It’s true: everyone CAN cosplay. It doesn’t matter your age, race, looks, height, weight, or language. If you want to cosplay, you can do it! I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, but with the increase in online bullying and trolls who love only to make others suffer through demeaning comments or put-downs, it’s become increasingly more difficult to find people who even want to try.
I’ve put out a challenge to those who only have negative things to say regarding my cosplay or the cosplay of those I care about: if you want it done right, then do it yourself! Most of the people who say such terrible things don’t even bother to prove themselves right by trying to do what we geeks, nerds, and creative, hands-on crafters have done. The negative words always seem empty.
Now in the rare case that someone dislikes something enough to try to recreate it themselves, then I say “good for you”! You’ve not only stuck by your comments on how something should look, but you’ve also done it yourself, and now the community can understand how that one part of that cosplay isn’t impossible to replicate anymore. It’s a step in the right direction—the positive direction—because now that person who was maybe once viewed as a bully can now be seen as someone who simply loves that character and wants only to see them brought to perfection on a living, breathing human.
Racism In Cosplay
In more recent events, a more established cosplayer left racist comments on a person of colors’ cosplay photo. This all started when the person of color got excited to see her favorite character being cosplayed by the established cosplayer, and left her own cosplay work in a positive comment. The established cosplayer then told this person of color that she had no right to cosplay this character because the character has pale skin and the cosplayer did not. She used slurs, and derogatory comments to bring the excited cosplayer down and soon the exchange was all over social media.
Racism is NOT okay. It’s not okay on a daily basis, let alone in the cosplay community. And we shouldn’t have to tolerate it. Many people flocked to the established cosplayers’ page and called out her racist and toxic behavior. Many people also went to the pages of the cosplayer who had been torn down and did their best to lift her spirits back up. A lot of people started to chime in, using hashtags of #BlackCosplayerHere and #CosplayAnyway to show their support or to further support people of color, or people who have been shamed for enjoying cosplay.
It was all very eye-opening to many cosplayers to realize that our community can come together and stand strong with those who may be unable to stand strong for themselves. It also allowed for some people to come forward and call out others who have been toxic within the cosplay community for far too long. It was a really big movement, but it was important and it was needed.
For many, cosplay is an escape from the struggles of daily life. It becomes more than “just a hobby” and becomes a healthy way to deal with issues or to deal with stress. Racism and toxic behavior is definitely something we don’t need in this community and it should never be tolerated. Feel free to call out those who leave degrading, racist, or horrible remarks on our fellow cosplayers’ posts. If we don’t start standing up with love and determination for a better community now, we’ll never get away from it from within our hobby to our everyday lives. It’s okay to make a stand when you know something is morally wrong.
Take a look through the #BlackCosplayerHere or #CosplayAnyway tags on social media and you’ll be amazed at all the beautiful and talented cosplayers who are tired of being bullied for the color of their skin, or for their weight, looks, disabilities, sexual preference, etc. Cosplay is for everyone! If anything, we as cosplayers all share the love of dressing up, getting creative and transforming yourself into a character you love. It always comes down to love, so let’s make cosplay a safe, loving environment for everyone who wants to cosplay, or has cosplayed before.
This week, another cosplayer took to Instagram where she shamed those who cosplay characters lewd or nude. No one can tell you how to cosplay, and no one can tell you what is or isn’t appropriate. Personally, as long as the character and cosplayer isn’t underage, I see no issue with lewd or nude photo shoots for cosplay. Someone else may have different ideas or limits as to what they appreciate with cosplay and various levels of nudity, and that’s okay! Just remember to be respectful of others. Cosplay is an art, and like art, it comes in many forms. It’s something anyone can try as long as they feel comfortable with it.
Let’s Talk Halloween
Halloween, in the United States, is one night a year that truly anyone can dress up and become someone or something other than themselves. I’ve seen everything from animals to pumpkins to horror movie stars to fables retold for this one evening of fun. It doesn’t matter who you are underneath the costume. Everyone accepts that this one night a year anyone can become who or what they want. No one tells you that you can’t be a pirate. No one makes rude comments when you strut your stuff dressed as a wolf. It’s simply one night that everyone accepts how others dress.
Cosplay is similar to this, but certainly isn’t the same. Halloween takes broad topics and makes them wearable for an evening or two (faeries, super heroes, villains, etc.) whereas cosplay takes a very specific character or series and has people (and sometimes animals) recreate themselves to closely resemble the characters as much as possible. Here is where I think the negativity starts: When you take something broad—ninjas for example—and want to be one for Halloween you have many, many options of pre-made costumes that you can buy, or you can toss something together from your closet that resembles what the word “ninja” means to you. But if you decide the ninja you want to dress as is Naruto, then people who are familiar with Naruto won’t necessarily accept you as the character unless you look as accurate as possible.
That Cosplay Feeling
But if I’m saying that anyone can cosplay, then does that mean that everyone must cosplay as accurately as possible, or spend lots of money on a cosplay that looks as close to perfection as possible? No. That would be silly and would probably tear this community apart. The community of cosplay is founded around the thought that this hobby is fun. Yes, it is hard work. Yes, it is time-consuming. Yes, it can be tedious and people may not understand why we do it. But in the end, cosplay is fun. It’s an amazing experience. You learn from it, picking up tips and tricks as you go along. Things that may have seemed so confusing or hard to translate from an image onto your own body slowly become easier to understand and quicker to do. The time you put in seriously shows in the end result. And when you wear that cosplay—when you finally have on all the pieces and see it all come together—that is one of the best feelings in the world. You feel more confident. You feel more loved. You feel accepted. You feel on top of the world. And this is why everyone can cosplay. This feeling isn’t meant for the “elite” or “veterans” of this hobby. This feeling is meant for everyone to experience.
So if you want to cosplay, please go for it. Do your best and show the world your love for a series or a particular character. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. It simply has to be something that makes you proud to wear it, something that you feel comfortable and confident in. So I’ll say it again: it doesn’t matter your age, race, looks, height, weight, or language, if you want to cosplay you can do it!
Has your cosplay made you feel confident? Show me what you’ve got on Twitter @geekgalsco!
Featured image credit: UBISOFT