the digital world.

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4 comments

  1. Hey,
    Really interesting post! I thought it was great how you talked about crossplay – and compared it to other cultures where it may not be considered ‘normal’ to dress up as the opposite sex – it’s interesting that the gender is irrelevant, and that it is all about the character! This seems to be the basis of cosplay (I don’t really know much about it…)
    It’s so important to discuss the objectification of women in terms of this particular example… Of course, sex sells – that’s why it’s so prevalent in so many different types of media, we definitely can’t deny that. But why does this Jessica Nigri feel obligated to be dressed in a provocative way every time? I’ve seen so many cosplays where women do not do this… and are completely fine with it.
    Of course, it’s her choice – and it works for her.
    -Keely

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  2. As someone that has only very recently been introduced to Cosplay its fascinating to the see the number of forms it can take. I agree with Keely in her comments above that the idea of ‘crossplay’ is really interesting, however I’m not sure that I can agree that gender is irrelevant. The very fact that Jessica Nigri is able to ‘sexualise’ male characters I think has everything to do with gender. I don’t know a lot about cosplay, but do you think it would embrace a male ‘sexualising’ a female character (I can’t even think of an example). I definitely think from your post, that Jessica Nigri’s fame and success comes from her sex appeal – your brothers comment about boobs says it all really. I’m really intrigued by your closing question about whether Asian cosplay culture is the same in this sexualised sense, because if its not, and Western culture feels the need to create the ‘sexy gamer girl’ as a marketing ploy, I believe that says a lot about our society and the stereotypes we associate with gender roles. You gave me lots to think about – great post!

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  3. Great post. I think that gender is important particularly when you say that sex sells. I agree though that it is not exploitation given the fact that Nigri decides to dress this way while making a career out of it. Just because it is ‘sexualised marketing’ I don’t really have a problem with it from an ethical standpoint. The issue courtneyt raised; western cosplay culture versus Asian cosplay culture is interesting. That could be something you could explore later on in your study. One question I would propose is; will Nigri’s wardrobe choice become more ‘extreme’ in the future in order to maintain her audience numbers? In other words will she feel every time she creates a new poster that she needs to ‘step it up’ for the audience and therefore her pictures will be more sexualised? I hope this question makes sense. Great post
    – Caitlin

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  4. Quite the polarising topic. When I first encountered cosplay at Comic Gong, it was in this overtly sexualised manner and I was quite taken aback at what seemed like a needless sexualisation of Captain America. When reflecting on it with my friend he mentioned that it might be in the origins that the sexualisation emerged. He said that it stemmed from overtly sexualised elements of anime, some of which I have noted have started to cause some issues in their translation to a “western” context. On personal reflection supported by your discussion however I find cosplay seems to be a liberating experience for most, a chance to live out your fantasy in which ever way you choose and hence there are many carnations of the art. It should transcend an analysis of too much sexualisation just as anime has.

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