A couple of days ago I read an interesting article on cosplay. I talked about race in cosplay. Here is the article.
As I was reading the article, it made me think. It made me think of all the criticisms that I have seen on the net. The amount and degree of the criticism can border on the downright abusive. This outlet of geek culture is as equally divisive as… well, most. It’s right up there with the “Fake Geek Girl” argument. Unlike the “Fake Geek Girl” argument, cosplay can really bring out all the isms.
In the above article talks about racism in cosplay. Racism is a huge problem, period. As much as we would like to think we’re in a post-race society, the truth is we’re not. I’ve personally heard people, largely ex-friends, make repeated racist comments. It’s sad that it still exists, but it does.
What’s even sadder is when people make someone feel bad about their cosplay because they’re not racially accurate. Honestly, that shouldn’t matter. The point behind cosplay is that people are cosplaying characters that speak to them. There’s something about them they feel so drawn to that they want to occasionally dress up as them. It’s about fun.
However, some of the comments the cosplayer received were so racist, I can understand why a lot of prospective cosplayers would be afraid to cosplay in the future… me included.
I have quite a few characters that I would like to cosplay… hell, some of them are even male. It’s quite difficult for me to cover-up my femininity as it’s quite prominent. For instance, I love Ciel Phantomhive from Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler). More importantly, I love the costuming. However, there’s no way I could ever accurately be Ciel Phantomhive for two reasons: 1) I’m not male and 2) I’m not twelve.
But why would that matter?
To some people, it does. This is part of what makes the internet a dangerous place. Because of the anonymity that the internet affords people… as well as the ability to tear into someone without dealing with the repercussions.
That is why I’m afraid to do cosplay.
I know that if I were to cosplay any of the characters that I love, I would be torn apart for being too old or too fat. And that’s the reality of it: I know that I’m older than the typical cosplay age. I know I’m too heavy and not athletic enough to cosplay some of the characters that I want (Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell, for instance). Part of my personal reservation largely has to do with the abuse I received as a child. I am more critical of myself than I am of others.
Because I love seeing people cosplay because they enjoy it. I love seeing people smiling, enjoying themselves, happy because they’re dressing up as someone they love. More power to them. I don’t think it should matter. I find myself in awe of people who have incredible costuming skills (and in many ways I’m jealous because I wish that I possessed them myself).
It’s a shame that cosplay tends to bring out so many isms in people. It’s sad that people are more inclusive to people who don’t necessarily fit the mold that’s stated in anime. Without the aid of plastic surgery, most women don’t look that way.
People should cosplay because they enjoy it. So, if you want to dress like someone, do it. There’s always going to be people who are going to be hypercritical of people for whatever reason.
I’ll close with the video of Yaya Han’s panel on the Sociology of Cosplay. She makes a lot of really good points about cosplay.