At its heart, Geek Bomb is fundamentally about celebrating, inspiring, and getting to know women in geek. Founded by our Boss Bomb Maude Garrett and featuring a Bomb Squad filled with diverse, talented, and totally badass ladies, Geek Bomb has a mindset much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Females are strong as hell. And it’s about time we start celebrating that again. So, we’ve decided to relaunch Women in Geek, our interview series that spotlights, shows off, and talks about the wonderful ladies who are leading the geek entertainment field.
Joining us this week is CutiePieSensei! A cosplayer whose superhero looks are beyond compare, CutiePieSensei has honed her skills in a multitude of different arenas: art, gaming, makeup, and, of course, cosplaying. Is there anything she can’t do? We had the chance to chat it up with CutiePieSensei about her biggest inspirations, the most challenging obstacles she’s had to overcome, and what advice she’d give to her fellow women in the geek world. Geek Bomb: First off, when did you realize that you were, in essence, a geek? What geeky things are you up to now?
CutiePieSensei: Hmmm…. I think I always have been in some respects. As a kid, it was pretty normal to play Pokemon and watch YuGiOh and collect cards and whatnot. I always liked art as well and started dabbling in anime on Toonami/Adult Swim once I reached high school. I was never really teased or anything for it though. Currently cosplay is my main “geekdom” credit, though I also work for a game studio, so I guess that counts too?
GB: Let’s get our foot in the door by asking how you got your foot in the door. What’s your industry origin story – how did you get started? What advice can you give to those looking to break into your industry?
CPS: Things compounded my freshman year of college when my boyfriend introduced me to cons, serious PS3 gaming, and anime streaming sites. I kinda fell into the whole geeky thing head first at that point [laughs]. He knew I liked artistic things and somewhat nerdy stuff and thought I’d have a good time since he had already gone before. BOY, WAS HE RIGHT. I immediately decided to cosplay at that point.
All I can tell people who want to get started is just to do it. I don’t even know if I’d want to use the term “break into the industry” because in a way, that kinda feeds into the idea that you’re doing this to be successful and “famous.” I know there is a lot of pressure to compete against “big cosplayers,” but honestly, you should just focus on having fun. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the internet attention and drama and lose sight of why you want to do it in the first place. Just make sure you start small and in scope. No noob cosplayer needs their first cosplay to be a full-armor set.
GB: What is the most difficult obstacle that you’ve had to overcome in your industry or maybe even still overcoming?
CPS: Honestly, I’m still struggling with how people link my race to almost everything I do. People try to be positive when they bring it up, but it’s frustrating that they don’t see how problematic it is to bring up my race. I want to be able to show people that your race doesn’t matter when you cosplay, but clearly it does to some people as my Wonder Woman was constantly called Nubia (though it clearly was Gal Gadot version) and I was talked down some for not wearing more “natural” hair with my Supergirl. I think the only reason I didn’t get that type of remark on my Kill la Moon cosplay was because it was an original mashup design. Calling someone the “black/ethnic version” of a character instead of just the character is sorta offensive and I try to call it out when I can in hopes of educating one person at a time. However, at the same time I know I have to stop putting so much thought into that kind of stuff. I still get my feelings hurt, but I’m trying to put a shell over my hurt so words don’t matter lol. Unfortunately it’s a necessity.
GB: Picture yourself at ten years old. What advice would you give her? What would she love to know about present-day you? Anything by which she’d be surprised?
CPS: “You’ll get prettier, stop worrying about it.” [laughs] That’s not me joking, though. I’m being dead serious. I still have self esteem issues today because of how I looked/felt as a child. I wasn’t really around many kids that looked like me, PLUS I had glasses and braces at the same time. I definitely was going through my ugly duckling phase.
I think she’d be super proud and happy to know that I ended up working basically in my dream field, that I didn’t stay ugly forever, and that I cosplay. The cosplay thing would be surprising because I didn’t know that was a thing at that age, but she’d be happy because I’ve always liked making things.
GB: Who are your female role models and/or inspirations?
CPS: Is it too cliche to say Sheryl Sandberg? She is the COO of Facebook and is definitely an awesome role model. I read her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and recommend it to everyone. It talks about women in the workplace, was for us to kick a** and how to be seen as equal to your male counterparts and NOT hold yourself back.
Cosplay-wise: Kamui Cosplay. Her skills are craaazy, and I’ll probably never reach that level of awesomeness, but I hope to be able to get close. Reach for the stars and you will at least hit the moon, right?
GB: Who are some of your favourite fictional female characters of all time?
CPS: That’s so hard. I’d probably say Storm. She’s so ridiculously powerful, but also smart and takes no s***. She’s a goddess for a reason. I think she’s a great role model. I mean, granted, we don’t have godly super powers, but I love how she approaches situations thoughtfully [and] with class, yet still is snarky in appropriate situations. And I mean, she married a king. [laughs]
GB: How would you like to see this industry grow for not only women, but within the entertainment space?
CPS: The cosplay community is going through some growing pains right now. It is full of competition between women and is getting oversaturated I think by a very specific type of woman cosplayer. As the cosplay community grows, it becomes harder to keep it about what it is SUPPOSED to be about, which to me is having fun and paying tribute to a character. I want it to get to a point where it isn’t about how attractive you are or how much skin you’re showing.
With it becoming more mainstream in entertainment, more non-cosplayers are having input on cosplay. Sexy cosplays are awesome, but now it has become so prominent to the point where it almost functions as a barrier to entry to the cosplay community. Newer cosplayers now, in many cases, feel forced to do super sexy costumes in order to feel like their cosplay will be accepted. Hopefully in the future we can get back to there being an even balance of women cosplayers who do different types of costumes and who have varying ethnicities and body types.
GB: Where can people discover more about you? Socials/website/podcast or channel links.
Thanks again to the lovely CutiePieSensei for joining us to celebrate the magic of women in the nerd world!