The Victorian Batgirl: a Steampunk Feminist Perspective

Image from tumblr of Victorian-era cosplay

Image from the thegraphicsfairy.com website

Some things never change, and one of the great features of the Victorian era was the enthusiasm for fancy dress. Fancy dress was the precursor of cosplay, and I am entertained by the concept that my great granny probably liked dressing up in costumes just as much as I do. Modern cosplayers can be inspired by some of the famous costumes from the Victorian era, like the Bat Girl costume. Both a photograph and an illustration of the costume is shown above.

Bat Girl image from the Museum of Victoria

Bat Girl image from the Museum of Victoria

Bat costumes seem to be a favourite of the Victorians. I can understand why … bat costumes are mysterious and dramatic, and much more exciting and sexy than a fairy costume. Bats have a sinister connection to vampires and we all know how popular vampires were in Victorian-era Gothic fiction.

Little Demon

Just think of the implications in the characterization of your protagonist (or antagonist) in choosing a bat costume for a fancy dress party in a Steampunk narrative. What does it say about her motivations? Is she secretly longing to play the part of a ‘bad girl’? Is she longing for the freedom that wings would provide?

Batman's Granddad

Of course, gentlemen also had their own version of the bat costume. The image above; I can never quite figure out if this image is photoshopped or not. But where a Batman might be scary, a Batgirl tends to be sophisticated. Edgy. And, as a zoologist, I love bats. A girl in a bat costume is confident and in control!

Batgirl with lots of bats

To make your own costume based on the Victorian Bat Girl costume, go to this link: http://www.evadress.com/1887Bat.html

To make your own costume based on the Victorian Bat Girl costume, go to this link:
http://www.evadress.com/1887Bat.html

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9 Comments

Filed under Characterization, Cosplay, Fashion, Steampunk, Steampunk Cosplay, Steampunk Feminist, Victorian Era, Victorian-era Fashion

9 responses to “The Victorian Batgirl: a Steampunk Feminist Perspective

  1. So brilliant! I love these so much. Really fires up the imagination, too!

  2. Whatever was in their heads?

  3. Rob

    Just wondering about information of the elderly bearded gent with the bat mask , who and why ?

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