Do you ever discover something and wish you had known about it sooner? As I near 30 and wave bye bye to my youth, it seems each and every week I am hearing about some interesting hobby or interest which I wouldn’t mind trying, but now it feels too late. Most people have worn fancy dress at some point, mostly when children and mostly involving a cheap, itchy costume which your parents swear you look cute in. My big moment was being Marge Simpson on World Book Day in Year 4. I know she isn’t a book character, but that should shed some insight into my priorities at that age. I didn’t care if it was the rules, I effing loved The Simpsons and no school was going to stop me. My mum painstakingly spent her night shift making my ‘hair’ out of cotton wool, and spraying it blue. The result is as follows:
I know, I look amazing. Fast forward a couple hundred years, and here I am now. 27 years old and still dressing up for fun. Not THAT kind of fun. Cosplay aka dressing up as characters from popular culture for events, modelling or just because it’s awesome. It’s as simple as that really.
My boyfriend Kane and I attended MCM Expo last year, putting together our first costumes with the help of friends and family, and had an amazing time. This year we decided to cosplay as Nabooru and Link from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Of course, in true Lou fashion, I made this decision all too late and it was a bit of a rush to put together. That said, I was really happy with the end product and was feeling excited to get there and be surrounded by others with the same passion as me.
When my mum aka designated chauffeur pulled up to the Excel, I became paralysed with fear and wouldn’t get out of the car. NOT the behaviours of the most powerful female in the Gerudo tribe. I was coaxed out with a mixture of tough love and shoving, and then found myself next to Kane/Link while mum drove off with a cheery ‘Byee!’.
Inside was heaven as always. Merch, merch and more merch. People had made such effort with their costumes and it really showed. There was, however, something bothering me and I wouldn’t realise what it was until the day was over.
When I looked on Facebook the day after, negative comments about MCM were bouncing around. The ones that stood out to me the most were the ones along the lines of ‘Someone had a go at me because I had the wrong hairstyle/costume colour for my character’ or ‘I worked really hard on my costume and barely anyone noticed because I am plus size’. Though I have (thankfully) never been at the end of this sort of judgement, the whole idea of it really resonated with me, and also bothered me. I cosplay because I have a passion and an interest in video game culture, I am representing a character I love and it makes me feel good. The idea that there are now limitations within something done just for fun is ridiculous. As children, did we look at each other at fancy dress parties and go ‘Hey! You can’t be Batman you’re only 3ft!’. No. This shouldn’t happen. We have enough restrictions and oppression in day to day life without fear of being excluded from a community we are passionate about. We want to support each other, we want to be a force to be reckoned with and most of all, we want to have a good time and let go of all the rubbish that being an adult has thrown at us. Let’s treat every con like a kid’s fancy dress party and just be in awe of everyone.
Here are my rules for (Cos)Playing nice at events.(cut out and keep!)
1. Compliment Each other– if you think someone looks great, say it! Don’t be shy.In turn, if someone says you look great, return the compliment. It doesn’t cost anything and it could make that person’s day.
2.If you don’t have anything nice to say, yada yada.. – Everyone is guilty of being a little judgemental. Keep your thoughts in your head, and don’t vocalise them no matter how much you want to. You never know if the person can hear you, and you don’t want to hurt an innocent persons feelings. Once I accompanied my boyfriend to a comic store wearing a Garfield dress, and some guy slagged my dress(or more, the fact that I liked Garfield) off to his friend thinking I couldn’t hear. It made me doubt myself, and more than anything just upset me.
3. Cosplay does NOT equal consent – I’m talking to you Mr.(or Mrs.) PervyPerv. If you would like to take someone’s photo, ask. One of the reasons many people cosplay is to have their work noticed, so most people will be more than happy to oblige. Be respectful of people’s personal space, and more than anything do not touch/hug/ogle without that person’s consent. No matter how hot they are.
4. Change your expectations– I get it. You love anime.Your dream is to see someone dressed like your favourite character. What are the chances that person is going to have the same body proportions, massive eyes and turn into a panda on command? It isn’t going to happen. Don’t be upset, don’t fret. Instead, see the person as an awesome REAL interpretation of your favourite character and take their photo. I am a vertically challenged brown girl. I don’t want to hear ‘Oh a black Sailor Moon!’. I am no less Sailor Moon than anyone else because of my colour or size. No one is naturally pink but that doesn’t make them any less Princess Bubblegum if that is who they choose to cosplay. Characters are open to interpretation to everyone, that is the beauty of having so many to choose from. Be who you want to be, and appreciate those that have made the effort. Similarly, think of the credits at the end of a film, and how many people are under the ‘costume’ and ‘make up’ sections. Cosplayers make their outfits with half the time, budget and manpower so cut them some slack.
5. Enjoy yourself– Without getting too preachy and jolly here, just have an amazing time. What I have said so far relates to a very small percentage of the community, and you should not be deterred. Conventions and similar events are a great way to meet people, to network and to just enjoy yourself. How many other places can you have a beer with Batman?Thought so.
If anyone knows the artists of the above, please let me know so I can credit their work! Also, visit Heroes United Against Cosplay Bullying to like an amazing FB page dedicated to ending cosplay hate.
Thank you for reading my sort of rant. Be you!!