I started out as a reluctant cosplayer. The truth is, I always felt embarrassed by my size and worried that I wouldn’t find anything that looked good or fit me properly. The nerd community can be cruel to female cosplayers and even worse to fat chicks who cosplay. Finding a character I love enough to cosplay, creating a costume that resembles her/him enough so that strangers recognize the outfit EVEN THOUGH I am not the same size/color as the character, well it always seemed like an overwhelming task that I wasn’t ready to commit to. I am all too familiar with instances of public body shaming, and the idea of placing myself in the spotlight at a con terrified more than thrilled me.

Then I met the Collectress. My cosplaying, co-blogging, blogmate who promised to FOREVER help make my cosplay dreams come true, if I would only give the medium a chance.

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Guest Post by Jessica Mason

There’s a moment, I think all of us self-identified geeks know it, when you walk into your first con and think: I have finally found my people. Where once you existed in isolation, able to share your passions with a few anonymous faces on line, suddenly you’re among other, actual, living, breathing, nerds. The thing about you that had to be hidden – your nerdiness – is something that is shared with this mass of people and celebrated. The only thing comparable I can think of was my first time stepping into a gay pride festival, fresh off of coming out. It was so welcoming and so much fun, and I was indeed suddenly so proud to be myself. Cons are like that. The moment when you’re walking down the street and see the first person dressed as Poison Ivy adjusting their bodice or Darth Vader in the coffee shop, and you know it: you’re home.

I felt that moment profoundly the first time I attended Geek Girl Con in Seattle in August of 2012. GGC was in its second year, just getting its feet wet, and it was still an amazing experience. As I roamed the aisles full of crocheted Avengers, independent game developers, geek community organizations, writers, and artists; I was amazed at the passion and creativity of fans like me, which I had never seen in person. I attended panels about misogyny in gaming and depictions of disability in geek media. I geeked out with dozens of others who were just as nerdy and passionate about these things as me. It was awesome.

I left that first con in awe of female geek culture, and its boundless capacity for critique, transformation, and creation. I didn’t know then how lucky I was that this was my first con experience, and I think it has profoundly shaped the way I view fandom as a positive space for dialog, community, creativity, and especially for women.

Because it’s not always that way.