Love All Cosplayers

Tolerance, Love, Freedom, Laughter, Creativity

Tango for Two: Controversy with Cosplay Idols

I am seeing more and more hate directed towards cosplay “idols” or cosplayers who are popular through the scene. I can’t help but feel that sometimes this hate is directed towards a large number of cosplay “idols” who do not deserve the anger.
There are a lot of reasons I have seen people say for being upset with cosplay “idols”. Many of these include “self-righteous tendencies”, “entitlement”, “back stabbing”, “business-attitudes”, “egocentric attitudes”, and so on and so forth. The list continues on and on for a long while.
My thesis’s topic was on the division of the cosplay community based on hobby vs business, and how the line between these two groups grows larger and larger based on stereotypes and the breaking of cosplay culture norms. The initial cosplay culture was a bunch of people out to have fun in costume with a bunch of friends, but quickly this has been developing and opening other doors for people to find business in the hobby. I see the argument that “cosplay is a hobby, not a business!”, but nowadays that is not necessarily true. We see musicians make money from their hobbies and artists and actors and welders….so how is cosplaying not a great way to turn something you love into something more? To do for a living?
There are people who argue that there is no such thing as a “professional cosplayer”, only a model or seamstress, etc. But…let’s look at cosplaying as a whole: Cosplaying encompasses modeling, acting, sewing, wig and hair styling, makeup art, prop making, armour building, welding, wood working, script writing, photography, digital image editing, special fx makeup, and so much more. How is it fair to say that a cosplayer can only be a title this or title that? That is a lot of titles if they do more than just model or more than just sewing or wig styling. The term “Cosplayer” can be referenced to a person who does more than just one or two of these things. And sure, “professional” can be considered a self-entitlement but if you think about it…these cosplayers have done a lot to get the title they have. It is not easy to gain thousands of followers or get a name in the cosplaying business. Yes, I say BUSINESS, because whether you decide to take your hobby to another level or not does not mean that others have not.
I am now going to say this: there are cosplayers out there (famous and not famous) who ridicule other cosplayers or put down others. I see a lot of cosplayers who are not thousands of fans famous put down idol cosplayers. WHY!? Honestly. Look at yourselves and look at the posts you make about cosplay idols. You get angry for them putting you down but at the same time you are putting them down. Sure there may be those out there who act all high and mighty and it IS disgusting. But you also have simple fellows who do the same thing.
It is not the cosplay idols alone who are spreading hate in the cosplay community, but it is also those of us who put them down.
You have every right to be angry if another cosplayer is rude to you, rude to their fans, puts you or their fans down, acts better than everyone else, etc….but by blatantly displaying anger in a manner that is a form of bullying in a way, it perpetuates a growing problem that our community faces.
This post is not here to call anyone specific out, but BOTH groups are guilty. As a good friend of mine put it, “Both sides are firing shots. WE should judge people not based on their status or how they cosplay but how they act as human beings.” I would like everyone here to stop and think about what is going on with the cosplay community. We love pointing fingers. It’s human to do so. However we also should analyze what finger pointing does. We blame television depictions of our wonderful community for slandering what “cosplay is all about”. We blame idols for misrepresenting the community even though everyone is different and everyone has their own tastes and styles and personalities. We blame hobbists for holding back the community from the greatness it can become. Well let me tell you something….We are already great. We are unique and fun and open-minded and creative.

We want to work on fixing some of the issues our community has, but we must look at the community as a whole rather than seeing a specific group of people. Cosplay idols can just as easily point to hobbyists and say that “well they are telling me I am an attention whore because I show a lot of cleavage in my costumes”. In a way, this is kind of mean because who are we to judge what another cosplayer decides to wear?

Yes, the cosplay community is drastically changing, but it is up to US to make the changes a good one. I see so many wonderful cosplayers on a daily basis whether it be online or in person. Everyone has so much wonderful potential and I love seeing each and every one of you I get to know grow. It is sad that there is so much hate going around everywhere. Idols acting high and mighty and lacking a nice dose of “humility” and hobbyists who get angry and lash out at those who attack them.

Regardless at how the community is dividing (hobby vs business), we can still be united and appreciate and accept one another.

🙂 We ARE good people. We ARE a great community of accepting people. Some of us could stand to be more humble or more outgoing or more polite or bold. We are a community of PEOPLE, and there are many different kinds of people. 🙂 Let’s try to understand that no two of us will be exactly alike, and no one will have all of the same beliefs or views.

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Real Cosplayer?

