BlizzCon is coming up, and, awesomely enough, it’s the weekend after I get married. The Fiance and I have decided that we’re going to make it part of our honeymoon. It’s perfect, really. We’re both nerds, we both adore Blizzard, and we’d both really, really like it if they’d decide to give us money in exchange for us doing things for them. Like, work things, not prostitution, because that’s illegal, and though Chris Metzen is a stone-cold fox I’m pretty sure he’s married and I may be a lot of things but I’m not a homewrecker.
I have a strict policy when it comes to attending any anime or game or otherwise nerdy convention that states “if I’m going, I’m cosplaying.” I love cosplay. I’ve got a list as long as my arm of characters from all over the fantasy and sci-fi universe that I’d love to portray. At my first convention I attended as Natsumi Tsujimoto from You’re Under Arrest, and it was a huge hit. I’ve also been Toshiya from Dir en grey, Tenjou Utena, Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the marionette shinma from the second Vampire Princess Miyu OVA. I haven’t done a serious cosplay in years, though — the last time I appeared at a convention was about ten years ago, when I was still in high school. People always ask me why I stopped.
Here’s a fairly recent photo of me, from my friend’s Bastille Day party.
I’m a chubby girl. I’m 5’3, weigh 175 pounds, and my measurements are 43-33-43, bra size 36DDD (not a typo), dress size 16 to compensate for the top half but a 10 or a 12 everywhere else. I have a bit of a squishy tummy and thick legs that are pretty much pure muscle from martial arts, figure skating, and dancing. Am I trying to say that you can only cosplay if you’re skinny? Not in the slightest, but I will say that the only way you can cosplay without having to worry about your photo ending up on Reddit with a fat joke as a caption, or having to pretend to ignore people pointing and snickering as you walk around the convention, is to be a “socially acceptable” size. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for other plus-size cosplayers who are so confident with themselves that if someone calls them Sailor Fatass they can just laugh it off. I’m still working on getting to that point. In the meantime, I have to contend with people telling me that I “can’t” be x character because of my weight, or patronizingly suggesting that I try a costume “more suited” to my body type, and it hurts.
I was never truly thin. I’ve always had a larger stomach, a chest that leaves people wondering how I don’t fall flat on my face whenever I try to stand, and an ass that’d make a Kardashian jealous. I do not have a thigh gap, even when I was at my thinnest as an adult — about 128 pounds — and that was when I was too poor to eat on a regular basis and was severely ill. For some reason, I still decided to take up ballet, which I consider to be the greatest mistake of my life because the daily bullying I received over my size left me circling around an eating disorder for years. The other girls would hide or destroy my clothes, yell at me to lose weight because I kept shaking the barre during warm-ups, puff their cheeks out and mime shoveling food into their faces… it was horrible. There was one girl in my class who was bigger than I was, and she would join in on the abuse, probably, I now realize, to avoid having to take it, too.
Even still, when I was a teenager, I could easily hide my “problem” areas with some creative angling whenever I was on a photoshoot. I was a size 5 at that time and it was still suggested to me that I think about going on a diet if I ever wanted to be really successful. When I hit adulthood, the emergency brake on my metabolism was thrown, and thanks to severe depression and an illness that left me too weak to even sit at a desk for more than a couple of hours a day for a year or so, I got fat.
For those shocked at that last sentence, “fat” in and of itself is not a derogatory term. Neither is “chubby” or “thick” or “heavy.” They are simply words used to describe something; in this case, a person. The problem is that people use them in a vicious manner. “You’re fat” accompanied by a sneer or mean little laugh takes the statement from being factual to being factual and cruel. Somewhere along the lines, society decided that being fat was the worst thing a person could be, apparently even worse than being nasty to other people. If you find an overweight person unattractive, don’t date them. Don’t sit there and stare at them or tax your brain trying to think of some shitty comment you can throw their way to let them know just how much their presence offends you. We aren’t going to give you cancer, we’re not going to kick your puppy or bring a curse onto your household. Accept the fact that not everyone on the face of the earth needs to live up to your personal standard of beauty and move on. I promise that I’m not going to be upset if you don’t feel the overwhelming need to come up to me in the middle of Target and tell me that I’m the most gorgeous creature you’ve ever seen. I won’t be upset if you pass by me without saying a word or reacting in any way. I will, however, be upset if you stare and yell “THAR SHE BLOWS, CAP’N.”
