Ever have one of those moments? You know, when you look back on it and realize maybe you should have intervened? I had one of those moments yesterday, and I’m kind of left in a bit of anguish over it.

“I should have SAID something…”

I was at KotoriCon, a small convention in South Jersey. Though focused on anime and related cosplay, all fans are welcome at KotoriCon. This year, the theme was zombies.

While I was fiddling with my camera and standing just outside the door, I heard a man talking on his phone. From what I could tell, he was a father there with his daughter and he was speaking to his wife. He must have been new to convention-going, and he was there distantly observing his daughter and her friends, who looked to be about 13 or 14.

I completely understand why a parent would want to accompany a minor to a convention on a college campus, especially if they didn’t know anything about it. I was about that age when I went to my first convention. It was a “Star Trek” convention, and my mom took my friend and me to it.

Anyway, this man was accurately describing the convention as he talked on the phone. He pointed out several things:

  • Everyone seemed to be having a great time
  • It was on a campus
  • The girls in question were just giddy
  • They were making new friends.

Then he pointed out something else.

“Well, the girls really like it, dressing up. They do it for attention.”

I pretended I didn’t hear the guy and his private conversation as I finished getting my camera ready.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about it. Do females cosplay for attention?

The Fandom

Most of the time–almost all of the time–fans cosplay characters they love from fandoms they love. I’m not into anime, for example, but one of my first cosplays was Dr. Ellie Sattler from “Jurassic Park.” I didn’t even know that I was ‘cosplaying,’ just that I wanted to wear the same clothes as Ellie because she was cool.

In other words, it’s not necessarily for attention – it’s about the fandom. It’s also important to note that many fandoms don’t have as many female characters to choose from as they do male characters. As a result:

  • Sometimes the female costumes are provocative (especially for a 13-year-old)
  • Sometimes females crossplay

Character and Costume

Most cosplayers don’t randomly wake up and decide to toss on a costume and go to a convention. There’s a serious amount of thought behind the character and the costume. When I play a character (whether I’m writing or LARPing), ultimately I think about why I choose that character and why I like her (or him). That’s one reason why people get defensive if you attack their favorite character. It’s a form of expression and connection.

Which Costumes Get Attention?

It’s true that more revealing costumes can get more attention, but so can more unusual costumes or those that allow the wearer of the costume to remain anonymous. Occasionally, females do wear revealing costumes just for attention, but I think it’s pretty rare. And now that there’s actually a debate over ‘fake geek girls,’ the point is more relevant than ever.

Analysis

My guess is that the girls in question might have been dressing up partly for attention, but that’s part of growing up and expressing yourself and it isn’t exclusive to females or geeks. Additionally, the girls were socializing with each other and making new friends, which is probably another reason they like dressing up and going to conventions. It’s completely healthy and normal, and it’s not sitting in front of a video game or partying–like many parents complain about their kids doing.

This leaves me feeling mixed over whether I should have said something to the guy on the phone. Maybe he was just a concerned father, although the group of girls weren’t wearing anything particularly showy. I also feel like I might have said something if this had been a woman talking instead of a man.

Do you think I should have said something, or was this a matter of parenting that should remain his personal business?

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