When a Nonwhite Comic Fan Dresses as Wonder Woman

Racialicious guest contributor Kendra James argues the codifiers for dressing as your favorite comic-book character aren't always as easy as putting on Wonder Woman's suit. What if the person dressed as Wonder Woman is brown? 

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Cosplay partygoers at N.Y.'s Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (Madame Tussauds New York)

When comic-book fans participate in "cosplay," which is dressing up as one's favorite comic book character, all should be fair, right? Racialicious contributor Kendra James says it's not. Especially when the character she's chosen to emulate isn't brown.

Cosplaying in and of itself can be stressful enough; I've definitely had convention days when I did not feel confident enough for tight spandex. But for non-white fans, the additional pressure felt when not playing a character of the same ethnicity can add an unspoken anxiety to the experience. It often feels like a white cosplayer can not only dress as their favorite characters of color but also do so in the most offensive way without comment. But when a non-white cosplayer colors outside the lines in the same way, there's a risk of getting an awkward look because–instead of seeing the costume–no matter how perfect it might be, others see the color of your skin and you can see the confusion in their eyes: Why is a black girl dressed as Zatanna?

Worse are the ones who aren't confused, but then think they're being inoffensively clever. You know there probably weren't many Black USO Girls in the 1940s, right?” Or, my personal favorite, “Wonder Woman? I thought you would've done Nubia.

Read Kendra James' entire piece at Racialicious.

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