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Becoming Wonder Woman

DSC_0839In my opinion, the best part of the movie Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Sprinkled throughout the movie as Diana Prince, she finally appears, armor-clad at the end of the movie as Wonder Woman. She comes to the rescue of both heroes, and boy does she kick some ass. Last summer, the new Wonder Woman movie trailer premiered at San Diego Comicon and according to my husband Michael, I “lost my shit”.

My journey towards becoming Wonder Woman began last year when I was poking around the artisan shopping website Etsy. I saw a fantastic re-creation of the Wonder Woman (Batman V Superman) movie costume available from JEFXStore. The listing was for a full cosplay costume complete with tiara, armband, the iconic “bracelets”, lasso, sword, and shield props, as well as the bodice, skirt and leg/foot armor. At the time, there was nothing else like it out there. It’s obvious the time, attention to detail and dedication that went into making this costume. After much deliberation, soul-searching and a blessing from my husband, I pulled the trigger and bought one. My intention was to wear it at the 2017 Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) in Seattle.

For the past several years my husband and I have attended ECCC. If you don’t know about Comicon, it’s hard to explain. It’s a weekend event that multiple cities host at different times of the year. Its focus is mainly comic books, but graphic novels, TV shows, and pop culture also have a place at the table. Merchandise booths, artist tables, panel discussions, celebrity autographs and photos are all part of the event. The San Diego Comicon is probably the biggest. It is certainly the one with the most celebrity appearances. I’d say the majority of the attendees dress up in costume or cosplay outfits. Many of the costumes are very detailed including contact lenses, fake weaponry, and wigs. My husband and I have been part of the few who haven’t dressed up in years past, apart from a fan tee shirt. To put it in perspective, my husband calls Comicon the “Nerd Prom”.

About three months out from the event date, I really clamped down hard on my fitness and diet. Both my weightlifting and water trainers knew about the costume. At 5’8”, 145 lbs., a former ballet, and fitness instructor, I’m in good shape and fairly proportionate. With no specific goal in mind, I just wanted to rock the costume with confidence.

Realizing that I was going to be traipsing around Seattle at the beginning of March with little on, I commissioned a cloak to be made by wyrdarmouries, also on Etsy. It was modeled after the one she fashions in the movie, with fur trim. Thank heavens I did! It was wonderfully warm and the fleece was snuggly soft. I loved how the arm hole slits, instead of sleeves (how many cloaks are) showed off the “bracelets”, so a bit of the costume was showing.

DSC_0852As January turned into February, I was sidelined not just once from a foodborne illness, but TWICE, 18 days apart. After the first time, I didn’t eat for a week. I had not regained my strength or stamina fully (nor tummy flora) when I experienced the second episode. With less than a month until Comicon, the timing couldn’t have been worse. After making significant strides in my workouts, I was suddenly reduced to sleeping all day or feebly shuffling about the house. I could barely walk for longer than 30 seconds without needing to sit and rest. Going up stairs wiped me out and taking a shower was like running a marathon. It’s not a diet I endorse, believe me!

I realized something during my training and diet change, gearing up for this event. I can assume most folks wouldn’t notice a difference in my body. Those that know me, already know I work out regularly and have been active all my life with ballet, yoga, and fitness. They know I eat fairly well, so I’m guessing their perception of me won’t change much, if at all. I say this because I made several posts to Facebook about my training and daily caloric burn goals. I’m sure there may be an expectation for my outward physical appearance to have changed but it hasn’t much. Although I am stronger! I, myself was hoping for Linda Hamilton, Terminator 2 shoulders & arms, but in truth, I wasn’t working toward a bodybuilding competition, I was training to feel the best and most confident I could in the WW costume.

The weekend before Comicon, I suited up and my husband took some photos of me at our home. I thought the landscape surrounding our home made for better photos than downtown Seattle. This was also a dress rehearsal of sorts. I tested the costume, shoes, props, hair and make-up. I’m glad I did it because I was able to make a few small changes.

