(picture courtesy this cosplay interview, RenoBen photography)
Different cultures figured that tall=beautiful (in much the same meaning as healthy, strong, has better chances of survival and will better take care of the children). So different devices to make one look taller were invented:
- European culture is most familiar with heels. Note that heels on the boots were present for men as well in the medieval. They lift you up a few inches and make it not comfortable to walk – in fact, standing on heels every day may ruin your legs.
- Japanese culture has their own wooden sandals, that have extra wooden blocks going down, so you stand on them. It’s also kind of uncomfortable, and possible was invented to avoid rain and dirt, not to look taller.
- Roller skates lift you up by exactly as much as diameter of the wheels. So, biggest wheels are for Tempest (currently discontinued production), they are 110mm.
- The are models of exoskeleton, aka goat legs, that actually make you almost a meter taller, and each step you make becomes really long. It can be thought about as a more stable version of stilts.
However, in Japanese culture there appeared a very symbolic image of a “mecha girl”. From a technical point of view, it is a highly unrealistic (“imaginary”) exoskeleton that can fly. From an artist’s point of view, and why mecha girls have small but stable following around the world, they represent a contrast between innocence of the heart and power of the industrial age. This image has been used in different media, you can recognize it if there is a huge machine, ship or robot, factory if you wish, but the “soul” of that machine (the central computer) takes the form of a young girl. Most of the famous robot stories, as well as space operas and sci-fi are inspired by the industrial age. It is crazy how many power plants have been build, how huge the factories are inside and how enormous the machines are that operate in those factories. For an artists, this power always have been intimidating, and in the attempt to reconcile it with human intentions and moral, artist creates an image of a very vulnerable, very alive core of the gigantic tech.
So that is why the image is powerful – there are plenty of guys who are into big tech, like fighter jets, ships and robots. Typically those folks also miss out on girl attention, so an image of an attractive girl surrounded by their favorite metal is something they want to keep close to their hearts. Not so many girls cosplay these kind of “male fantasies”, partly also because it is hard. But once you think about it, it can be another way to make yourself taller – if these leg attachments can be made light, and can at will extend 10 or 20 centimeters, they can be a comfortable and fashionable stilts to stand in. It will hardly make it to mainstream fashion, but it’s a good idea for kickstarter. Here’s what inspired me:
I was at a k-pop dance competition, which was overcrowded, and somewhere in one of the last rows of standing people there was a short girl who was such a big fan of k-pop music, that she actually jumped up every second to see the stage that was hidden from her behind the back of others. It was so unfair to her, that everybody else in the crowd were taller than her, so unless she is in the front row, she has no chance of seeing the stage. The mecha stilts would even her chances, and at the same time make her look part of the culture she is cheering for.
Unfortunately, most of the costumes people make are heavy and unwieldy, and don’t actually lift the person wearing it. So the kickstarter would be for making a sturdy design, that attaches to your legs, is foldable, easy to keep balance, and looks stylish. For now, let me put the mecha cosplays that are already there for inspiration: