How to Survive a Con While Female, Fat and Cosplaying*

*Tips not yet field-tested. Use at own discretion. Feminist Dragons assumes no responsibility for shouting matches and too many ‘Yo Mama’ jokes

This is my third year going to the Toronto Fan Expo, and I’m stepping up my cosplay game. Last year, I went as boxing Pam Poovey, because I was blonde at the time. Basing cosplay choices on hair colour is a completely legitimate option, and you can’t tell me otherwise. Despite looking fabulous and having copied her tattoo (temporarily) onto my back, I was sadly unrecognizable. Only one person came up to me! I was devastated. Not this year! I’m going all the way.

This time, I’m a red head. Using my patented LizTaylorsEarrings’ Method for Cosplay Choices, I decided to go as Poison Ivy, one of the most famous redheads ever. Plus, her costume is easy! No, Liz, her costume is common. We’re better than this!

So now I’m going as Disney Princess Poison Ivy. I’ve sort-of built this costume from scratch, and by ‘me’ I mean ‘my friend with a sewing machine and knowledge of how to use it.’ She built (sewed? Constructed? Fed material into a machine, made a sacrifice to Sing-Arr the Sewing God and out came a skirt?) me a rather bitchin’ skirt, I bought a cheap green corset online that I plan on gluing a shit-tonne of fake ivy leaves over, do my hair all princessy, wear a flower crown and BAM! Instant Disney Princess Poison Ivy.

Oh shit. I’m going to be wearing a corset and showing cleavage at a fan convention. Wonder Woman, save me.

It can be done! I just need a plan: easy responses and comebacks and the like. Algorithms! I need algorithms for whatever situation I find myself in. I don’t want to brag, but obsessively over-planning for events is kinda my thing. (When the Fan Expo schedule comes out, you should see my version. Military precision, I’m telling you.)

Okay, first things first:

  1. What is the convention’s policy on harassment?

If they don’t have something posted, yell at them. This isn’t time to play around. If they’re not taking it seriously, what else aren’t they taking seriously? If I don’t see the harassment policy, I start to doubt the constructional integrity of the place. Also, it feels good to yell out policy paragraph subsections at idiots. Makes ‘em nervous.

  1. What if I’m “Fake Geek Girl”ed?


  • “Yes, and you emerged dripping from your mother’s womb with all knowledge, past and future, of [X] implanted in your brain, right? That’s the real story here. Why hasn’t the government contacted you? You must tell us secrets from the future!!!”
  • “OMG! Are you ‘Fake Geek Girling’ me right now???” *pulls out phone* “I GOTTA film this! C’mon, tell me I’m dressing up to catch a fine young specimen of the male species such as yourself! Wait, where are you going?”
  • Laugh hysterically and with as much crazy-eye as possible until they go away. Point at them.


(The ‘Fake Geek Girl’ is the one I’m really concerned about, because anything more than that is something serious and entirely dependent on the situation and I don’t want to give a list of “Ladies! This is what you should you do to avoid sexual harassment!” which is shit and I’m not going to do that. Snappy comebacks for idiots: yes, stupid tips that mean shit if a Brony is trying to feel you up: no. If anything happens, you already know what to do. I won’t condescend.)

I can’t pretend I’m not worried bad things will happen; I’ve read too many blog and Twitter posts to believe this will go 100% smoothly. I’ve convinced my fiancé he has to come to that one day I cosplay so he can bodyguard for me, since we all know “Don’t be a dick” only works if it’s coming from another man.

I wish I didn’t have to. I wish he would only have to come along to be my personal photographer. I wish I didn’t have to think about comebacks and retorts ahead of time for inappropriate comments. I wish I didn’t have to double- and triple-check harassment policies so I know exactly what the organizers attitudes are.

I wish I could dress up as an alternate universe Batman villain and not be concerned about negative attention.

Such dreams. 

What are your snappy comebacks when faced with condescending idiots?

[Pam Poovey, Disney Princess Poison Ivy]


One thought on “How to Survive a Con While Female, Fat and Cosplaying*

  1. Great post, Liz! Your description of how costumes get sewn is extremely accurate.

    I remember working some theater shows with a crew that included a Southern Gentleman Nice Guy. He was Southern, which meant he had manners, which means that us women couldn’t possibly be offended by anything he said, right, because he was so folksy and likeable?

    Yeah, no. He decided to give all of the women in the crew pet names, and it was clear that there was a correlation between how much contempt he held for a crewmember and the girliness of the name he used. He even included one of the guys in this little game, because he was gay. Yeah, NOT COOL.

    Anyway, there was a point where he had decided to call my crew chief “Princess” and was just being an ass, and I basically read him the riot act and told him to start talking to us like human beings or he could fuck right off, because the way he was acting made him worse than useless. He tried to say that we were all given the opportunity at the start of the season to object to the names he was calling us, and I told him I didn’t realize that there was a statute of limitations on sexism.

    Yeah, we didn’t speak much for the rest of the season, but he backed off a little.

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