I never really fancied myself a cosplayer. I appreciate the spectacle of well executed cosplay and the dedication it takes to do it well. Just the crafting skill alone is something remarkable. But I didn’t think it would be something I participated in but rather something I would always enjoy viewing.
That all changed the moment I saw Jillian Holtzmann on the big screen.
I am not a hard scientist. I don’t do math or physics or science of any kind. But I still felt a deep kinship to Holtzmann from the first moment I saw her on the screen. I leaned over to my friend Julie in the theater and said:
“I want to be her.”
It was no surprise that Rhonda felt much the same way when we discussed the film. Holtzmann is an icon for a certain type of woman, for those who stand out as smart and weird and maybe more than a little socially awkward. Unabashedly quirky and resilient, Holtzmann knows her value.
Walking around as another character is a powerful thing, especially when you are playing someone in an immediately recognizable costume. Not a lot of people recognized me as Holtzmann when I was at Rose City Comic Con. It would have been easier to execute and to be recognized as Holtzmann in her Ghostbusters jumpsuit, to attempt to build her proton pack and to pull out her proton pistols and lick them. That’s the moment most people remember of her character.
But what I wanted to replicate was her personal style, to master her ability to put together items that didn’t seem to match by any standards and make it work.
And I wanted her Screw U necklace.
What I discovered as Rhonda, Isabela, and I wandered the conference center at Geek Girl Con was the sense of community that can come from cosplay. Being recognized by other cosplayers or by other Hotlzmann fans. As we were leaving the center after our presentation, I saw another Holtzmann on the escalator. I called out to her and she shouted back, “My peeps!” We stopped and took the photo you see at the top of this post. It was that moment when I fell in love with cosplay. Seeing all of us together, knowing we each had separate concepts of what made Holtzmann awesome, how those ideas were probably as individual as each of us. Suddenly, the costume transcended simply the clothes and the jewelry (as awesome as it is) and it became about being more myself while dressed as someone else.
Have you done any cosplay? Why or why not? What kind of character might drive you to start crafting a costume? Or what was your first one? Let us know in the comments!
Regina is a gamer, writer, teacher, and podcaster living in the Pacific Northwest. She completed her Ph.D. in 2011 from Washington State University in Vancouver and continues to teach there part time. Regina’s research interests focus on women and technology, and her dissertation discusses female gamers and identity in digital role playing games. A lifelong geek and technology enthusiast, Regina recently started a Girls Who Code club in support of their mission to close the gender gap in technology.
To continue the conversations about gender and gaming that Regina started during her research, she started a podcast called Game on Girl. Called the “NPR of game podcasts” by Chris Brown of The Married Gamers, the podcast features women involved in the game industry, and tackles some of the complicated issues in the gaming community. Season 2 began in the spring of 2018 and will premiere new episodes monthly.