Friday, August 26, 2011

Slave Revolt

What started out as a joke with the Slave Leia Public Service Announcement (starring Kaley Cuoco) has turned into a massive online bashing targeting Slave Leia cosplayers everywhere.




For those of you visiting my Blog for the first time, my name is Victoria Centeno. I work as a full time preschool teacher and part time model. I have been cosplaying for five years and am known as the "Cosplay Girl". My website (Cosplay Girl http://www.victoriacosplay.com/) has received over one million hits. I was recently named "The Queen of Cosplay" by Axiom Magazine ( http://www.axiommagazine.jp/2011/08/15/the-queen-of-cosplay-victoria/) and was the subject of the Entertainment Weekly story "Slave Leia: Some Assembly Required" ( http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20399642_20511850_20991188,00.html ). I have also been featured in Latina Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter and Rolling Stone just to name a few. I've been reading comics since I was 9 years old and am partial to DC Comics.



I first tried on the metal bikini (actually it was the rubber version made by Rubies) in 2009 at the request of a local radio station I was doing camera work for. While I had the costume on loan I took advantage of the opportunity and took some photos and posted them online. My pictures caught the attention of the right people and I was offered a job as an official Slave Leia model for the 2010 San Diego Comic Con and Star Wars Celebration (which sadly, I had to decline). Return of the Jedi was the only Star Wars film my family owned growing up and my siblings and I watched the VHS on a daily basis. I never thought I would grow up and literally be Princess Leia.  I was more than thrilled to become an official model for Gentle Giant Studios.





Since the Slave Leia PSA there has been a number of articles and Blogs (written mostly by women) crucifying anyone who has worn the metal bikini, labeling it a "problem" and "concern" at conventions. True there are times where there appears to be crowds of Slave Leia's but it's simply because those women were hired to be there. Things like the Slave Gathering, which takes place every year at the San Diego Comic Con (and have become legendary in addition to being a crowd pleasing event) have lured such celebrities as Olivia Munn and Adrianne Curry. It also receives massive press. One might complain that the metal bikini is too revealing when in fact, it shows as much as a two piece swimsuit at the beach. I've seen women wear far less in cosplay even going as far as applying nothing but pasties over their bare breasts. Where's the public outcry to ban those particular costumes at shows? Some may argue that we're actually promoting slavery or sex slavery and that Leia was a victim who was sexually abused by Jabba the Hut. Unless there's a version of Return of the Jedi with a deleted rape scene that I missed, those theories and assumptions are best described as laughable. Stick with the facts; yes Leia was a prisoner and forced to wear that outfit as she watched her friends and allies suffer but did she sit there and play victim? No.



This princess waited until the time was right and turned the tables on her captor, killed him and won her freedom. It's convenient that critics fail to recognize Leia's accomplishment and bravery because of what she's wearing. It's no different than one women judging another because of the clothes she has on. I'm often told by associates that they are surprised at how "nice" or "intelligent" I am for a model. Once again this is an example of stereotyping. People are accusing Leia cosplayers of not being "real" geeks without knowing that woman's story or reason for putting the metal bikini on. Fingers are being pointed with accusations of us demeaning ourselves when in fact, we chose to wear it. No one forced us. Here's a life lesson for those who say we're offensive; just don't look. To those who say the naysayers deserve to be heard, my response is that I don't deserve to be attacked and judged for the costume I choose to wear. It's just as easy for me to accuse someone of being jealous as it is for someone to accuse me of being an attention whore. We can play the blame game all night people.


How is it that a princess who fought for her friends, beliefs and freedom offends the eye but not the dozens of cosplayers walking around dressed as murderers, thieves and rapists? Are you enraged at the sight of the Green Goblin because he murdered a helpless blonde atop a bridge? Do Joker cosplayers upset you because he's murdered children and paralyzed others? And what about Dr. Light? He raped Enlongated Man's wife on the Watch Tower. With incidents occurring at conventions such as raised ticket prices, the stealing of badges and assaults (such as last year's pen stabbing incident at the San Diego Comic Con), you're biggest concern is a woman dressed as Slave Leia? It's time to get your priorities straight, let go of the hate and work on your self esteem.


