For the past 10 years, I have been apart of the cosplay community. I have seen it grow so much since 2008. I’ve seen so many faces of it from the light-hearted friendly side to the dark and toxic side of cosplay. Throughout the years I have been an advocate for cosplay positivity, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned what cosplay positivity is all about.
It isn’t just to spread the love for all cosplayers who aren’t famous. It’s also about not singling others out of the community. No matter how people cosplay it’s how they want to cosplay. If they want to take pics of their self in boudoir as a character they can. If they want to cosplay regular characters they can. If they want to cosplay a female or male version of a character, then do it! It shouldn’t matter what race, body type, or sexuality. All cosplay should be accepted.
Throughout the years I have been on both sides of hate admittedly. I have been the bully and the hated. I thought that sexy cosplays weren’t okay, and I wouldn’t say anything when my friends were bashing that part of the community. Of course, I agreed with them. I also felt like there was something more to this situation. I started to feel guilty. I had fought for cosplay positivity, but it wasn’t the right way. My friends would slut sham those cosplayers, and one I started to notice was the butt jokes of them all.
I don’t plan on mentioning names in this article for safety reasons. This person they were bashing I started to do research on them. I found their YouTube. I could tell from her videos she was funny, and she would open mail from her fans and accept pieces of cosplays that others have made for her. She would build her own cosplays and show how she did it in case someone wanted to try themselves. This woman, that my friends had bashed for months was this amazing person who cared deeply about her craft and the people who support her. Even if she did sexy cosplays she was this awesome person. That’s when I realized I was doing the one thing that I hated most from what anyone that was toxic in the cosplay community has done to me. I was singling this person not because I was jealous because she cosplayed differently from the rest of the community. From that moment on I accepted what I had done and decided to turn my mentality about the community around and accept everyone. Everyone can cosplay.
Of course, after I did this I stopped hanging out with those people and continued working on myself and surround myself with positive things about this side of the community. I accepted that it was awesome to embrace the sexy side of cosplay and to embrace other sides of the community in a positive light. Never single anyone out.
As being on the other side I have been told that I don’t look the part or that me cosplaying gender bent cosplays were offensive. Hell, I’ve been told that I wasn’t supposed to be part of a panel anymore all because a person in their group was offended by my very existence. I have been singled out before and I know what it feels like. It feels like being slapped in the face and it’s not fun.
I learned that just because you put someone down for having a nice cosplay body doesn’t make you better than them. It makes you weaker. It makes you become the very thing you dislike most and makes the community more toxic. Before you go out and judge someone for cosplaying think to yourself if it is negative and is it toxic. Being critical is fine because we can all improve but being hateful is not something that is needed.
I only wish we could go back to the days before the community had politics involved. When acceptance was alive and well and we could just be fun and goofy without being judged or judgmental towards others. Having fun with our craft and learning about our craft. When you go to the next con and you find that it’s someone’s first time be accepting. Lend a helping hand out because that as a community is what we are all about. Helping others and being accepting.