I want to talk a little bit about the cosplay community and representation. While I think that cosplay idols are not a bad thing, I feel that the majority of the cosplay community is either misrepresented or invisible. You see mostly on sites that are for “cosplayers” pictures of idols or pictures that have been photoshopped and taken professionally in a paid photoshoot. We do not often see cosplay sites represent cosplayers who are not as well known or do not have professional photos. To me, this is a bit of a lie because most of us cosplayers come from this invisible or ignored portion. Cosplay.com focuses a great amount of effort in their showcase to cosplayers who do have amazing costumes, but spent a lot of time photoshopping and/or have had a professional shoot. Not everyone can afford a professional shoot or do not have the resources or connections to have a professional shoot done for free. So, despite having amazing costumes, these others are tossed aside in favor of the cosplay idols.
Idols get more recognition while the rest end up having little recognition for their work.
Bottom line is, everyone should be recognized for the work that they do. Creating costumes is hard. It takes a lot of time and patience. Even commissioning costumes is difficult because you are still left with design and characterization. You still have to wear that costume and show it off.
What is a “real” cosplayer? Cosplayers are cosplayers regardless and honestly I have a distaste for the argument of “a real cosplayer does …..” No. Sorry.  A real cosplayer does not make their own costume or buy their costume. A real cosplayer does not refrain from selling prints or sell prints. A real cosplayer is not a model or is a model. A real cosplayer does not put down others who creates something differently. A real cosplayer is a person enjoying what they do and loving the costuming hobby whether for fun or for business.  So what if he/she bought their costume? They still rock it! So what if he/she is making money from something they love? Musicians and Actors do it too! Let us not judge others in our community (or out of our community! ~_^)
Cosplay is not just anime/manga, Japanese video games, comic books, other games, etc etc…It is a particular and creative form of costumery. I see things on my facebook feed about how cosplay has changed from just being anime and manga to being comic book characters, and I also see how some argue that comic book costumes are not real cosplay because cosplay is Japanese culture based. I think this is an unfair assessment because what the hell is cosplay exactly? A high and creative form of costuming. That’s it. There is no dictionary definition of what cosplay is becuase it is individual. Sure, cosplay is an important sub-culture in pop-culture Japan, but that does not mean it is Universal in meaning.
So when you see pictures of cosplayers in professional shoots or pictures of cosplayers showing off their costumes outside of professional shoots, let us admire all of them.

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Cosplay, Sexuality and Harassment Part 1

Today I want to talk a little bit about cosplay, sexuality and bullying. I am going to use some anthropological definitions of terms to hep clarify specific topics in this entry. First, I want to say that I want to talk about some of the important aspects in the cosplay community that are for some reason often debated about on my facebook feed or at conventions. There are a lot of arguments and put-downing that I see in the community and I would like to point some of these out and give my own two cents. Some of it may sound contradictory, but I express my opinions as well as opposition to my opinions (and understanding the other story). My job is to challenge mainstream-cultures and people who bully anyone who opposes their views. This blog intends on trying to stimulate question and debate about what is right and wrong and who are we to tell others what is right and wrong?

We should accept everyone regardless of the colour of their skin, the size and shape of their body, religious background, heritage, class, childhood upbringing, sex, gender, blood type, zodiac, age, etc etc and understand that everyone is part of the same world. No two cosplayers think alike, look alike or craft alike! 

Sexuality is important in cosplay because it defines and marks relationships between people, cultures, sex and gender lines. When I comment on posts or discussions about gender and cosplay I often see the question, “isn’t sex and gender the same thing?” The answer is NO. They are not the same. Sex is defined by biological parts and functions while gender is the socialized behaviors and roles that are expected culturally of the sexes. For example, you can be male but identify as a woman. You can be female but identify as a man. To be male or female refers to reproductive organs. I am not talking about sex changes and I do not intend to get into that in this entry. This is merely about clarification of these terms because there are a lot of debates that get confusing due to the interchanging of these terms. A normal person interchanges male-man/boy and female-woman/girl and it is confusing for those of us who use the terms as they should be used. American culture in general demonizes sex and sex-parts and makes them a taboo, a shame that must be hidden and not spoken about. American culture also expresses insistence in the “two and only two” rule that there can only be a male and a female and nothing in between or other. This IS changing, but there are still too many who oppose anything other than the “social norm”.   I am not saying that ALL Americans are this way or think this way (that is ludicrous!), I am speaking of cultural norms and expectations from the mainstream-conservative culture.

Sexuality and cosplay involves a whole selection of things: body-exposure, relationships, fan-service, crossplay and cosplay in general. How people stereotype and sexualize cosplayers is a serious issue in our community.

