|Photo by Green House Photography|
As a Puerto Rican girl from Philadelphia I have been told numerous times on what I "can't" do. It started early on in my childhood because I was told Hispanics could not accomplish anything. I was expected to drop out of school, join a gang, get pregnant at 16 and other stereotypes. I was even told I was brown eyed (even though my eyes are clearly green). Gender also played a part. I wasn't suppose to read comic books because I was a girl. I shouldn't be collecting action figures or wearing comic themed t-shirts. I was weak because males are the stronger sex. These criticisms often came from strangers, kids on the playground or classmates. Teachers have told me because I had "the face of an angel" I wasn't very smart. When I began costuming in 2006 I was told repeatedly by followers of cosplay (never from a cosplayer) that this was a hobby I should give up because there aren't many Latinos in geekdom. I couldn't do it. Supergirl isn't Puerto Rican. There are no Hispanic Final Fantasy characters. There is no Latina Disney Princess. Once again, I decided not to listen and had the courage to cosplay whoever I wanted. Along the way, I have encountered other individuals who do not let gender, race or weight stop them from portraying their favorite characters.
|Gender Swap Walking Dead Group at |
Dragoncon 2014. Photo by
Recently a group of friends visited me from out of town. We had a blast hanging out and doing impromptu photo shoots with many different costumes. One of my favorite shots from the day is of me and Shemika Berry as Harley and Ivy. When I saw the photo, I thought it was a powerful statement on cosplay freedom and how it sends the message on not being afraid of costuming whoever you want. The photo features a Latina as Harley Quinn and an African-American woman as Ivy. And we look fabulous. Cosplay is about creative freedom. If you want to be a gender bender Steampunk Maleficent, go for it! Ethnic Zombie Disney Princess? Yes, please. Don't match the skin tone of the character you want to portray? So what! Plus size superhero? Done! Don't let anything stop you. At the 2014 Dragoncon convention I participated in my first gender swap group. The theme was The Walking Dead and I was Carl Grimes. I can't tell you how much fun and exciting it was to do something different and express our fandom at the same time. If I had listened to the haters, I would not have wonderful experiences such as that.
Let me tell you what this Latina did in the midst of the masses who said I couldn't do anything in life. I graduated High School. I took some collage courses. I have been paid to model. I have been published nationwide for modeling in publications such as Latina Magazine. I wrote an article for a national magazine on Bratz doll collecting. I have worked in Early Child Hood Education for many years. I have been a guest at shows. I write product reviews for my Blog. I started my own birthday entertainment business and I do princess parties. I started the Pennsylvania branch of the Heroes Alliance and manage a team of volunteers and together we do numerous charity events. I moved to the suburbs and am in a stable relationship and we have our own home (and two beautiful cats). I cosplay whoever I want.
Not bad for a Puerto Rican girl who was told she wouldn't amount to anything. My point, friends? Don't listen to the haters and have the courage to cosplay whoever you want and also, have the courage to do whatever you want in your life. It is yours after all :) #cosplayequality
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