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“Honey, your skirt is a little short.” To be fair, it was a little short. I was dressed in a science officer costume from Star Trek: The Original Series. And at the beginning of the day, I just assumed the lady who commented was pointing out that I needed to tug down the dress a bit. This was my second year going to this con, and my second year costuming there.

Not the sleek little work-appropriate but still sexy jewel tone tunics from the new movie, but the flared, strangely-constructed, unapologetically teal and chartreuse polyester cheerleader dresses that fit perfectly with the (now) retrofuturistic vibe of the original show. Last year I brought several costumes, but only wore one: a fairly conservative X-Men costume that didn’t involve skintight spandex, cleavage or even any bare skin below my neck.

In fact, everyone even slightly officially affiliated with Balticon was respectful, concerned and nerdily-excited about my outfit, my hair, the screen-accurate seams.

The staff, the volunteers, the program participants, even the people working the tables for other events were all wonderful.

For one thing, if I was Yeoman Rand, I would have the perfect blonde basketweave beehive. At a convention like Dragon*Con, or CONvergence, or Pandoracon, in costume I feel like I’m part of the convention crowd.

For another thing, the rank braid on my uniform shows that I’m a LIEUTENANT, thank you very much, Mr. Yes, I’m a good costumer, and I look good in my costumes, but at the end of the day, I’m another nerd geeking out like crazy over her favorite subjects.

Cosplay is not Consent campaigns are great for events like Dragon*Con and CONvergence, but the kind of problems at this con were different and not easily addressed through something like that.

I felt like they really, really wanted me to go back to my room and change into a long, historically accurate, shapeless Medieval dress. Either would be acceptable: not too aggressively feminine, but not dressed nicely enough to make them nervous they were being invaded by mundanes.Part of the fascination on social media with watching Abercrombie and Fitch’s fall from grace seemed to be a form of schadenfreude, against the pretty people who had made our lives hell in high school/college/life and who so proudly wore that brand as a mark of tribal membership.We celebrate our community for being thoughtful and intelligent and welcoming of weirdness.Women at the other end of the spectrum, who don’t meet the standards of nerdy attractiveness set by the menfolk, are ignored entirely.If you don’t fit that happy medium of “kinda hot, but not hot enough that you know you don’t have to sleep with me”, you’re either a non-entity, or a walking Barbie and treated as such. It is just an extension of the same in-group presentation policing that every aspect of society does.

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