13 comments:

  1. Are these women that find the outfit offensive and if so they need a dose of self-esteem. Sounds like insecurity to me.

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  2. Thanks doll! And yes, I think this seriously boils down to the naysayers self esteem and insecurities. Seriously, everyone is at a con to have a good time and there are far more revealing outfits on the convention floor. They are targeting Slave Leia's because it's the more popular character. People need to get over it. It's a costume for heaven's sake!

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  3. Some people have too much damn time on their hands...
    Case in point->[im]http://www.filehurricane.com/viewerthumbnails/429200825033PM_493.jpg[/im]

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  4. I would rather go enjoy myself at a Comicon any day than watch the daily news with all the evil and misery being touted as "important current events" by equally as fake Barbie and Ken doll personalities. I'm not saying we should avoid reality at all, I'm just saying that there's nothing wrong with having a rich fantasy life, the operative phrase being "having a life". These people are nothing more than trolls in both senses of the word, so never let their insecurities and ugliness affect what you do. Actually, I'm glad they pissed you off, shows that you can hold your own against them. Keep up the fight like you're doing, because that makes you a hero(ine) in both senses of the word. Love ya cuz :-)

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  5. Well said! I'm here through Jamin's FB post––I'm a Slave Leia costumer, too. I'll definitely be resharing it. :)

    I just want to point out that not every Slave Leia is hired to be at a convention. The photoshoots at Dragon*Con, for example, are like all the other costume meet-ups there––planned, yes, but attended by costumers and fans just for the fun of it. We aren't representing anyone but ourselves, which I think speaks volumes for our enthusiasm––many of the women who model for Gentle Giant and Lucasfilm at SDCC have been doing the unaffiliated shoots at cons across the nation for years!

    There's definitely a close community of Slave Leia costumers, and it really bothers me when other people (usually women wearing their Judgmental Feminist hats) attack that community. From my experience, Leias get along and watch out for each other––unlike the women who constantly tear down the costumers they don't approve of.

    Thanks for posting this. You're a wonderful Leia, and I hope to meet you one day! :)

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  6. Not a Leia cosplayer, but I love Star Wars with a passion. Thank you for writing this article and expressing your dislike of "slut shaming" masked by self righteous , jealous, indignation. That's something that we as females need to think about before we attack each other over what we wear and cosplay.
    Thank you for calling out the whats wrong and pointing out what needs to be done in fandom to right itself.

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  7. You have perfectly expressed everything I was feeling after reading some of the Slave Leia hating blogs. Beautifully written!

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  8. The hating was feeling spiteful and green, but your defense was spot-on! It never ceases to amaze me how some people can take a lighthearted joke and turn it into an ugly, vicious issue.

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  9. I love Slave Leia and I personally have no issue with women wanting to dress in that costume (or any other sexy costume) if they want. What bothers me is when sexy but BAD costumes are given so much attention, while amazingly constructed costumes are ignored because they aren't as sexy. For me, it's about construction and the lack of appreciation of excellent work. A lack of understanding about what goes into creating an excellent costume is one thing that can make women (and men) feel that they don't have a choice but to cosplay sexy in order to get any sort of appreciation for their work (Because, let's face it, if you cosplay, it's because you want attention). And that frustrates me, but I don't want to remove the option of dressing in a sexy costume from anyone. I feel that there needs to be a conversation about that in the geek/cosplay community, but it does need to happen WITHOUT the hateful comments that have been made toward Slave Leia (and other sexy) costumes.

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  10. Thanks to everyone for your support and comments regarding this topic! It is truly appreciated and my graditute to you all.

    @DaddysFastCash! Love you too, cuz!

    @JaclynGFC: I strongly disagree with your comment "let's face it, if you cosplay, it's because you want attention". You're making an assumption and there are millions of talented cosplayers who don't do it for the attention. Cosplay is an art form and a form of self expression. I don't do it for the attention. I do it because it's creative, fun and I am paying tribute to my favoite characters on a whole other level :)

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  11. My sole issue with this outfit is that it is a bit overdone, not anything about the outfit itself or the people who wear it.
    Anyone who wants to rock it: You go girls.

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