Sexualizing cosplayers is a common thing. Men may sexualize female cosplayers by oogling them in “sexy” costumes or in characters that wear clothing that reveals a lot of skin (like Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2 or a comic book female with a large bust). Women may sexualize male cosplayers by oogling muscles and butt and abs and facial structure and other parts that may be seen depending on the costume worn. People complain and often try to stand up against sexualizing and objectifying, but it is a difficult task to do. A lot of people do this without even realizing it is being done, or they do it because they do not see a problem with it. To them, it is okay to think about cosplayers in a sexual manner.

I am not condoning this, and I am strongly against sexualization and objectification of cosplayers, but I also understand that though I may be against it, some people are actually okay with this. It brings business and increases fan base (and also a fair amount of creepers that these folk have to deal with), but some of these cosplayers also feel better about themselves and their body image. It is nice to be complimented on how you look, no matter what.

Unfortunately, sexualization and objectification does cause a perpetuating stereotype and vicious cycle of sexism and other ‘isms’ and as a community I feel that we can take steps to help eliminate or oppress the negative connotations that come with sexualization of people.

Admiring the craftmanship and the model is a good thing, but there is a thing as taking it too far. While it is okay to compliment, it is not okay to cat call or whistle or touch. COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT. Remember this. Preach it. Act it. COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT NOR WILL IT EVER BE. I love this movement in the community. It blatantly says to others that it is not okay to act on your fantasies or think that you can force your fantasies on men or women in costume. I mean a few things by this.

1). You may think something all you like, but that doesn’t mean you can make your sexual fantasies come true just because he/she is in costume.

2). Keep your thoughts to yourself. Cosplayers do not want to hear about what you want to do with them when they are alone with you, no matter how ‘sexy, hawt, or attractive’ they are dressed. It is creepy, gross and disrespectful.

3). Clothing style not a reason. I hear from people “she asked for it cause of how she was dressed” or “she dresses like she wants something” or “he looks primed and ready to go”. These are horrible thoughts to have and absolutely disgusting. COSPLAY AND WARDROBE ARE NOT CONSENT.

4). Short skirts are no excuse for panty shots. The cosplayer has the right to do whatever they want in their photoshoot, but you can’t go and have a photoshoot of your own without their knowledge or without their permission. Also, it is considered rude to ask a girl for a panty shot. And creepy. (Or guy for that matter!)

5). Keep your hands to yourself. Do not touch the cosplayer without permission! The costume and the cosplayer are at risk when you go about doing this. That costume has to withstand being worn and used and you touching it won’t help it. That cosplayer has the right to defend themselves and not be disrespected. So you lose your hand, its on you.

Among many other points, which I encourage you all to add and discuss!

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Something else I want to talk about is ‘he/she’.

By this, I mean the idea that just because someone crossplays, does not mean they identify as LGBT or Other. It also does not mean that they DON’T. Be respectful . If you do not believe in crossplaying, then don’t do it. This does not give you the right to tell others or ridicule others who do crossplay. Crossplay is another form of art, and is just a branch of cosplay. Regardless if you are a cosplayer or not, you should still be respectful of other people.

I have a lot of friends who identify as LGBT or Other, and they are all great people. They are no less than people. Their sexuality does not define them. Cosplay is something for all people to be part of and should feel part of. It is a community; a sub-culture part of a larger mainstream culture.

Do not assume that a crossplayer is only into members of the same sex either.
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My third thing is sexy cosplayers. Honestly, who cares if there are cosplayers who do sexy costumes or sexy renditions of costumes for attention? We give them degrading names such as “attention whores”. That’s terrible. From what I know, if you are in costume, you want attention and you should expect attention because it is a costume and not something worn everyday or in normal lifestye. What does it matter the type of costume? When you put down others, it is a form of bullying.

I hear a lot of buff about Yaya Han and Jessica Nigiri for their “sexy cosplay attention whoring” and I think to myself, “what?!’. They are in a business, so obviously attention is a good thing for them. Just because they wear or choose the types of costumes that they do does not mean that they think of themselves poorly, are degrading themselves, are desperate for attention, etc. These two girls have excellent craftmanship.

By using these degrading names, it is you who are degrading them and putting these cosplayers down just because you do not agree with their style. Everyone is different, everyone conceptualizes people differently and everyone has their own idea of moral and right and wrong. It is not our job to put these ideas on others and expect them to follow you.
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Instead, I would like to challenge cosplayers and non-cosplayers to try and think outside of their own little boxes and instead of disagreeing, being empathic. 🙂 Cosplay community is full of people of all shades, sizes, cultures, religious backgrounds, etc etc etc. You do not agree with something, just let it go and keep it to yourself. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, own way of life and should be respected for it.

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