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Thomas-Parr, Georgia (2023) 'Anime girls embodied: an introduction to British maid cosplay.' Feminist Media Studies. (Forthcoming)

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Japanese media (including anime) offers representations of female characters that, in their cute girlishness, differ from mainstream representations of femininity in British media. In the UK, anime conventions are becoming increasingly popular, in which anime characters are brought to life via cosplay (“costume role-play”). This study observes maid cafés as a feminine-presenting cosplay phenomenon where participants perform as tropes of girl characters from anime, while dressed in a “kawaii” (cute) maid uniform. As this article observes, maid café cosplay is a “shōjo” (girl) phenomenon that relates to two concepts: “kawaii” (cuteness) and “moe”—an affectual, delighted response to that cuteness. Intended as an introduction to maid cosplay studies in a global context, the paper presents maid cosplay as a topic of interest to girlhood and feminist scholarship that reflects an underlying paradox at play: in spite of the discourses of fetishization underpinning the maid uniform, maid cosplayers feel liberated from the pressures of sexualisation in their presentation and performance as kawaii (cute), fictional shōjo (girl) characters.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Girlhood, cosplay, anime, subculture, femininity
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts
ISSN: 14680777
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2023 16:41
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, Other

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