There have been several articles recently discrediting female geeks and downgrading them to the insuffable title of “booth babe” as we supposedly vye for attention at the mostly testorone fueled events through out the year. While these hurtful posts are mostly based on the biased opinion of so-called journalists, they just strike a difficult chord in my ever beating heart as I attempt to join an industry that more or less does not want me.
Not only am I a woman, but I am a black woman. Not only am I a black woman, I am not a size zero. If there is some imaginary ranking throughout the industry then I am most certainly on the bottom of the totem pole. Also, within my beloved hobby of eleven years, I find myself the underdog as I claw my way to show that my cosplay skills are measured by the might of my sewing machine and not my BMI.
Cosplay and gaming reminds me of highschool. I was quite active in highschool. I cheered. I played clarinet. I was a Captain in ROTC. I was on National Honor Society. I stayed busy. My highschool was not very big, however, and I was pretty much in the middle when it came to popularity. I was a gamer and a cosplayer, but no one knew it really. This was all before social media, so I did not exactly volunteer that information to my judgemental peers. I kept looking for a day when I would be able to share my subcultures with likeminded individuals since my small, rural, Southern town knows nothing about any of it.
Highschool pictures of Me
I never expected to be thrust right back into a world of judgement.
When placed in discouraging situations, one looks for inspiration. I look no further then Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in Gymnastics who is sixteen years old and African American. How inspirational it is that Gabby not only left her hometown at a young age to pursue her dream, make it to the Olympics, assist her team in winning the Team Gold medal, AND win a Gold medal for herself in the Women’s Gymnastics all around! Her entire Olympic dream is built on taking risks and pushing yourself to greatness. At 24, I am thoroughly impressed with her just as I was as a young girl looking up to Dominique Dawes, another African American gymnast who was apart of the Magnificent Seven in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics which I remember watching on a vacation to Washington, DC as a bright eyed nine year old.
There is just something about these powerful black women beating the odds in a sport not necessarily tailored to African Americans. I liken gymnastics to both gaming and cosplay. These are all passions that AAs perhaps do not even have a chance to discover – at least in my particular generation. We obviously had a better chance at becoming involved than my parent’s generation, but it is only just now growing into something many AAs are able to discover at young ages. I never even knew there were other black female gamers until a year before I became a Frag Doll Cadette. That may sound strange to many people, but I was never in a position where I could know that information. Even moving away to college I found myself being the only African American woman involved in the Japanese/anime club and the only African American woman that owned a gaming console. I knew that I was not the only one in existence, but I just did not know where they were!
Gabby Douglas at the London 2012 Olympics
Dominique Dawes – Olympic Gold Medalist
We all have different situations in life – different paths that take us different places and allow us to discover different things. I am glad that I was an inquisitive child that fell in love with gaming and, eventually, cosplay. Seeing Gabby take that Gold really makes me want to push to realize my dreams despite whatever odds may be faced to me. So rejection letter after rejection letter is not going to stop me now. I am only just beginning.
me at my first event as a Frag Doll Cadette – Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles!