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GeekGirls Corp

Local cosplayers organization reinforces the empowerment of women within the geek community


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For any woman who has cosplayed at a local convention or event, you've most likely dealt with two different kinds of attention from patrons. Those who think your costume is badass and deserves praise, and then the no-so-appreciative who stare and leer and snap photos when you're not looking. At the most recent Salt Lake Comic Con, those kind of disruptions were quelled greatly with an increased police presence, but with our geek community steadily rising, more action needs to be taken by the cosplayers themselves to help end these kinds of acts and make the artform thrive. Enter: GeekGirls Corp, a local women cosplayers organization reinforcing the empowerment of women within the geek community while also giving them a platform to showcase their talents. Today we chat with the founders of the organization about forming the group and their thoughts on the local geek culture. (All pictures courtesy of GGC.)

Amber Dahlface & Dez Whovian
GeekGirls Corp on Facebook

Gavin: Hey ladies! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Dez: Hi, I’m Dez or Dezcreepcore in social media! I have been a part of the geek community as far as I can remember. I recently got into cosplay and finding a way to make my outfits unique and different. I’m a girly girl when it comes to fashion and makeup, I enjoy traveling and trying new things, I live a very healthy geek life, and I love body art!

Amber: Hello all! My name is Amber, but I usually go by Dahlface or even “hey” you if you must. I have been a lover of all things geek since I was a wee lass. But my biggest loves are Star Wars and Disney. I am always trying to incorporate those two things in my wardrobe so if you see me, I’m always wearing one or the other. I’m also an artist, gamer, Cosplayer, and love helping out with charity events.

Gavin: How did each of you get into all things geekdom and what were some of your favorite things growing up?

Amber: I had 4 brothers so I didn’t have a choice. Seriously though, since birth. As I said, I LOVE Star Wars, but also some other things that are nostalgic for me is Flash Gordon, Nintendo and Batman. The Legend of Zelda, I am a complete sucker for as well! I latched onto my brothers a lot and got sucked into the same things they adored.

Dez: Probably since the day I could hold a Nintendo controller. I grew up moving a lot due to my parents work and the only consistent things I had were my video games and comics so they are a huge part of my life. Growing up the main things that sucked me in were probably video games such as the Zelda franchise! I was also very into animes like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball.


Gavin: As you got older, how did you first discover cosplay and what were your first thoughts on it?

Dez: I first discovered cosplay when I was living in Malaysia in 2005. I noticed a lot of people would dress up and cosplay as an everyday outfit which I found amazing! The detail and the passion these people showed in their outfits caught my eye. That inspired me to start wearing very edgy and fun outfits, but I hadn’t dared to attempt a full cosplay until later.

Amber: I started noticing cosplay probably around 2004. I always wanted to go to a convention and dress up as my favorite characters, but didn’t know how to get started in it. So I watched articles and would look at pictures to get inspired. I’ve always loved dressing up as different characters since I was a child so for me, I instantly fell in love. Especially when I would see people put their own twist to it.

Gavin: At what point did you decide you wanted to try it and what was your first costume?

Amber: Since Utah finally put on its own convention, I decided to get brave and go for it. I was a pin up girl version of Boba Fett. I had a '50s style dress that had Boba Fett colors, had my helmet, and jetpack and couldn’t have been more pleased. My addiction increased tremendously as I was walking around with all of the other cosplayers and seeing the ideas they created.

Dez: In 2007, I was invited to a Doctor Who Runway Party and I decided to attempt my first cosplay and I was the Tenth Doctor! We had to walk a runway and act like the character we were portraying. I felt so welcome and it was so much fun after that I was sucked in.


Gavin: What's it been like for each of you to go to conventions and events dressing up?

Dez: For the most part, which is the part I like to focus on, it has been very welcoming and very fun! I like seeing the looks on people’s faces when they recognize who I am. Celebrities have also gotten a kick out of it! Amber and I dressed up at the Torchwood team (Jack and Gwen) to meet the actors and they absolutely loved it! Recently when I cosplayed Catwoman I had so many children recognize me and it was so fun taking pictures and acting like I was defeated by a tiny Batman. At Anime Banzai, Amber and I were serenaded with the Pokemon theme song when we dressed up as Ash and Pikachu. It has been so fun and welcoming and I seriously feel like I do fit this community.

Amber: I love it so much. It’s so much fun seeing other people get excited with your cosplay and want to take pictures with you. Especially the little kids. I love seeing the looks on their faces and how excited they get. And like Dez said, dressing up in our Torchwood outfits and seeing how excited Eve Myles and John Barrowman were, was totally worth it. And Anime Banzai was so much fun. I was shocked when we had people come up and recognize who are team was. I’m not used to that, but it’s very flattering and sweet how people have been. I just feel like I finally found my place with the best people you could ask for.

Gavin: When did the two of you first meet each other and become friends?

