Three day passes sold out weeks before the event and Saturday passes sold out just a few days before it. The celebrity list included the regular Wizard World line up, but one interesting addition was Miss Iowa, Autumn Weaver-Nigro who dressed as Wonder Woman. Autumn is a self-professed nerd who started going to cons and doing cosplay as a way to improve her self-esteem and to deal with bullying she endured at school.
Autumn was born deaf and received cochlear implants at the age of 3, allowing her to have limited hearing. Because she was born deaf, she had difficulties with some sounds and her voice patterns didn’t match those of children who had heard their whole life. This led to a lot of issues in school; children made fun of her voice or left her mean notes claiming she was ugly, had big eyes, or telling her that she had ‘hillbilly teeth.’
As she grew up she turned to superheroes and sci-fi for inspiration. Then when she became a teenager she began dressing up as characters.
“I might be a pageant girl, but I’m also a nerd,” she said. “I love comic books, fantasy, sci-fi, all of that. And when I cosplay I can be whoever and I can do whatever I want. It makes me feel powerful, almost like I can do anything.”
Ms. Weaver-Nigro likes to visit hospitals with a group of like-minded friends so they can encourage others with disabilities and illnesses. During an October interview with The Des Moines Register she recounted the story of a little girl that inspired her. She said that a young 5-year-old girl, who had been born without an eye or nose had tapped her on the leg and asked for a hug from Wonder Woman, Autumn instantly complied.
“She asked me if I thought she was ugly because her face was deformed,” Autumn recalled. “I said, ‘No! You are not ugly!’ ”
Their encounter soon became one of mutual inspiration.
Weaver-Nigro and the girl talked about “Star Trek,” one of Autumn’s favorite shows. Autumn told her about all kinds of different people on that show who look different, and some are worshiped like queens.
The girl smiled. She asked Weaver-Nigro if she could be a princess.
“No,” Autumn told the girl. “You are a princess. The end.”
The girl asked Weaver-Nigro if she was a princess or a queen. Autumn said she was not. And the girl said that she should become one.
Autumn took the girl’s advice to heart and earned herself not one, but two crowns. In March 2014, she became Miss Iowa in the National Miss American Coed Pageant, and in July of the same year, she was crowned as queen of the Italian-American Heritage Festival of Iowa.
This is a cosplayer to be proud of.Next time someone mocks your hobby because you collect comics or cosplay ignore them because they are obviously more insecure than you. Superheroes, comics and cosplay are all great hobbies full of great people that inspire each other.
Ms. Autumn Weaver-Nigro is just one example of a true Superhero.