Wednesday, March 4, 2015

(Corrected) Realities of Cosplay

Recently an article has been passed around a few communities I'm in about the Harsh Realities of Cosplay and after reading it, I felt the need to respond because I don't want an article like this to stop people from cosplaying.  It's fun and it's an adventure and from professionals to closet and thrifter cosplayers alike, there's many different ways to enjoy yourself.

I've posted the original article below at the link and I'm rephrasing her 'realities' because I don't want to reinforce these incorrect and negative ideas.  The point of my article is letting people know that what she posted and detailed is not the only way to cosplay. You're welcome to read her article then read mine as a rebuttle and make your own decisions from there.

The original article can be found here.

(Corrected)Reality 1: You don't have to be pretty.

I'll say it right out, that yes, being attractive - like anything in life - can make cosplay easier.  But it is most certainly not an end all be all in this costumed hobby, honestly, just keep reading

The point of cosplay is to have fun dressing up as a character you like.  Costumes, makeup, props, fabric, materials, time, pose, lighting, setting and yes, body shape and face all figure into this equally.  A look through any set of convention photos will show you a large variety of body shapes, skin colors, sizes, ages and faces.  Human kind doesn't come in one shape and neither does cosplay.  Popular cosplayers don't just get attention because their pretty, there are also plenty who get attention because of craftmanship and technique, creativity and work they put into their costume and craft.  You don't have to be perfectly pretty and you don't have to be a perfect craftman to enjoy your cosplay.  You just have to be you and pick a costume you like and a character you enjoy.  The rest will follow. 

Added into this, and something I touched on in my last blog - your personal looks might not even matter to the people you run into at a convention. To some people, the fact that you dressed up as their favorite character can mean more than a thin waist, a sleek body or the right eye shape could ever mean.  The fact that you dressed up as their favorite character is important to fans and children and people.  Self-confidence and enjoying yourself and your costume will show to the people that it matters to.  They will love your costume and - more importantly - so will you.

(Corrected) Reality #2 - Everyone Has An Opinion

Everyone has an opinion and everyone will voice that opinion no matter what you do.  You can never please everyone and you don't have to.  You should never expect to please everyone, because honestly even the most 'perfect' of cosplayers can't even please their legion of followers and fans.  It doesn't take long to look up the names Yaya Han and Jessica Nigiri and find pages of hate and disgust, when these two are hailed as some of the most popular cosplayers out there.  I promise you this will repeat with everyone else in varying degrees.  This amount of opinion, good or bad, should not deter you from cosplaying.  Instead it should make one thing clear: their opinions don't matter.  Yours do.

Also keep in mind that conventions are fan/community run events and cosplay is a community thing.  If you see that an event is run badly to a point where it hurts other cosplayers, say something.  Submit a request (politely, they're more likely to listen that way) and suggest an alternative.  Do you not see a panel that includes Plus Sized cosplayers or minority members?  Run one yourself, or submit a request that one be included in the program next year.  While we can't change everyone's negative opinions that might pop up, we can counter them by creating a more inclusive community.  Be the person who is brave enough to create that group that you want to be a part of to encourage others.  Or, if you're not as outgoing, just smile and take a picture of that person who obviously put time into their costume.  You can counter the hate and horrible opinions out there.  In the end you might not be able to change their opinion, but you can be the alternative opinion that matters more.

(Corrected) Reality #3 - Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be.

Yes, you are cosplaying a 2D character who doesn't exist.  Yes, you are cosplaying a character a movie or TV show when a special effects budget and a legion of people behind it armed with computers and blending tools you can't even imagine.  Not even magazine pictures are real.  This is not a reason to stop or give up.  In the end, no matter how 'perfect' you are, you will never be 2D or that perfect movie replica and that's ok!!  You don't have to be perfect.  Instead you can be as perfect or imperfect as you want.

Are you in a wheelchair?  Is your body a different type?  Skin a different color?  Can't stand wigs because they make your head itch?  Can't afford that insane prop?  Want to portray that character you love as a different gender?  It's ok!  This doesn't mean you can't cosplay.  Actually, it gives you an asset.  Things like this give you the opportunity to be creative and branch out in new ways to portray the character.  Use this as an opportunity to rock what you have and who you are with pride.  You are the only person who can cosplay that character like you and that is something to be proud of.  You don't have to be perfect to cosplay, you just have to be yourself in that costume and have a good time.

(Corrected) Reality #4 - Cosplay IS for everyone

You dress up at Halloween, you run down the street for candy in a costume and for that moment you are Batman.  You are Superman.  You are Sailor Moon and you are a Ninja Turtle.  Cosplay is this, pure and simple.  You're wearing a costume and you're being a character and anyone can do this.  It doesn't matter if you're in a wheelchair, short, tall, white, black, missing a limb, Asian, or heck, if you want to dress up your pet dog as Groot!  It's a costume.  In the end that is all it is, a costume and the person behind it.  No one has a right to tell you that you can't do this.   Anyone can wear a costume and enjoy it, and yes, that means you.

And yes, I need to address the picture she used in her article.  Sailor Bubba, as he is known, is a fixture of Anime Central in Chicago and I've met him.  He was not a creepier and he was not a crazy older man in a sailor suit as the meme might imply.  Instead, he is a man who decided to have some fun, step up on stage and dress as Sailor Moon.  He decided to walk around the convention for several years, bring smiles to peoples' faces, have confidence in himself and just enjoy the convention weekend.  This isn't something to be made fun of, this is instead what cosplay is all about.