ECCC Day ONE
Suiting up on the big day, I have to admit that there may have been a slight concern bubbling in the back of my head. What if no one really notices the costume? What if no one asks me for a photo? Etc, etc. etc. My concerns were quickly put to rest. Within minutes of losing the cloak (to the coat check), I was not only asked for several photos, but I was also interviewed for GeekWire, as well as videoed for Evening Magazine (Seattle TV show). Over the next several hours, countless people kindly asked for photos (a few didn’t ask but took photos anyway). I received a ton of compliments, some said directly to me, some in passing, some overheard, as well as many thumbs-up and approving head nods. I was also very surprised that there weren’t any other serious Wonder Women contenders, at least this day.

I really enjoyed taking photos with children. Parents of a little girl dressed up as Negan from The Walking Dead asked me to take a photo with their daughter. She was adorable! Hair pulled back, beard drawn on her face, leather jacket, red scarf and even the beloved bat Lucille. I could see the eyes of children (especially girls) light up when they saw me. Tugging on mom or dad’s arm saying, “Look, it’s Wonder Woman!” I’d smile and motion them over for a photo if they weren’t already on their way. The impact the costume had on the little ones was surprising to me, but it shouldn’t have been. If I had seen a real life Wonder Woman when I was a child, I too would have been awestruck.

This was my first experience spending any serious time in the get-up. I was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable it was. Although, I did develop a mind numbing headache after several hours. I believe my head piece was a bit tight, but being dehydrated didn’t help either. My feet also paid a small price. It’s amazing just how long you are willing to tolerate discomfort when folks are making over you, with compliments and wanting photos.

IMG_1259ECCC Day Two
Same song, second verse and more of the same. A few folks asked if I had seen the Lego Wonder Woman, located in a different part of the event. Michael and I went in search and indeed there was a life size Lego Wonder Woman. As I was posing for him to take a photo or two, many people gathered around and started snapping photos. While standing next to the Lego figure, a man commented that he thought I was also a life-size statue. Aww, how kind.

This day, there were a few Wonder Women and even a few Wonder Men. Several gals wore different renditions (New 52, Pin-up, Classic) and two others donned the movie version I was wearing. I don’t feel I’m being biased, but my costume was the most accurate, detailed and complete. Thanks, JEFXStore!

At one point in the day, we were waiting for an artist to return to his booth so I could pick up a piece of WW art. Since I was standing still, a few people asked for photos. One particular man, I saw in the back of the group, was taking a photo (w/o asking) as he walked by. I looked at him and realized it was an ex-boyfriend. He didn’t recognize me. I said, “I know you.” Then it came to him. Quite a funny little transformation occurred. Suddenly he was all smiles, a tad flustered, maybe even a little embarrassed as he bumbled around his family and said to me “Hey how’s is going?” I totally got the head tilt and Who the hell is she? look from his wife. For that 15 second moment alone, this event was worth it!

Another little interesting slice from the day happened when I tried to get a cab outside the Sheraton hotel by myself. Michael was getting his photograph with Stan Lee and my feet were killing me, so I decided to head back to our condo. I walked out of the hotel and spotted several cabs lined up with the drivers chatting on the sidewalk. I walked up to them, as they were googly eyeing me. I said “Wonder Woman needs a ride.” They asked where to. Second and Lenora. They seemed to conference and then shook their heads and said no. NO?!? Seriously?!? My guess is that this was not far enough and they were looking for a bigger fare. But still! Back to the hotel, I walked. I found a bell boy (again with the googly eyes) and asked for assistance with getting a cab. No Problem! Yes, Ma’am! He whistled and the first cabbie from the same group reluctantly got in his cab and pulled around. I tipped the bell boy and got in the cab. The total fare was $5.60 and all I had were two fives and two twenties. Before giving him the money I said, “I appreciate you coming around. But the next time a girl needs a cab, I suggest you help her out!” Then I gave him ten bucks.

My experience at ECCC as Wonder Woman was really amazing. I tried not to have any expectations and just go with the flow. The response to me and the costume was better than I could have hoped. I was very flattered. People were really kind, sometimes shy, but overall very enthusiastic about Wonder Woman. Michael and I have already discussed attending next year. Since the movie comes out in June, and it’s an event we normally attend, it only makes sense to wear the costume again.

