Emily S. Whitten: Women and Costuming

Emily S. Whitten

Emily S. Whitten writes everything from news, reviews, and interviews to how-tos, con round-ups, and opinion pieces for ComicMix and others; as well as comics featured on ComicMix, MTV.com, and Reelz.com; and occasionally even award-winning poetry and fiction. When she's not writing for fun or profit, she’s sharing geeky thoughts on the Fantastic Forum radio show and podcast Made of Fail. Emily is a convention organizer and consultant, and co-chair of the fourth North American Discworld Convention, which she co-founded. She has been Program Coordinator for Awesome Con and staff for several genre cons. Emily is a program moderator for Awesome Con and Fan2Sea; and you might also recognize her from her days of answering questions online as her alter-ego, Ask Deadpool. In her copious spare time, Emily enjoys crafting and cosplay, and looking after the cutest three-legged dwarf hamster in the world, ElliePuff. Oh, and when she's not doing all that, Emily is an active member of The National Press Club and holds down a 9-to-5 as a senior attorney for the federal government - although that may just be her superheroine cover identity.

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6 Responses

  1. Kris Russell says:

    Hi Emily,
    Loved this article. I am your school of costuming…. Put stuff together I can knit but I don’t sew. I have done every sort of costume from Poison Ivy – pretty skimpy, to an Agony Aunt… evil old lady who is security guard with a handbag full of strong lozenges and hatpins. Not the slightest bit attractive. Inbetween has been an Elven Elvis, a reformed vampire in a leather crinolined ballgown, via a witch, a dragon, a Cheerful Fairy, a ‘working girl’ assassin and the Goddess of Roadkill. Geek is up there on the list far above sexy.

    • Emily W says:

      Hey Kris! Sorry I didn’t reply before now. Your costumes are always BOSS and I wish I had a leather dress like your Countess one. Haha! Glad you enjoyed the article!

  2. Jeanette says:

    I like this! I am a wearer of sexy costumes myself, but more for the fun of the colors and designs, and how fun it is to see myself in the mirror! I have grown to be less fond of sexy costumes in public areas because I have learned that people think girl in sexy costume = toy. This is not a truth at all.

    • Emily W says:

      Yes – I like bright colors and looking fun, but like you, am not as much a fan of people discounting girrrrrls just because they dress up in cute costumes. Hah.

  3. Robin Piercy says:

    Dear Emily
    Have just discovered your column ~ Thank You!! ~ I do tend to agree with you but I will question the range of outfits that the Female Cos-player have to choose from. When it seems to be all perceived to be “sexy” for the audience [ you yourself say “for attention” ] then that in itself seems unbalanced. When the cos-player costumes tend to reflect/echo the female attire worn at Fetish/sex industry events then something has crossed over into the Geek Culture we are pretending isn’t there. SO good that we are hearing about these subjects that have been quiet for so long Cheers Robin

    • Emily W says:

      Hi Robin; glad you liked the column! Interestingly, there are lots of options for gals when it comes to not-just-“sexy” costumes – but they almost never get talked about! Which is part of the problem. For instance, my friend did an awesome (and very cute, but not “sexy” per se, since it was made out of boxes) Lego Poison Ivy at DragonCon, and she looked BOSS and was a big hit. So those options are available. She also did an amazing working Portal shirt that was a HUGE hit. But even with those kinds of costumes out there on the floor, we still see complaints and/or criticisms of the “fake” girl geek, or the “dressing just to be sexy” female costumer, or whatever. The problem, I think, is that even with the diversity that is out there, people are still mostly remembering and perceiving the “sexy” costumes overall, and so that’s what gets lodged in the public perception. Also I think there’s just a stereotype that’s gotten embedded in fandom regarding women and costuming and what that usually looks like, which ought to be ousted.
      Thanks for reading!