(Corrected) Reality #5 - You can cosplay on any budget

It is a wonderful dream to have endless money and ability to create that perfect cosplay.  In reality, this is not the case with most people, but that's why cosplay is so awesome.  You don't need endless amounts of money or skill to cosplay, instead you might just need to step back and tilt your head and think of another way.

I know plenty of people who hand sew, commission, and go to thrift stores for their cosplay.  This amazing Vash the Stampede I saw back when I first starting going to conventions?  He found all the parts by walking through isles at the Home Depot.  That amazing Final Fantasy 13 cosplayer with the staff that looks like it can't be lifted?  It's all cellophane and a couple well painted pieces of wood with some glue.  The point is, you can cosplay with any budget and any skill level.  There is nothing wrong with making your own clothes and props with years of blood sweat and tears, or buying that red shirt at Goodwill because it would be perfect!

The internet is your best tool here and I've used it many times for cosplay.  The greatest thing is that no matter what you want to cosplay, I can guarantee there's people out there who have tried something like that before, and a good number of them are willing to answer questions, share videos and even type up tutorials on how you can do it too.  Play around on Google and see what your options are.  If you only have a handful of dollar bills to use every month but you really want that elaborate costume, there are ways you can do it you may not have thought of.  Don't let money and skill hold you down, this hobby is only as expensive as you make it.

In conclusion:

I am not sugar coating any of this.  I am a plus sized, seamstress who has been cosplaying since 2001 with varied amounts of success.  I'm speaking from personal experience and I'm telling the truth, none of the 'realities' she laid out are as 'true' as she's laid them out to be.  None of them should keep you from enjoying yourself and this amazing hobby.  Just remember that cosplaying is ultimately about you dressing up and you can do this in thousands of ways.  Play around and have fun!  Be yourself and enjoy yourself. 

In a final note, I'd like to present a final alternate view of what was posted in her article.  Below you will find a collection of people having fun in their cosplay, and their skills in the craft range all over.  You’ll find uplifting and positive articles of cosplay and how its touched people’s lives no matter what money, skill or time went into it.  This is, by far, not a complete list and if you know of other uplifting cosplayers feel free to include them in the comments below for others to see.  (Names are listed below the pictures, please follow the link for their page and photographer credits.)

Please consider these other views and join us.  Cosplaying is fun and it can be fun for everyone, even you.

Morrigan Allistar as Saber
Brichibi Cosplays

Misa on Wheels
Princess Mentality Cosplay

KewelBeanz Cosplay
Gina G and Red Ribbon Cosplay
Dragon Slipper Tailoring


  1. First off, I love your corrected realities. They are the real truth of Cosplaydom!
    Second I have a cosplayer who is not on your list who has helped me and several others to reunite with our inner cosplay spirit.

    Dustbunny is an amazing cosplayer! She is uplifting and kind hearted to everyone she sees. She's always been an inspiration to her followers. She is starting to gain attention for this and her beautiful character inspired ball gowns as well as her wonderful attitude and all inclusive nature. Her facebook cosplay profile is here:

    Back in 2005 I went to two conventions, for one day each. I made my first cosplay, Shanks from One Piece, and happily wore it to both. Despite some misgivings (the lack of a prop sword, and my sandals getting chewed up by my dog before the second convention.) I was proud of my effort and walked through the con halls with my head held high and a smile on my face. Everyone was kind and happy to see me. There was even a Luffy at the first one, and a Buggy at the second one! It made my day when Buggy told me that I was really accurate in drawing the scars, and considering I had done them by myself...I was overjoyed.

    The following year I returned, with my friends, to the second convention and with a more complicated outfit. Orochimaru from Naruto. However something had changed in the year between the cons. People were being hateful, rude and even going so far as to follow me around calling me names and just in general being bullies. I was miserable. If it hadn't been for a very caring...and very tall (read slightly intimidating) male friend sticking with me and my yaoi obsessed ex boyfriend (he was dressed as Kabuto...I'm so not a fan of that pairing....though he was) I might have left. I was being called all kinds of hateful things; "Thunder thighs", "anime's Micheal Jackson" ect...I didn't know or care what had caused all of this negative attention. I had wanted to cosplay Orochimaru from the moment I saw him. Again with a few props missing I felt out of place, and was not happy with myself. The other more hateful cosplayers were only making it worse. I vowed to never again set foot into a cosplay con hall without an accurate outfit, and props. Though looking back at the pics I see how much work I really put into that Orochimaru costume, and it saddens me to think I let them bring me down. But between all of the wonderful things I've seen on Dustbunny's page...and the loving help of a few good friends, I am on my way to hand crafting my own set of outfits for a local con. My debut date is set for next year and I can't wait!

    THANK YOU for the epic, awesome and amazing article! Now I have another motivational piece to help me cosplay on!

    1. Thank you for sharing! I wish you the best of luck with your re-debut and I would love to see pictures of your cosplay when you're done! You got this!!

  2. Finally, someone who agrees with me that cosplay isn't just for rich people. 8D

  3. I agree. It's all about having fun, not meeting some esoteric standards set by a few naysayers. I don't dress up much, but I enjoy the costumes of those who do.

  4. Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for this post! It was so on-point! I actually ended up writing a response as well and credited you ( ).

    I think that in her attempt to save people from being hated on, she became a hater herself. Or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe she was hating and she just wanted to sound like she wanted to help.

    Anyways, thanks again! Writing posts like these prove that there are people in the community that are kind, helpful and understanding.

    1. Thanks so much for helping to spread the positive word on cosplay in a well written manner! I enjoyed reading your response too ^__^
      I'll be sure to look out for you if we're ever in your area for conventions!