Dez: Amber actually reached out to me to do an interview and we decided to grab some dinner after. During that dinner, we realized how much we had in common and how our plans and goals were the same! Ever since then it’s been plotting and plotting for the future!

Amber: Yup! I was totally fan-girling over her and after meeting her face to face, it was instant. We both are obsessed with the same things and we couldn’t help, but have an excuse to hang out and play. She’s a genuine soul she is.


Gavin: How did the idea for GeekGirls Corp come about?

Dez: After Salt Lake Comic Con in September, Amber and I got together to discuss future cosplays, conventions and plans and it came to us… There are no female cosplay groups locally to inspire other female geeks to embrace who they are and express their love for all things that are geeky! That’s how this idea came to life! I had a panel at Fantasy Con addressing females in the geek community and the amount of messages and people that came to me thanking me or asking more questions made me want to keep spreading a positive message about female geeks.

Amber: We know how difficult it can be to be a female geek and feel that acceptance. There will always be someone to tear you down. Like Dez said, we wanted to be an influence and help other female geek embrace their creativity and feel they have the support needed. I have a daughter who happens to love geek things as well and I want her to feel brave about her passion. There are a lot of girls who feel like they are alone and we want to reach out to them to know they aren’t. We just feel really passionate about it and thought starting a group would be great!

Gavin: What was it like putting the group together and bringing in new members?

Amber: I love my boys and for me it was obvious to have them there. I’ve worked with them on projects before so for me it was a no-brainer. I met Ainsley from Dez and we felt she would be a great addition to help the positive influence we want to spread and work her cosplay magic. We seriously make a great team and we all have an understanding of each other. I am all about us working together as a team and ensuring we make things as fair as possible.

Dez: It came very natural I think to us. We were already friends with the boys in the team and they are totally on board with this so it felt great! Ainsley also joined the team and her cosplay crafting skills are superb! Having her in the team is also great because not only is she a great cosplayer that can teach us many things, but she is a geek like us fighting for the same things we are!


Gavin: What was the driving force behind having it be a women empowerment group in the geek community?

Dez: Like I said before, holding that panel about Females in the Geek Community, I realized many people are unaware that there is some bullying within the community. Many women feel like they cannot be openly geeky or when they do show their geek side they are targeted. Granted this does not happen to ALL females and it is not ONLY females but it is something we have all been subjected to and so we wish to fight it. We want females to be empowered when they cosplay and when they show their geek side not ashamed and scared.

Amber: Ashley Eckstein has been a great influence for me. I love how she embraces other females to feel comfortable and strong with their passion. It made me sad that we didn’t have anything like this locally and since I have a daughter, it really helped me to decide that having that support system for each other is a must. I can’t stand bullying and it breaks my heart to see girls suffer because they feel they can’t express who they are. It’s okay to have you passion. It’s okay to take a stand and not feel like you have to hide. We want to help others feel that empowerment and have them help others they see in need as well.

Gavin: For those who may not know, what kind of treatment have women in cosplay been subjected to over the years?

Amber: Well, I have seen a lot more objectifying. It infuriates me. I am seeing the increase of raunchy comments, grabbing and harassing. These women work hard on their outfits. Regardless of what they wearing, it does not mean you have permission to do what you want with them. It frustrates me that these cosplayers are starting to feel like they can’t be safe at a convention due to some idiot thinking it's okay to do what they want. I have heard from people, “Well when they are dressed like that, they are obviously asking for it.” Just like a girl wearing a sweatshirt and jeans asks for it as well? No. I feel in ways it’s getting worse which is why taking a stand is so important for me.

Dez: Where do I begin? The "Cosplay is Not Consent" is a good one to start with. It is a movement geared towards having no harassment towards con goers. Keep your hands to yourself and if you want pictures with someone you need to ask. It’s all about respecting others and being kind. Others cosplayers I know and myself have definitely had those moments where people just grab onto to us or our cosplay and want to look at it closer or get a picture. That is definitely NOT okay. We are people too I will gladly show you my cosplay and have a picture with you but there is no need to treat me like I am an object. Another thing that has happened is when people go on a questioning rampage to try and prove you are not a “real” geek. A friend of mine was dressed as Black Cat and a man kindly asked for a picture and she agreed. Right after he began questioning her outfit saying it was inaccurate and she only dressed like that for the attention. After questioning her very harshly about the character and answering everything correctly, he began using foul words and was eventually removed from the convention. My friend has, unfortunately, quit cosplaying due to similar incidents. I have personally gone through similar questioning rampages about why my cosplays are not accurate or “right”. I simply say I add my own twist and I do it for me. Not everyone will like my outfits or my answers, but I do not have the time for those people haha.


Gavin: What kind of support and community does the Corp provide for those who take part in it?

