When I was modeling, the one thing about it that really nagged at me was that there were very few pictures taken of me as myself. (If this is a revelation to you, I used to model, I don’t anymore, I quit doing it to do something else, and in the way of life, it seems like kind of a long time ago.)
Anyway, a lot of photos were taken of me, but they weren’t of ME. They were of a character I was playing. Even behind-the-scenes shots were often a character I was playing, and in other parts of life, I was rarely photographed. I have a million shots of an idea that I disguised myself as, and almost no photographs of me, just doing something, taken because somebody thought my life was worth documenting. There were some modeling photos taken that I consider to be me, shot as myself, and if you’re a photographer whose work I have said that about, you have received one of my highest compliments. I do not disrespect the work in which I played a role. It just bothered me after a point that people were interested in what role I could play, but there was hardly anyone who thought having a memento of my real existence was worthwhile.
I am writing today to serve two purposes.
A) Sites like Kotaku have been featuring blogs concerned with the Hottest Gamer Girl contest that Maxim is holding, and I wanted to let you know that despite the threat, everything is going to be alright.
B) A lot of girls I know are in the contest. Too many to relink all of their posts on Facebook without being really spammy, in a really creepy way. And yet, since internet support from people I know once helped me get my mortgage paid for a year, I feel that karma dictates that I show support to them.
To Point A:
I told you the little story at the beginning, because I don’t think that its awful for Maxim to feature girls based on a hobby. I don’t consider it “fetishizing” as the Kotaku blog calls it; and I don’t think that being photographed just because of your physical appearance alone is any more noble or empowering than being photographed because you’re physically attractive and you have an interest in something that the intended viewer has an interest in.
Most guys I know (and most people I know, in general) find a person who is just physically attractive beautiful, but replaceable, and not that interesting in the long term. Yes, a picture will catch their eye. But what seems to make someone really, really, REALLY attractive to most people is when that person has a personality, a passion for something, when they engage in things. What specific personality traits, passions, and interests are points of attraction vary from person to person, but its these things that make the attraction to someone really stick. Its true even for celebrity crushes – think about someone you know who has had different wallpapers of the same person for years – its most likely not just about the appearance but also about the perceived personality of the person. I’m not inclined to believe its a bad thing when a magazine which capitalizes mostly on attraction realizes that physical appearance isn’t the only thing that’s attractive about people.
Are you still scared? If so, consider this: I hear nerds say a lot that they’d like to see someone who is sincerely interested in gaming get Olivia Munn’s job. Yes those girls are out there. But no one who casts for jobs like that is ever going to see them if they stay home being careful not to capitalize on their looks or seem like attention whores.
I’m not going to fault Jason Schreier for eye rolling at some of Maxim’s copy.
The worst thing about contests like this is something that I haven’t heard any one mention yet. The only thing that I’m afraid of is that people will be inspired to witch hunt for the “real” girls, and contestants will resort to trying to prove that other contestants are less real than themselves. The fear of the fake geek girl is the worst thing we have to be afraid of – so here’s to hoping no one goes all McCarthy. To reassure you to that end, I will say that I know several girls who are doing the contest, and while they all have their own reasons, they are all connected by their interest in gaming. Many of them want to call attention to things they do such as blogs, youtubes, cosplay, cons, ect. more than they want people to reassure them that they are hot. And I took one for the team and looked around at the others too – a lot of them seem like cool girls. I laughed at Tradechat’s videos, I read Gidget’s story about Final Fantasy helping her to overcome her difficulty with reading, I admired cosplay and checked out tattoos… I loved this quote from Krystipryde’s profile:
I am not here to talk about how im “such a better girl gamer than all these other silly girls! None of the other girls actually play games!!” I am here to represent the community, keep your catty comments to yourselves – it’s embarrassing to all of us. Be confident in your knowledge and ability, first and foremost. We are all representing together!
Maxim may not be something that’s of interest for everyone, and its not necessarily the Nobel prize of gaming.. but its cool to see how people can make something as positive as they want it to be.
Now to point B:
Like I said, I want to support people I know in what they do, because people I know have really supported me in the past, and yet I don’t think it fair to spam my feeds. So here are the girls I know who have chosen to do this contest. I’m not promising you they are exactly what you think a gamer should be, or this that, or the other thing. I’m just saying – they’re out there, they’re real people with thoughts and goals and interests, and if you can’t fathom why anyone would ever choose to do something like this, you should have a conversation with one of them and find out. (PS I just know I’m going to miss someone, I apologize if I do. Point it out if I do.) (In the order that I located their links in.)