On being visible

I love dressing up in costumes. Really, I do. If I am done up in my tribal bellydance or cosplay gear, I am the Pretty Dancing Girl. Not the Girl with the Visible Disability. It’s my way of fighting to be noticed for what I want people to see — my swirly skirt, floofy bustle,¬† or pony falls (my costuming Achilles heels, ghods help me) — rather than what I don’t want them to see.

Recently, somebody linked to this picture of a fellow cosplayer. In case you don’t recognize the character, that is Cherry Darling from the Robert Rodriguez grindhouse film, Planet Terror. During the course of the film, Cherry loses her leg and it is replaced with a machine gun (hey, it’s a Rodriguez¬† film — you were expecting reality?)

But let us get back to the story of the young woman cosplaying this character. Her name is Lacey Henderson, and she is a model. And yes, she lost her leg to cancer at age 10. However, that did not stop her from being selected to cosplay Cherry Darling at the 2007 San Diegon Comic-Con (the mecca for All the Geeky Things) on behalf of the Weinstein Company’s release of Planet Terror on DVD. She posed for pictures and answered fan questions for the run of the convention.

Some people might call it tokenism, or objectification of her disability. I call it otherwise. I see her as an inspiration to those of us with visible disabilities who want to be noticed for something more than just our disability.Truthfully, I’m glad the Weinstein Company decided to consider hiring an amputee rather than trying to work with a model who did not have a disability.

There are some web sites out there that tell you how to do this cosplay “and still keep both your legs!” I find this to be more than a little squoodgy, because the message is that yes, you normals can have fun playing crip dress up! And at the end of it, you still have both your legs! And I think that dilutes the message Henderson is trying to send.

But I cannot help but feel that maybe if she can do it, so can I. We are each in our own ways, reminding people to see us as more than just our disability.

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3 Responses to On being visible

  1. Miche says:

    I get a bit irritated at people wearing empty glasses frames as a fashion accessory. I’ve worn glasses most of my life and hey, that’s my adaptive technology, you assholes, not your fucking fashion statement! I just wonder if people would also think it’s “sooooo cooool” to use crutches or a wheelchair as a fashion accessory.

    Sadly, I think some people would.

    • thatwordgrrl says:

      As part of a cosplay for a character, I don’t particularly mind the use of empty glasses frames.

      OTOH, I can see where some people might turn that into a Fake Geek Girl thing (see, she’s not a REAL Geek Girl). Not saying that you are, but I have seen that argument turn into “You are not a geek girl just because you put on a pair of fake glasses. You are just a whore in glasses.” Which is problematic in its own way.

  2. Pingback: Not Your Geek Science Project | Not Your Teachable Moment

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