Dez: We provide a team that is welcoming and accepting of who you are! Everyone should be accepted for who they are especially in the geek community. We were the ones bullied in school and made fun of for being nerdy, geeky, dorky, etc. Our community should be more accepting and friendly and sadly we are not. Our team is here to show everyone we need to stick together and all be geeky together.

Amber: I agree with Dez. We want everyone to feel welcomed. People already have a hard time with self-esteem and feeling like they can’t find the confidence and support they desperately need. We get it. We’ve been there. We want people to feel like they can have the friendships they desire and the support that is needed. We have a deep love for this community and for the geek life. Let’s do this together!

Gavin: The other part to the group is displaying the creativity that goes into their cosplay work. What kind of a talent pool do we have in Utah?

Amber: Utah has the most AMAZING people! I am always in awe when I see the hard work that others do, the creativity, the time, the tears and bloodshed. And what is incredible as well is that they are more than happy to help you with questions, supplies, and direction. You ask one question and you will get 50 answers. They are amazing. I love living in a state with so many talented people! It’s so awesome seeing the armor that people have made that look like actual metal and its craft foam! Lots of respect.

Dez: We have so much talent here in Utah it is amazing to see what people can make! The best thing is a lot of people in the community are so helpful and willing to teach you. We have people that forge their cosplay pieces, use fiberglass, use worbla/wonderflex, foam board/craft foam/eva foam etc. All the materials you can think of. Another thing to also notice is the detailing people put into their cosplays! Sewing and adding makeup to your cosplay pieces is a great way to add some spark to your outfit.


Gavin: What have been some of the best costumes you've seen over the past year?

Dez: Oh man, that is a lot! There is a Thor that comes to SLCC, from Idaho, and he is spot on! He looks like Chris Hemsworth and his outfit is absolutely perfect! It’s always fun to see someone cosplaying that looks just like the character they cosplay. Some other favorites of mine were at PAX Prime in Seattle this year. This team of Borderlands cosplayers looked absolutely amazing. They had all worked on their outfits for a whole year and had every single detail down perfectly! Those outfits showed a lot of dedication!

Amber: This is tough because there are SO MANY that it’s hard to just choose a few. I’m always going to be a sucker for the Star Wars costumes because, come on! It’s Star Wars! One of my favorites was seeing Groot walk around with a tiny Rocket Racoon. That was so adorable. But I do have to give props to the sweet Eric Allen Hall for his awesome Borg costume. That man has talent!

Gavin: What's the long-term goal behind the group and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Amber: Walter White is our hero and like him, we want to build an empire. Just kidding. I would love if we were able to travel and help spread the word. This is something that we both love to do and we want to be able to help others. Not only is it important to love yourself and be proud of what you do, but you should have fun with it as well. I would love to be able to go to other conventions out of the state to help others and join our dark side. We don’t always have cookies, but I do make awesome cupcakes.

Dez: Long term we honestly just want to spread the message of equality for female geeks and have fun just being us and welcoming others to the community! Hopefully, we will get to travel and spread the message along with meet new people who want to join us.


Gavin: Knowing the kind of treatment that's happened in the past, do you believe Utah conventions are doing their best to prevent it, or are there steps that still need to be taken?

Dez: I think Utah is the place I have had the least trouble in when it comes to treatment. Utah conventions and very safe and very welcoming in my opinion; we all stick together. We also have different areas within the convention where we can go to feel safe along with the teams that are available to us in times of need!

Amber: I have already seen in the community itself to help others feel safe. I think we are definitely headed in the right direction. This is our community. We all love to feel safe and we will continue to work hard to keep it that way. People are making plans on ways to keep each other safe at conventions because you aren’t always going to find security the moment you need it. Having a backup plan so you know where to go in case you feel threatened is such a great idea.

Gavin: You've become very active in the community, and have some events coming up. Tell us about some of the things you'll be doing the rest of the year.

Amber: Yes! The Giving Grinch-Cosplay for Charity event! This has been so much fun to plan and people have been so wonderful! This takes place November 29 from 5-9 p.m. at Mod A Go Go! We are gathering donations for families in need. We are in need of clothing, food and toys for all ages! And like Dez said, we are surprising a family with a well-deserved vacation! There's a ton of other events you will be able to find us at which you can follow up on our Facebook page or website.

Dez: It is a charity event to help a family in need have a magical trip to Disneyland. After this event, you will find us at the Utah Winter Faire!


Gavin: What can we expect from GeekGirls Corp going into next year?

Dez: Next year we will be attending the SLCC conventions including FanX in January, along with Fantasy Con! We are hoping to hit out of state conventions as well! We are currently working on cosplays that will be debuted all next year and we are so excited to share them!

Amber: Lots of growth! On top of the conventions we have planned, there will be more charity events and other projects as well. And of course, cosplay. We are working to get to the point where we can recruit other girls to be a part of GeekGirls Corp for charity events. Stay tuned!

Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Amber: Yes! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our website.