This post was supposed to be a well thought out essay with points from each side, but my research took me in a different direction. So today's post is a rant on all cosplay haters and a tribute to all the die-hards plus a little bit on everything in between. Please note that this post is based on personal opinions and everything voiced below is of my own thoughts and is not meant to offend anyone. K thx. Enjoy the read!
Body shaming was something I was made aware of the instant I became aware of cosplay. I was told it’s part of ‘what to expect’. It’s one of the reasons I balked at the very idea of putting on a costume at conventions.
- Shoshana Kessock
Body shaming is a huge deterrent for people looking to start cosplaying. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinions, but if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Keep your disgusting, mean thoughts to yourself. Saying that bad cosplay will make you hate the anime is crazy. If you don't like what you see, look away. That person is a fan and is showing thier own appreciation.
Saying someone can't cosplay an anime character unless it's "good" is a form of bullying and body shaming. Body shaming is ridiculous. What do people get out of putting someone else down? I have never understood bullying in my entire life, even being on the receiving end through my youth. And I'm sure I never will, so I'm not here to turn the tables and dish it back, but it is hurtful and rude. These are some captions from a cosplay hating tumblr blog;
These costumes would look better on somebody a little less ugly. Next please.
Rinoa, from Final Fantasy VIII (oh good gods FUG ALERT! FUG ALERT!)
Not even pets are immune to bad cosplay. If these people really loved their pets they wouldn’t do this to them.
Cosplay shaming is rude and hurtful. What if I'm on a blog like that? How many people make fun of my cosplays? I have been cosplaying for less than a year. My skill level is new and I just hope I never have to find out if someone makes fun of me.
For some people, hateful comments is the make or break for them. Whether they stay in cosplay or completely quit. How sad is it, that someone would quit their art, their hobby, what makes them happy, just because someone said something hurtful?
At least on these hater sites there are people standing up for everyone's right to cosplay.
Cosplay is plain hobby. Everyone has their own hobbies so let's not bother other people's business okay?
I think it's incredible to witness what some folks can craft in their spare time!
I found a quote on instagram the other day by Misa on Wheels. It's very inspiring and a great way to end this section on a positive note and a segway into our next section.
- Brett (friend)
Okay, even I'll admit, sometimes I admire a cosplay solely on the cosplayers body. Take Jessica Nigri for example. After her amazing Deathwing cosplay debut, she posted a photo with the caption;
I worked so stupid hard on this damn costume and I feel like I have finally made something really worth being proud of.
And another one that said;
I AM NOT JUST ABOUT TITS ANYMORE GUYS I TOLD YOU I WOULD TRY!!!!
Even someone as sexy and famous as Jessica Nigri can worry about what others think of her, or if she is worthy of her follower's pride. I think a long time ago she got used to being known as 'the cosplayer with the huge tits' and accepted it, and even worked it into her personal brand. And it works for her. She's still a very down to earth person with a great personality and a positive influence on the cosplaying community.
When I asked the world 'What does cosplay mean to you?' some of the more pervy responses were;
Ummm. Not to come across as a perv but hot chicks look good dressed up.
- Chris (co-worker)
Idk pretty much just another way to gauk at gorgeous girls
- Cody (brother)
I'm not really sure if the only people who were 'honest' about their pervism is because they're relatively close to me and comfortable being honest, or that I am just close to perverted people...
While I was doing research for this rant/post, I came across an awesome blog post that asks the question; 'Has there been a negative impact on Cosplay as a whole, because of Sexually themed outfits?'
In my opinion, I internally war with this debate all the time. If I want to genderbend a character, is it just an excuse to make a cosplay sexy? I think the 'sexiness popularity' of the cosplay world puts a lot of pressure on people, especially today, with everything revolving around the internet. Everyone just wants that karma, or that extra like on their photo. This has no value in the real world, but people do anything for it.
Thor by Kc Rikku, Bobba Fett by LeeAnna Vamp
I think sexy cosplay is almost another form of body shaming to a degree. Sexy cosplay is all over the internet and accepted. It doesn't take much to discourage your average body type from cosplaying characters they want because someone else might look like they cosplay it better. On the other hand, if you feel confident and amazing in your sexy cosplay, that is OKAY too! Cosplay is for everyone in every form. Even through sexy cosplay, I encourage everyone to remember that cosplaying is for fun, to show your appreciation for your fandom. Please don't forget that.
