Humiliated At SE:NYC – A Cosplayer's Story
Dean MizCaramelVixen writes for Bleeding Cool,
A few months ago I applied for press passes to Special Edition NYC for my site VixenVarsity and was approved that same month. I have been excited to cover this event, not only just for the site, but for myself as well. On Saturday, I attended SENYC with two of my writers and we admired the cosplay attendees. These women had on skimpy outfits, pasties, thongs, exploding boobs and more. The exhibitor tables displayed characters with monstrous breasts, body parts exposed, even genitals. We were not complaining… at all. In fact, it was pretty dope seeing these drawings proudly displayed for all to see. After watching attendees cosplaying in regular, as well as skimpy outfits, I decided "what the hell", I was absolutely going to cosplay for Sunday's event.
Little did I know that decision was going to bite me in my ass.
Sunday morning, I knew exactly what I was going to wear. My Deadpool cardigan, black tank top underneath, black boy shorts, thigh high fishnets and a black mini skirt. Yes! I was going to cosplay and have so much fun attending the panels and picking up some fantastic artwork. I took the train from New Jersey to New York, received compliments, stares and a few winks from dad's with their wives and children. "Sweet! I'm doing allll-right!'
As I approached Jacob Javits Center, there was a nice long line to get in, it was a little before 10am (opening) so I expected that. What I didn't expect was about five minutes walking into the Special Edition NYC con, I would be embarrassed, humiliated and choking on tears.
Upon entering SENYC, I saw my favorite tweeter, AgentM. We spoke for a few minutes, shook his hand, got my hug and we talked about Marvel Unlimited and its rules. After our talk, I walked down a few paces to fill out the information to gain access into the Marvel Unlimited panel where Agent M, or Ryan Penagos, hosted.
As I filled out the registration form, I heard "excuse me miss." I paid no attention, as there were a large amount of famous writers and even women dressed in cosplay attending. Then again, I heard "excuse me miss" but louder. I looked up and it's a man and a woman rocking Special Edition NYC gray shirts. (The only people wearing those shirts are VIP members and the staff.) I came out of line, where everyone in earshot distance stares, because they want to know what happened. That's when the uneasiness wave started to overpower me.
The male SENYC Staff proceeded to tell me that this is "a family friendly show and kids are here." He proceeded to remind me that it is Father's Day and "there are kids attending with their families and my attire isn't proper." I was then asked if I had a change of clothes in my bag, to which I responded no. The whole time, the woman did not say one word to me. He then proceeded to tell me that "if they receive one more complaint that I would be asked to leave." I mentioned that there were women who were dressed way worse than I was, that had thongs and pasties on, to which he replied that they were told the same thing. I found that so hard to believe since these same women were walking around the convention smiling and taking pictures. I informed him that I'd traveled from New Jersey for this convention and I didn't feel this was right. He then responded (again) – "if we get one more complaint, we will escort you off the premises. Please try and keep your skirt down or we're going to ask you to leave."
Now, keep in mind that there were people watching us the entire time. Feelings of embarrassment and shame started to overwhelm me. I was choking back tears since I was not understanding why I've been singled out. What the hell was wrong with what I had on?I considered an alternative solution which consisted of me asking the merchants if they sold any bottoms to which they responded "no, only shirts". I felt defeated. So, I stood there next to the Marvel booth stunned and was debating whether I should stay or not. My feelings were hurt, I felt like an outcast, that people of my size were not allowed to cosplay. I am 5'7, 240lbs and not ashamed of my size. I hold my head high. I am a beautiful plus size woman of color – but at that moment, all I wanted to do was to run away, find a corner, bury my head in the sand and cry.
Fans of all sizes are dressed up at #SENYC! pic.twitter.com/kxRMTStc1m
— Special Edition: NYC (@SpEditionNYC) June 14, 2014
I called up one of my writers who attended on Saturday, to ask if he could bring me a pair of sweat pants, just so I could enjoy the rest of the convention in peace. After that call, I went back to the Marvel booth and filled out the information so that I could attend the Marvel Unlimited panel. During that whole time, I was debating in my head if I should just leave this event go back to New Jersey and be "fat in peace at my home". Then, I shared my experience via my twitter page (which is my normal practice) to see if my followers could relate and what they would've done in my situation. Between the RTs and favoriting there was an astounding collection of "Eff them", "don't leave", "that's BS", "don't put on sweats" and "hold your head up". After seeing their responses, I decided that attending with my head held high would be the best decision.
I proceeded into the Marvel Unlimited panel and tried to enjoy myself, where there was still a struggle of emotions the whole panel. Afterwards, another one of my writers wanted to talk about how I was feeling and he also talked me out of leaving. My phone had died (tweeting up a storm), I went to the charging booth and I was confronted by a woman named Lacey, who was also wearing a SENYC gray shirt, and I just knew where this was going.
Lacey asked if I was with VixenVarsity, to which I responded "yes". Lacey ran the twitter feed for SENYC and she began to apologize profusely for the way that I was treated. I'm going to assume the social media pressure surrounding my interaction wasn't good PR for them. Lacey continued to apologize (which I appreciated) but I felt it was imperative to inform her of how humiliated I was. After our conversation was over, I received a coupon for a free T-shirt and a pint glass for my writer.
(You can imagine how a coupon for a T-shirt and pint glass should totally make up for the way I was treated. Yaay! [Please note my total sarcasm here folks.])
In my eyes, that was not an apology. That felt like "please stop tweeting crap about us, we didn't realize that there was going to be a backlash, so here…here's a free t-shirt on us." Despite how I felt – I still smiled, thanked her and kept it moving.
So, imagine how you would feel if – on top of this company telling you what you can/can't wear – now you get a complimentary shirt as an apology.
No, thank you. At this point, I felt even worse. Now, I felt like I received a band-aid on a situation that could've been handled better period. The rage, sadness and anger that I felt made me want to exit immediately. I just couldn't take another confrontation, half-hearted explanation or another "band-aid" in the form of a t-shirt.
Women of all nationalities, shapes and sizes love comics. I've been a comic book collector since the age of 12. I have tattoos of my favorite comic book character and working towards Marvel and DC half sleeves. In my office I have posters, statues and comics. I love to cosplay! I love attending comic cons! To be told I was going to be escorted off the grounds due to what I was wearing, devastated me. The pain it caused me I can barely describe without breaking into tears. To be honest, I am still emotional as I write this article.
This is what I wore. This was inappropriate. This is what I was going to be kicked out for. This ! Here are a few examples of women showing more than me that attended SENYC.
Venom: Camel toe, nipple bars showing through the body paint and booty shorts, and the bottom of her ass cheeks were also out.
Looks to me like Poison Ivy is showing some of her "ass"-ets off as well.
Please understand that I am not picking on these women, I just want you to see some of the examples of women who were cosplaying who showed off more than I did.
I want everyone to know that no matter our size or gender, that we should not be discriminated against. Just because comics portray women in just one particular size, we should not be shoved into the one-size-fits-all category of cosplay. This picture sums up everything.
We are plus sized beauties who love to cosplay, should we be humiliated and discriminated against because of what we love? I think not. Special Edition NYC humiliated and embarrassed me and it's not fair. Next time, I'll get the fat sucked out of me so that I can meet their standards of cosplay. [There's that sarcasm again.] However, I am glad that I stayed at the event, still in cosplay, received many compliments and tried my best to enjoy myself despite being completely humiliated.
I am Dean MizCaramelVixen, a plus sized woman of color and I love to cosplay!