They say that sex sells and in the huge world of Cosplay “sexy gamer girls” have become highly recognised due to their somewhat revealing representation of various characters.
Exibit A: Jessica Nigri. An American gamer who became ‘cosplay famous’ after her cosplay of a ‘sexy Pikachu’ at San Diego Comic-Con International went viral in 2009.
Her career has since exploded, winning a contest in 2012 to be the face of the protagonist in Goichi Suda’s video game ‘Lollipop Chainsaw’. Her achievements and involvements in various anime and gamer conventions across the globe have resulted in the development of a massive online fan base. What interested me the most was her involvement in ‘crossplay’ (genderbending characters). Because unlike ‘crossdressing’, there is very little stigma put on ‘crossplay’ within the cosplay community. People often dress as a character they like and whether they are male of female is often irrelevant to this art.
Her cosplay success has led her to open up an online print store called NIGRI PLEASE! Here she sells revealing posters of herself dressed as various characters from games such as Pokemon, League of Legends, Assassins Creed, Borderlands and Lollipop Chainsaw. In addition to some rather raunchy underwear pictures, Nigri’s web-store also sells posters of her modelling different characters from Studio Ghibli films, Dragonball Z and Comic books.
When ciphering through the images of Nigri online, it is apparent that she has created a public image based on her looks and sexuality and not just her knowledge of gaming and/or anime culture. My brother, who proudly flaunts one of her underwear images as the wallpaper on his phone said, “Make sure you include the boobs” when I mentioned I was going to do a blog post on her. In all honesty, they are hard to miss.
The ‘sexy factor’ of many female cosplayers tends to be seen as ‘self-objectification’ and it is an issue which has been continually explored throughout this cosplay culture (read more: Here, here and here). In saying that however, Nigri’s cosplaying over the years has become more than just a hobby like most, it is her career. She has fan pages dedicated to her and a YouTube account that helps to share her exciting cosplay experiences with her many fans.
After viewing this video and many others on Nigri’s channel, I feel as though this would seriously be the best gig to have! It is not only the extravagant costumes and makeup of the cosplayers which seems to draw people in, but the whole convention/expo atmosphere bringing people with common interests together in a social setting. It is clear how much the art of cosplay has grown to become such a massive part of western convention culture. Nigri’s personality is bubbly and adorable and her fame, although highly sexualised is in my opinion not highly objectifying or exploiting but instead an external method of marketing to help expand this convention culture even further – and it has done just that!
Although, this sexualised form of marketing makes me wonder if the Asian cosplay culture is the same, or is it us western cultures who have created this ‘sexy gamer girl’ image in order to boost awareness and sales. None the less, cosplay does not seem to force a divide between the east and west, but instead reveals the coming together of the two due to a common love for the digital world.