To wrap up this section, I leave you with a few more points from the nerdargufy post;
Are you a piece of meat? Do you deserve respect? Is it OK that, that to many, your only purpose to them is to either be the object for masturbation or the basket of insults and laughs?
This might be my favorite section, because it's so positive, and so full of comments that really show how much fun cosplay can be. That people overcome fear with cosplay. People overcome bullying. People appreciate their bodies and fandoms equally. Cosplay is such a huge an amazing community. Once we block out the haters and disrespectful comments, it's a place to enjoy ourselves, and potentially be a different person for a day or a weekend.
When I asked the question 'what does cosplay mean to you?' I expected the die-hard comments, but I did NOT expect so many! I was overwhelmed with people saying 'cosplay is love, cosplay is life' in one way or another. And I wish I could share every single comment in this post, but that might be impractical. If I get enough requests, I could make a post purely with quotes of what cosplay means to everyone.
I want to start this section off with my own interpretation of cosplay.
Cosplay to me is more than just the costumes. Cosplay to me is about the community. It is the one art form that you can 'copy' other people's work and they will cheer you on. This is my favorite part - people don't hide their secrets. Everyone shares their progress openly and willingly. Cosplay is when you get to be someone else. You can feel confident and leave your problems and unhappiness behind you for a weekend. I've doubted myself a few times while making costumes, but then I put them on and I feel invincible. Cosplay is freedom, to me.
It's so unique and different compared to every other community or art form. It's special. Here's a few more comments I collected from amazing die-hard cosplay lovers;
Blastoise cosplay by @atom_cosplay
I spend months hand making my cosplays they're never truly finished you can always upgrade things or tinker with them. I love building cosplays as much as wearing them. I'm always happy when people recognise my hard work and want a picture or just to talk about how I made something. And I do the same to other cosplayers after people putting all the hours in to a costume I've never come across a grumpy cosplayer that didnt want a picture or to talk. I'm just happy there's cool people out there that think like me.
- @atom_cosplay (instagram)
Cosplay holds a double meaning for me. First, and most importantly, it's an art and craft. It is an avenue in which I can show off creativity and technique on a topic I am familiar with without many expectations and peers to enjoy it with. On that same note it is also something where I can appreciate the work of those same peers. Second, it's a hobby I can enjoy with little to no time pressure (except right before a con! Lol) with clearly defined goals. It's definitely my most relaxing hobby and provides me a chance to wind down when I could really use a change of pace.
- Bret (friend)
It gives me the ability to GO to cons. I love events. I don't like going because of crowds. I have really bad anxiety and it allows me to go as someone else and not feel the pressure and confinement I usually do
Cosplay means I get to spend time with my <best > friend. Cosplay means that for once I don't have to hide my love for anime and Japanese craziness. Cosplay is a culture, and for once it's a culture that (pretty much) accepts everyone. Cosplay means for the one event you can be whomever you want, however you want and never feel bad about anything because everyone else is doing the same thing: having fun, being creative, making friends and gushing over anime obsessions.
- Danielle (BFF)
Human Luna by @fairwindcosplay, photo by Moonie Revolution
Cosplay to me is another version of theatre: it's immersive, creative, and forces you to think on your feet and be in the moment, both during the construction process and while in cosplay! It's an amazing outlet for creativity and a great way for people to step out of themselves and become someone whom they admire.
- @fairwindcosplay (instagram)
That was so hard, picking only a handful of posts. Everyone had such unique opinions about it and has such a passion. I absolutely adore this community. Without sounding too repetitive and ranty in my rant, I just want to re-iterate this point. I think the quotes really speak for themselves in this section and I want to move along to the most personal section of this rant. Get ready for some #feels.
This is a hard and delicate section for me to write. I find that I need to choose my words carefully, yet still share my point of view based on these quotes. We'll start with an easy one.
It's a passion that people have for shows and games and stuff that goes beyond just watching or playing it.
