Fashion from the Geeksby Sassy Outwater
I wasn’t planning on being there—that’s what they all say—but received an unexpected (but much appreciated) invitation to attend San Diego Comic Con this weekend. I was a Comic Con virgin, and boy was I in for quite the ride! For those not geeky enough to know what Comic Con is,it’s basically a big big media and geek fest where people go to celebrate comics, TV, anime, video games, fantasy and scifi books, or anything historic, out of the ordinary or just plain weird. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a veritable buffet of possibilities for blind people… that is, if you walk around with a friend unafraid of approaching costumed geeks and saying loudly: “My friend is blind. Can she feel you up?” Translation: “My friend is blind. Can she touch your costume?”
I touched knights in full armor (which they made themselves),helmeted stormtroopers from Star Wars, giant two-legged long-haired bears, TiFighters from Star Wars, the baroness from GIJoe, plenty of Batmen, Supermen and other caped superheros, Catwoman, a Venitian plague doctor (Not quite sure what that was from, other than history, except this one had an eagle’s head and talons), demons galore, devils, angels, wizards, witches, corseted wenches, queens, jokers, vampires, wolves, Darth Vaders whose helmets played strange dance music as they walked, and many, many other things. Walking into the convention center was like stepping into an alternate universe. Characters from every paranormal movie ever created flocked along aisles of booths selling everything from T-shirts to wood carvings to costumes and posters. There were comic artists, authors, TV personalities, actors, (I got to shake hands with the guy who played Chewbacca. He’s a giant!), life-sized replicas of famous characters, giant war machine sculptures, celebrity signings, workshops, panels and tons and tons and tons of swag giveaways. Wading through lines of excited fans with a Guide Dog and swag bag of goodies was quite the undertaking. Most of the convention workers were more than willing to help us negotiate the crowds and find us disability accommodation when necessary. But a few weren’t quite sure if I myself was a character from a comic, complete with living breathing Guide Dog costume prop.
There were costumes good and bad (if you’re going to wear that skin-tight miniskirt, please avoid stairs and escalators, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t bend over and give my poor sighted friends a full view of your attributes; we don’t need more blind people on our hands. Thank you.) Some people built their costumes from scratch out of all kinds of materials, hand-sculpted breastplates for armor, toy guns in holsters on hips, giant helmets with beaks and horns, working joints in armor, and anything else you can imagine. Basically that was the only rule. If you can imagine it: wear it.
Which leads me to my day’s fashion and style topic: fashion lessons from (and in some cases, for) the geeks:
Lesson 1: If it expresses who you are, wear it. Social dictates, back off! Sometimes you just have to let your wild side out to play and indulge. Erma Bombeck famously wore pearls just to run to the grocery store, and set her table with fine china for pizza night. And why not? Life’s too short to spend every day all day doing and wearing what society says. You are not society. Go the way of the geeks and embrace your individual style!
Lesson 2: For the sake of the sighted people, make sure your clothes fit right… please. I know, we all say that we’re going to diet to lose that extra fluff around the middle… but when you are bulging out of the top of your corset like a river flooding the levvy, oh honey, it’s time to concede defeat! Buy bigger clothes! The rule is that you should buy clothes up a size when in doubt. Clothes shrink in the wash, we poor fat humans put on weight better than we lose it, and it just looks more figure flattering to wear clothes with a little space! If you have to choose between sausage casing look and twinkey wrapper, go twinkey. Please. I don’t want to have to look over at my sighted friends and say sadly: “I’m sorry you had to see that. Want to borrow the Guide Dog and go my way? It’s better blind, honey. Trust me.”
Lesson 3: Your headwear should never, ever play music. You will have to stop to adjust it, pull your helmet off, and thus completely ruin that sinister Darth Vader appeal. Better to go quietly incognito than MC Hammer meets Lord of the Sith.
Lesson 4: The scents wafting through the air at the cconvention were as varied as the costumes. Rubber from masks and movie sets, the dark thick scent of studio makeup, the smells of leather and metal from armor and corsets, the smell of books, new T-shirts, carboard box smell, bad convention food smell, an of course, the smell of over 100,000 people milling around. If you wear a big costume and walk around in a giant enclosed space with 100,000 of your closest geek pals, please, for the sake of your fellow geeks, wear deodorant! Like, the whole bottle. No joke, there was a lady walking around by the Mrs. Field’s Cookies with a sign advertising free sprays of Fabreeze, and believe me, a few attendees needed her help… badly! Your costume looks good enough to touch, but your odor drives the women away better than walking around with a ten-foot tall billboard perched on your head proclaiming in bright neon lettering: “Geek adult living at home with mom with no job other than playing video games!” To old veteran attendees of the convention, this distinctive I’ve-been-in-costume-too-long or I’ve-been-playing-dungeons-and-dragons-for-the-past-two-days-straight-and-haven’t-stopped-to-shower-or-pee fragrance is known as Con Funk. Beware the con funk. It will leave you terrified. And thinking dog breath smells Heavenly.
Lesson 5: Guide Dog. Not costume prop. Need I say more?
Lesson 6: See lesson 5.
Lesson 7: Makeup is miraculous. It can turn a normal woman into a white-faced joker. It can make an average man into a sexy demon or rotting zombie. And from the descriptions I heard during Comic Con, there were some incredible makeup artists attending this convention. Jezebel, the women’s magazine, ran an article yesterday with the headline: “Largest gathering of adult virgins at Comic Con.” I’m not sure about everyone’s sexual status, but I can speak to everyone’s dedication to something. These people love their characters, and stop at nothing to embody them. It would be nice if we all got that passionate (okay, maybe toned down just a skidge), about something; and contrary to popular magazine headlines, didn’t sacrifice our love lives to do it. Whether we put in the practice time to learn how to apply a good date night makeup job, or we jam on a Mickey Mouse hat with a batman costume, the world could learn a few valuable lessons from the geeks. Go after things all the way.
Last lesson: The convention returns to San Diego every year and it’s worth investigating. Especially when you can’t see. Underneath that armor, there are some pretty sexy people! And they’re all parading around in a giant touchable fashion show. What Parisian model will let you walk up and feel her clothing? Not a one. But every geek we asked was more than happy to let me touch their costumes. I may not know what a runway model dresses like, but after attending Comic Con, let me tell you, this blind chick could rock the armor style. I got a thorough education.
Oh just one more thing: when in doubt… see lesson 5. Thanks.
For more misadventures and strange happenings in my world, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sassyOutwater.
Sassy Outwater is a fulltime musician, part-time writer, Health and yoga nut, style junky and blind chick… and honorary geek now that she’s attended Comic Con.