Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The S.W.A.G. (Secretly We Are Girls) Project

This project derives from my hobbies within the Cosplay (a term short for "costume play") Community. Although I have only been active in cosplay for a little over a year, I have been attending anime/comic-book conventions and admired cosplay for nearly 10 years. So I was able to witness the growing changes within the community concerning female cosplayers.

About a decade ago, convention crowds were always predominantly male. But now that Cosplay has been getting extremely popular within the U.S., the numbers between male and female attendees are slowly beginning to even out. And although this is good for the conventions and publicity, it isn't always good for the females that attend. Due to the natures of the female body and the way that female characters are portrayed in movies, video games, cartoons and Japanese animation, female cosplayers often dress in either ridiculously cute or scantily clad clothing. It's not that they are asking for that sort of attention (most of the time) at these conventions, but it automatically draws unwanted attention no matter how hard they try to avoid it. They are constantly in danger of being groped, harassed, and even raped within a place that is supposed to be considered a "safe and friendly community". Thus is why many females (including I) crossplay as male characters while attending public events such as these. Not only is it fun and challenging to dress up as the opposite gender, but it also plays as a safety measure.

And this is how the S.W.A.G. (Secretly We Are Girls) Project came to be. 

It is an ongoing project, a series of photographs of females crossdressing as males. I have used my own experiences and understanding of gender roles and gender portrayals in the cosplay community today to fuel the concept behind this project. I asked females that I know (who almost always crossplays as male characters) to "portray their own male character". However, this does not fall under the Cosplay category (not entirely, at least). This is something a little more towards performativity, where the model takes on the male role and appearance as a response to the social conditions of a community where they are not always safe.

I encourage the viewer to take a second look at the photographs. I encourage them to look closer and begin to see why they are secretly girls, how they are secretly girls, or even IF they are secretly girls. 

We dress like men not only because we want to. But we dress like men because sometimes, we have no other choice.

We want to fool the world. Because although we may look like this... secretly, we are girls.

Oh! And if you are curious... THIS is actually how the title for S.W.A.G. started. It began as a joke between the models and I, commenting on how "she's got swag", which I thought was very funny and ironic in a way as the term swag is usually used with males. I decided to use it as the name for this project because it seemed to fit the project in the ironic sense. And as I was deciding on an acronym for it, the models jumped in with "Secretly We Are Gay", and that is how I got this photograph:

Before I knew it, the title for the S.W.A.G.Project became official, and I decided on using the acronym "Secretly We Are Girls".

Many thanks and Credits to:
MODELS: Madi, Mae, Irene, Kristina
Studio Assistance: Madi, Kristina

For more information and images of this project, please visit my website: kurozone.net
You can also follow this project and the rest of my works at my Facebook page. 


  1. This has to be one of my favorite projects, I never heard of costly before today but I am definitely interested and will be looking more into it! I will be requesting you on Facebook! And hope to own a tshirt one day

  2. Sanna, great initiative..would be visiting your website from time to time. keep it up

  3. Your photography is really cool and i enjoyed your presentation. You opened my eyes to topics about cross dressing and gender roles which was really intresting. Thanks for sharing this with us it was awesome.