- Riley (boyfriend)
This was the answer my boyfriend gave me the SECOND time I asked him. The first time I asked him, he said "costumes," which technically is an answer and correct, but as my boyfriend, I was honestly expecting something a little more heart felt. We've lived together for months and have known each other for years. He watches (and helps!) me make my costumes, and always tells me they look great.
From my perspective, for him to have a first hand experience of cosplay, and it still not have much of an impact on him was fairly shocking to me. Of course I still appreciate everything he does for me, it's just an eye opener that even if someone is close to me, they still might not share my enthusiasm. It was just another lesson in my life that I cosplay for ME.
Honestly when I first heard about cosplay I thought it was for nerds or geeks. And what it was, was them dressing up as cartoons and comic book characters and going to conventions like comiccon and animethon. It's not something I would ever do I don't see the point in it. However I have seen the hard work that goes into it and all the effort that is put into it. And some of the results are absolutely fantastic!
- Anonymous (BFF)
This was one I saw coming. From one of my best friends, who has witnessed my cosplay struggles, witnessed my cosplay triumphs and still supports ME, just not my ART, was still a hard pill to swallow. I am notorious for sucking my friends into the cosplay world with me, and even above mentioned friend finally broke down and said she would cosplay a significant character to her, but I think it might have been an empty promise, which I can accept. Besides, I cosplay for ME!
It means not a whole lot to me but it brings joy to my daughter. My daughter is passionate about this she puts lots of time effort and money into it and turns out a fantastic product.
- Rob (father)
After asking my dad in a text the same question I asked the world, his answer kinda made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I had asked my mom the same question, so when I was at their place for dinner one Sunday, Mom brought it up and was asking about my responses. She told me she was sitting right beside Dad when he got my text. She casually told me that he didn't know what to write about 'this cosplay thing' but I kept harassing him about it. So apparently she basically scripted something for him to write.
This is pretty heartbreaking for me. What child doesn't spend their freaking LIFE trying to impress their parents and make them proud? After a rebellious youth, and crushing all their dreams with my life choices, I was just really excited about actually making him proud, and then to later find out that it was just a way to shut me up? It hurts. But it fuels me. It's just another reminder that I cosplay for ME. I don't need to cosplay to impress anybody.
That was kind of a depressing section. Let's finish this rant strong!
We've covered nearly every opinion on cosplay. The last one I want to mention is the inspiration. The point of views that come from people who don't cosplay, but who find the art absolutely inspiring.
I actually have never heard of cosplay until I met you! I have no idea who the characters are, but when pictures are shown of the costume beside the character, you are simply amazing!! In all honesty, you give me inspiration on improving in my own hobbies!! Little details that make everything come together in the end.
- Crystal (co-worker)
I myself don't cosplay simply because of nerves and self confidence but I love the idea of leaving it all behind to be a character. I love making cosplay props and costumes but I like to be behind my camera more.
- @tw1tch3n (instagram)
Cosplay means showing who you really are through interpretation of the characters you cosplay as. All the cosplays I've ever wanted to do have been characters that have traits I admire or already have.
- Marco (friend)
I used to be afraid of the word. Like, "Ugh, that is way too damn nerdy. Don't they have lives?" Now... I'm embracing the life, no matter what others think. My hubs wants me to do something FMA. I want to cosplay a Sailor Scout/Adventure Time mashup. I'm dying to feel like my favorite characters.
- Leah (G+)
Clearly, cosplay holds a different meaning to everyone. And I respect everyone's opinions. This was a great project for me and it was eye opening to the opinions of my corner of the internet, and my closer influences such as family and friends. I hope this was informative to others reading this, or in the very least, interesting.
This is the longest post I've ever written, and I think that's mostly because I was ranting, but it's also because there are so many opinions on this community that keeps growing and changing. Below, are a few links to articles I found during my research that are definitely worth the read.
Are Cosplayers Ruining Cosplay?
Comic Book Artist Says Cosplayers Bring Nothing of Value to Conventions
Too Fat to Join the Fun: Body Shaming and Cosplay
Please comment below with your cosplay opinions, and what it means to you!