Cosplay: Cute or Over Sexualised?

The sexualisation of female cosplay is something which I have explored earlier in my blog posts (here).

Last time I looked at the blonde bombshell Jessica Nigri. Today, after recently delving a little deeper into Asian gaming culture I felt it more appropriate to take a look at the costuming of Asian Cosplayers, given that it is such a giant market in Asia.

Anime cosplay seems to be more popular in Asian countries, so finding a cosplayer specifically focused on gaming cosplay was a struggle even though the Asian gaming market is in continuous growth. In my search, I came across a list of the top 100 hottest cosplay girls on ‘Arcade Sushi’ and when flicking through them (yes I went through every one) I came up with a top 5 to look into further.

Some observations I took out of the list was the global scale of it, with Cosplayers from Russia, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Taiwan, America, Hong Kong, Germany and South Korea to name a few. The range of games/shows/characters which the cosplayers took their costume inspiration from was also extremely broad, from popular games like League of Legends or Final Fantasy to other games which I had not heard of. I also found that one of the American cosplayers was dressed as a character from Sengoku Basara (the Japanese game which I am incorporating into my final project) which was a surprise. Many of the Asian cosplayers had ‘World Cosplay’ accounts or ‘Deviantart’ accounts which I had never heard of before but I assume are popular profiles used to promote their cosplaying activities.

The cosplayers I looked at were;

WOLF (South Korea),

SoGoodbye (Taiwan),

Neneko (Taiwan),

Linda Lee (AKA Vampy) (American with Asian (Vietnamese) background),

Stella Chuu (American with an Asian Background),

ivy1.jpg

While looking through all of the Cosplayers profiles it is clear that the ‘cute’ factor plays a major role in the success of each individual, yet those who can be ‘cute and hot at the same time’ are considered even better.

It’s fairly accurate to say that gaming culture has generally portrayed in game females in ridiculously revealing  (unrealistic) costumes as shown in the Rooster Teeth video below. It is actually something I have considered myself when playing fighting games because being a dancer, I know how annoying (and restricting) some costumes can be so it was interesting to see someone put it to trial. My question is, Is this emphasizing male dominance in the gaming industry or just giving the players what they want to see? ..Maybe both? I believe this character creation within the games is one of the main reasons female cosplay has become such an oversexualised practice; If it’s appropriate enough to be displayed in a globally played video game, why does it suddenly become inappropriate to re-enact it at a local convention?

Showing some skin seems to be highly encouraged in female cosplay culture, especially with Stella Chu and her burlesque inspired outfits gaining her a lot of recognition. I understand how this could lead to controversies, especially when it comes to Ero cosplay which I came across a lot on Simply Otaku, yet the self-expression visible through the costuming and the global reach of the art gives me the impression that for some people, there is so much more to cosplay than just an opportunity to show some skin.

Attention to detail is also a massive factor when cosplaying with many of the cosplayers using props or detail within their hair and make up to finalise a look. Cosplay is considered an ‘artwork’ on Simply Otaku and I agree, the effort and dedication cosplayers put into their costumes should not be overlooked or interpreted as ‘slutty’ simply because the gaming and other media industries have left a little less to the imagination in the creation of female characters.

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2 comments

  1. Interesting post!
    Personally I believe that female cosplayers are overly sexualised. They can want to show off a bit of skin and not be doing it for anyone else (though there are obviously some who like the ogling and attention they get). I think there can certainly be negative impacts of this over sexualisation, of both cosplaying and video game characters. And there are articles out there that discuss the problems (I’ll link a couple at the end) and within the community people are trying to change the way the ‘system’ works. I think the fact that we can discuss these sorts of concerns is a positive, and your research certainly has a lot of different avenues to choose from.
    So good luck, and I’ll be interested in seeing your final digital artefact!
    – Gabi

    Links to maybe check out (though I didn’t get to read through them all):
    http://vgresearcher.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/sexualized-video-game-heroines-are-bursting-women%E2%80%99s-self-efficacy-behm-morawitz-mastro/
    http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2013/04/04/costumes-are-not-consent-combatting-cosplayer-harassment/
    http://www.nerdargufy.com/blog/are-cosplayers-ruining-cosplay
    http://bitchmagazine.org/post/how-big-a-problem-is-harassment-at-comic-conventions-very-big-survey-sdcc-emerald-city-cosplay-consent

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  2. I would agree that there’s very apparent over-sexualisation with the costumes of today, and I feel as though this has just become another reason as to cosplay’s success. In the global community, it’s a disputed issue, but it feels as if the majority has just accepted it as part of the culture and continued to act accordingly. I feel that this sexualisation has become one with the female aspects of cosplay, even though my knowledge of the culture is still quite limited, but from what I’ve seen it appears that the most popular costumes are often those with less clothing and skin covered. I look forward to learning more about the culture, though.

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