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.
Time to talk about beginnings, or rather middles, because going back to the beginning of my cosplay would take you all the way back to childhood halloweens, and my high school halloween dance cardboard and tinfoil armor suit. As much as those are fond memories, I think it best to go to the start of my adult cosplay and convention going.
This is me, in my daughters booth at the Calgary Expo in 2014 putting her/my No-Face costume. It was my first convention, and boy was I in for a great time.
I wandered around, scaring people because I had a cable that lifted the face into a mouth when I offered people gold (werther’s) and when they looked up from the gold all they saw was a great big mouth.
The reactions were priceless, and I hope I remember some of those faces until the day I shuffle off this mortal coil.
This event really opened my eyes, on just how wonderful the cosplay community can be. As the center of attention, (Note: do not put on a flashy or attention drawing costume if you want to move quickly, the picture takers are happily everywhere), I was treated to an incredibly affirming experience. Comments about the costume, and how good it was, and excitement in people at seeing a favored set of characters. (My son and his girlfriend were Sen and Haku).
But what really struck me, as sometimes I would simply stand and pretend to be part of the shops display, or a mannequin next to a booth, was observing how those attending would treat each other. Complements on costumes were more about the effort and recognition of characters, than the accuracy or quality. Polite requests for photographs, and people dodging around the picture takers to make room so they don’t spoil the shot. The way any character would pose, or make the moment the best they could for those strangers taking their pictures. And on one or two occasions when I just had to get somewhere quickly, were gracious when I was forced to decline another photograph.
After that year was the twisted Alice and Wonderland (where Ax Rabbit came from and when we finally convinced my wife to join in the fun, and totally did not fit with the abmiance of the Once Upon a Time group in this picture) , and on the 50th Anniversary, the 60’s Adam West Batman, may he rest in peace. I even tried to do another No-Face this year, but walked it into a parking sign on the way to the event and ruined it before the fun even started.
So I now find myself on new cosplay journey, helping my daughter once again. I was technically helping with the No-Face, as it was a promotional costume we auctioned off during the show at her booth. Really though I got way more out of that experience than what it eventually sold for, and I am VERY sorry I did not get the top bid, but it just didn’t seem fair if I won.
Now the boring bits about me. I’ve been a software guy for as long as I can remember, starting my programming on an Atari 800Xl with a cassette tape storage. Been doing programming ever since, including company websites and at least one online games of some note. (I may do a blog about that if it’s ever appropriate, it had pirates.) I am now working for a Company that builds flight planning software.
So naturally I am here to help with the website, and whatever else this old boy has learned over the years after starting several software focused companies.
I look forward to writing more blogs, a bit of a first for me, and connecting with all the folks that come to this site. I’m one very introverted person, and you can’t imagine the apprehension of putting on the Adam West tights when I’m 60LB overweight. Funny thing was about that, I only heard one negative comment about my weight in that costume the entire weekend, from a guy on the C-Train platform that was obviously not going to the convention. At the convention itself, I had nothing but acceptance. In my experience, people seem to follow Wheatons Law when they are there.
I better end this. I think I have gone well into the tldr; range, but hey, I’m new at this so please be kind.