Because you know what? I’m still going to be fat. I’ve lost a small amount of weight from the time that I was at my heaviest, but despite going to the gym, walking, running, dancing, swimming, hooping, adopting a vegan diet, “cleansing,” taking x y and z supplements, seeing a doctor, enrolling in Weight Watchers, completely cutting out desserts, drinking more milk (disastrous since I’m lactose intolerant), drinking less milk, and everything short of sacrificing a goat to whatever deity might be paying attention at the moment, I am still thick, curvy, voluptuous, fat, chubby, whatever you want to call it. If hurling abuse at me for my weight burned calories, I would be a supermodel right now, but it doesn’t, so just stop. This is my body type. This is the flesh suit I was given to walk the Earth with. I should be the only one even remotely concerned by the size of it. Don’t keep making suggestions about this great new diet/exercise plan you heard about that might be able to “help” me. Don’t try to run an intervention because you’re worried about the health problems I’m supposed to have that, gasp, I’m not even close to having. Don’t tell me “Oh, but you used to be thinner, I’m sure you’ll lose the weight again!” If I do, great, awesome, let’s have a party, but it’s been several years of chub, and I am not holding my breath or deluding myself that one day I’m going to reach that magic number of hours spent on a treadmill and the Fatty Godmother will appear and say “Poof! Let the pounds melt away!” and I will step out of my size L/XL workout clothes as a skinny girl.
I’ll say it again. I’m fat. I’m usually okay with this, except for when people decide to be assholes about it. But even if nobody is making snide remarks about my size, it’s still pretty difficult to feel accepted or just as beautiful as anyone else when there’s so few examples of a normal-to-larger body type to look to. It’s definitely much better than it was just a few years ago, with curvier celebrities like Christina Hendricks and Rebel Wilson strutting their fabulously fierce selves through Hollywood, but when’s the last time we saw a movie featuring a fat girl in the lead role where she wasn’t on a quest to lose weight or find a man who will love her “despite” her size? Bringing it around to the nerd world I’m so firmly entrenched in, when are we going to see character designs that actually look like the chubby among us?
This is one of the things I happily give World of Warcraft credit for. Rather than portraying all of their characters, male or female, as having that one fantasy-driven body type, they represent all kinds — Dwarf females are short and stacked, Pandaren ladies are soft and round, Blood Elf women are waifishly thin (because fair is fair, after all), Orc females have solid, muscular builds — and that is pretty damn awesome. They could easily have said “Screw it! Let’s make everyone in our fantasy world impossibly beautiful and flawless!” and gone on to make everyone look like they just stepped out of a Vogue photoshoot. It’s one of very few games out there where a chubby girl like myself can feel properly included. By contrast, both Oblivion/Skyrim and the XBox Live avatars have always irked me because their body type setting, even when maxed out, is still three dress sizes below me. Maybe it’s that whole vanity thing that’s inherent to all human beings, but I enjoy running through game worlds when I can play a character who looks like me.
I’ve already picked out my costume for day 1 of BlizzCon. I’m going to be the Archangel Auriel from D3, though I’m now wishing I hadn’t had that falling out with the friend of mine who did all the metalworking stuff because he’d be really useful right about now. For day 2, I wanted to be Sylvanas Windrunner, but no matter how much I think I should be able to cosplay her regardless of my size, I am absolutely petrified of what the response to such an act might be, and that is a truly sad state of affairs.