I need to send out a HUGE Thanks to my husband, Michael. I couldn’t have attended the event as WW without his support. He carried a small stash of things for me, and all of our purchases. He dutifully took photos for people (and for me) as well as stepped aside every time he heard, “Can I have a picture with you?” He’d hold my shield and sword when asked, as well as return my sword to the scabbard on my back. He never once rushed me as I was getting ready (suiting up as WW takes some time!) and was always accommodating when I needed him to lace me up in the bodice. He also walked behind me to catch the looks and comments as I walked by folks. AND he even wore a (men’s) Wonder Women tee-shirt. Thanks, Babe! Love you!

IMG_6029Reflecting on my Comicon adventure, I am proud to have been able to embody such an iconic symbol of grace, strength, compassion, and power that is clearly much bigger than myself. I am truly humbled and honored to have played even a small part in such a big phenomenon.
Until next year . . .

Grace   Power   Wisdom   Wonder
___________________________________

In Addition

Like most girls, when I was younger I watched a few Wonder Woman TV episodes with Lynda Carter. But I wouldn’t have called myself a fanatical Wonder Woman fan . . . until now. I’m sure it seems silly, but that movie trailer really spoke to me. Just look at her! Powerful, confident, strong, graceful, innocent and yet worldly as well as beautiful. She is such a bad-ass, how can she not appeal to just about everyone? I was hooked! I promptly jumped on the bandwagon and became her biggest fan overnight. I purchased a few books about the famous Amazon from Amazon (Ha!) and started reading her origin and backstory.

For those who might not know – Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941 and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942. The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986. Wonder Woman was created by American psychologist, lawyer, inventor, advocate for women, and comic book writer William Moulton Marston. Mr. Marston was a very interesting fella, although he was also a bit of a contradiction. To learn more about him and his eccentricities, read Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley.

To bring our story to present day, in October of 2016 the United Nations named Wonder Woman an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. Which is awesome, right!?! Then they stripped her of the title less than two months later because “concerned” United Nations staff members created a petition stating “Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots — the epitome of a pin-up girl.” [1]

REALLY?!? Oh for heaven’s sake! I’m a feminist as much as the next gal, but you can’t have a damned if you do, damned if you don’t attitude. I agree, some comic artists have really sexualized Wonder Woman. It’s very typical in the comic book world. While I don’t agree with it, small strides have been made toward equality. Women drawn with huge boobs, next to nothing on, bent over, looking over her shoulder with a come-hither look is slightly less than porn in my opinion. What those UN petition writing staffers failed to see or know is what Wonder Woman stands for. Had any of them even bothered to read her origin story or any of the classic Golden Age comics? Or did any of them know how unique and different Wonder Woman is compared to her male Superhero counterparts? Probably not. All they saw were the (mostly male) artists that sexualize her.

Perhaps another point worth noting is that sexuality is power. What’s wrong with that? Is Superman in his painted on full unitard not sexy? What about Batman’s black molded body armor and mask? Let’s face it, Superheroes are sexy! There is nothing wrong with that. However, there is a difference (although perhaps a subjective difference) between being sexy and being sexualized. While the range of what is considered sexy is vast and large, I would say drawings of a woman with huge boobs, impossible body proportions, little clothing, in a provocative position can easily be considered sexualized. I know I consider it so. And for the record, male Superhero’s typically don’t deal with sexualization, because it’s not an issue for them. (Picture Spiderman on all fours, looking back at you in a flirtatious manner. Isn’t that ridiculous?)

To address the statement above of what Wonder Woman stands for, she is an ideal of what we can all strive for. Compassion, unity, freedom, equality for all, forgiveness, diplomacy, passion, bravery, peaceful, and nurturing. Her Wikipedia page states “What has remained constant, and is a mainstay of the character, is her nurturing humanity: feeling compassion and having a strong conscience.” [2] That is the Wonder Woman deserving of the title honorary UN ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. Sometimes we really need to look beyond what is right in front of us and see the bigger picture.
[1] http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/13/health/wonder-woman-un-ambassador-trnd/index.html
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Woman

WW San Diego Comic Con Trailer:

 

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