Animezing! A glimpse into the wonderful world of cosplay.
Cosplay, short for ‘costume-play’ is an art during which people (called cosplayers) wear costumes to represent a specific character. Many cosplayers attend conventions where they can meet and socialise with people who share similar interests.
At these conventions many events occur, such as contents, often called ‘cosplay masquerades’. There are many conventions around the world, some of them are dedicated to things such as sci-fi, anime and manga, TV Shows and film, but most conventions are general, such as any of the MCM events or Yorkshire Cosplay Con which is a convention aimed at a large audience with a wide variety of interests. Where else could you go and see Sailor Moon and the 10th Doctor dancing to the ‘Time Warp’? For many cosplayers, cosplay is an escape from the everyday worries of life and is a way that they can boost their confidence.
Cosplaying is everywhere. If you’re a fan of Rocky Horror then you will no doubt know that attendees go in costume akin to their favourite characters. Some people make their own cosplays whilst others prefer to buy them. Some franchises sell official costumes, whilst some have them tailor made.
Unfortunately, like in most communities, the cosplay community does have its bullies. Bullies who often ridicule cosplayers by calling their outfits ‘generic’ and overdone’. Thankfully, people like these are minority. These bullies often ridicule cosplayers for being ‘too fat’ for the character they cosplay as.
Characters often have very thin body shapes, which not everybody in real life has. I asked 76 people, if they believed that Disney Princesses were too skinny and scarily 100% of them said yes. It’s frightening to think that young people see these characters as role models and aspire to be like them, potentially putting their life in danger to achieve that perfect princess figure. When Disney’s 2015 movie ‘Cinderella’ was released, there was a large negative uproar stating the actress’s waist was ‘too small and non-existent’.
Some cosplayers, are ‘ambassadors’ and strive to raise awareness of bullying in the cosplay community. Perhaps the most well-known is Misa on Wheels. Misa on Wheel’s is a well-known cosplayer who uses social media to raise awareness that ‘everybody can cosplay’ and that ‘Cosplay isn’t about looking like a Victoria’s Secret model’.
Some cosplayers are criticised harshly for being the character that they want to be, sometimes being called ‘unimaginative’ and ‘a generic character’. Of course, this is not true as cosplaying is an art and people have the right to be who the want. Several anti-bullying cosplay charities have been set up due to cosplayers being bullied by people inside and outside of the community. One of the most known charities in the UK is iCosplay. If a cosplayer is being bullied or feels intimidated at a con then they should speak to a member of staff or security. Cons are intended to be happy, safe places where fans can meet people with similar interests.
One of the biggest cons in the world ‘New York Comic Con’ has a slogan that is very much known around the world, ‘cosplay is NOT consent ’meaning that all attendees should ask before taking photos with each other and respect a person’s right to say no. They also insist that guests be ‘respectful, be nice, cool and kind to each other’. Many other conventions have also adopted this slogan as a rule that all attendees must follow.
Unfortunately, in this day and age more people are taking to hiding behind a computer screen. Some people find joy in making blogs on social media such as Tumblr dedicated to showcasing ‘cosplay fails’. As one anti-bullying cosplay blog puts it, “Being a good cosplayer is not about being a good costume maker, it’s about being a good person.” The blog, dedicated to anti-bullying in the community can be found here: cosplayers-against-bullying.tumblr.com/
Unfortunately, it’s not just verbal abuse. Cosplayers can suffer from harassment, perhaps due to costumes that are revealing. People should not be made to feel uncomfortable when wearing a costume.
Yes, everybody has a right to have feelings to a cosplay. If you don’t like a person’s Light Yagami cosplay, that’s fine. Keep it to yourself. We don’t need to know. Bullying is a problem that needs to STOP and needs to stop NOW. STOP telling people they can’t cosplay as a character of a different gender, ethnicity, build or race to them. Does them having fun upset you? Do you feel like a big person when you bully them? If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it! People cosplay for FUN. How can they have fun if they are being bombarded with insults of people ‘hating’ them? If you are being bullied for cosplaying, don’t give it up! Keep cosplaying for you, and not what other people think. People often say disrespectful things in order to gain a reaction, but if we as a community ignore it and move on, then they will quickly grow bored and move on. Many cosplayers may seem downhearted if they get bullied, but then see it as an opportunity to motivate themselves to keep going, and share their experiences with bullies online so that others can be made aware and feel as if they are not alone.
As an avid cosplayer myself, my advice is to keep your head held high and to take any hater’s comments with pride. You cosplay because you enjoy it; don’t give it because others see it as an opportunity to make fun of you. Instead keep smiling and cosplayimg! Go to cons and meet like-minded people. You’ll make hundreds of new friends who will stick with you forever whilst providing a fun and unique experience! Remember, no two cons are ever the same!
Report by Jazmin, BBC School Report and cosplayer.
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