I’m not going to talk about body shaming, harassment, Cosplayers not buying things at conventions, I’m not going to talk about racism or difficulties buying bias tape. Though these are all real problems faced by the community, and influence what I am talking about. that’s not what i’m going to focus on. What I want to talk about are the deeper problems facing cosplay. The ones that influence the community in ways people don’t seem to realize.
Where does the harassment, body shaming and elitism come from and how can we change it. It comes from the fear that Cosplay is changing and evolving. As it becomes more mainstream it’s becoming less and less of a special club and that scares people. It also comes from the large population of people who are attending conventions for the first time and don’t understand what it is.
Now for many it’s all about competition, becoming a pro, or making money from it. That’s all you seem to here about in mainstream media. This is happening because those who have been doing it for a long time have realized that they bring value to a convention and the characters they cosplay. they work hard to be who and what they are and express themselves and should be reimbursed from it. But in an attempt to maintain their value and make a living, a certain amount of hostility has arisen. Cosplayers should be scared because many don’t understand that there are certain economic factors that influence cosplay and they aren’t good. I will get into that deeper in another article.
Even I feel afraid sometimes and I have been Cosplaying for 7 years and sewing costumes since i was a child. I was learning elvish and LARPing before I knew that term and I don’t even feel like I can participate any more. When I started it didn’t matter who I was or how long I had been doing it, it didn’t matter what kind of nerd I was there was no labels or levels. It was just good wholesome fun. This has changed and to a certain degree we have to accept it. as a community we need to embrace it, Fighting change never helps but evolving with it is crucial.
As more people become aware of the power cosplay yields in our world it should be expected that more will try and emulate those that came before. Leading to hire competition and saturation of the market. Weather you know it or not Cosplay is a new industry and it is hear to stay.
This new industry is built on a back bone of micro pockets of fans that have exploded in size over the last ten years. disjointed and scattered clusters of nerds around the world. Created thanks to the internet and made up of a world of misfits. cosplay itself lacks a core value system, a way to unify all the pieces.
Not to mention the growth of pop culture conventions bringing all kinds of Cosplayers together under one roof. Things that use to be separated the lines are being blurred and when that happens there is always a certain amount of backlash.
There’s this underlying feeling that people don’t want cosplay to change and evolve they don’t like the fact that other people are moving in on something that was once their unique thing. Cosplay isn’t about that or at least it was never about that for me. For me it was about doing something fun, creating for people i loved and expressing myself. I think everyone deserves to be treated the same and allowed to express themselves.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that cosplay is disjointed and scattered with all ages, types and genres of costuming. The atmosphere of cosplay is directly linked to the social influences around it. For many it takes the issues of society and magnifies them such as sexism, race, misrepresentation and escapism as a form of coping. bringing them to life so they can stare you in the face. While at the same time celebrating everything that is great about imagination and creativity. It is the ultimate form of storytelling were you not only hear the story you feel it. The community it self is in desperate need of unification and understanding, a realization that all are welcome, all are valuable and yes really good Cosplayers should be remembered for what they do.
Cosplay is changing embrace it, participate in it, and most of all have fun.