“To me, it’s being in the shoes of the characters you love and having fun! It’s called Cos”play”, meaning if you’re not having fun, then you aren’t doing it right.”
That quote came from the wonderful book called Cosplay in America, which should be the bible for cosplayers. It is the concept of cosplaying and it should be a fun hobby first, no matter what.
As a long time member of the cosplay community, I noticed some questionable trends that have been popping up which don’t bode well for cosplay as a whole. First and foremost would be the emergence of elitist cosplayers. Too often I see several questionable posts made by these types of cosplayers, which, at best are in poor taste and at worst downright judgmental, which really hurts the community. These holier-than-thou would make guidelines that are too unrealistic. For example, demanding that one has to look exactly like the character that one is cosplaying and stay in the character for the entirety.
To me, these types of elitest demands in the cosplay community really suck out of all the enjoyment and make it very stressful hobby when it is supposed to be a fun times for everyone to enjoy. I have been to major cons where these types of cosplayers just ruin all of the fun and hurt the experience. It doesn’t help the community in any way, but rather stunts its growth and negatively impacts fandom.
However, there are few high level cosplayers like Yaya Han whose are not elitist in the least and promote cosplay at various cons. That’s fortunate because people like this show us that cosplaying is about having fun first and foremost. There are several points that Yaya Han brought up about the cosplay recently on her Twitter account that I found very intriguing. My personal favorite statement being:
“That is why I have never/will never believe in cosplay elitism. No 1’s better or deserving than another. Just different cosplay styles.”
That quote really hit it home for me because everyone does have their own different styles and we should celebrate that. It’s not fair for elitist cosplayers to make such questionable comments to other cosplayers whose concept of cosplay doesn’t fit their own.
Another statement that caught my attention from Han is:
“It’s great to be proud of your work, but don’t put others down. I never understood comparing costumes. Everyone has different budget and time.”
This should be made clear to the cosplay community that not everyone has the same budget and time. I have seen some cosplayers pour lot of money and time into their cosplays to make them look good. Great for them! But not everyone can has the time or resources to pull this off. Take me for example, I’m a very poor college student so I often hit up thrift stores to acquire pieces of my cosplay on a small budget. I do my best with limited resources but I always make sure that I have fun, no matter what.
“The cool part about Cosplay is that it can mean something different to each cosplayer without being “wrong”. It’s very personal passion,”
Yaya Han mused on Twitter. Again, this should be made very clear to the cosplay community that not everyone will have same idea when it comes to cosplaying. For instance, I prefer to cosplay the characters that mainly dress up in a suit and tie because it suits my personal attributes and it makes it easier for me to be mobile during the cons.
Another pitfall of cosplay elitism is that it stifles creativity and places unnecessary restrictions on people. If accuracy were the only baseline for cosplay, there wouldn’t be any fun and outlandish cosplayers, like Ronald McDonald Sephiroth vs. KFC Cloud Strife and Sailor Bubba. To me, those cosplayers happen to make the hobby even more fun and enjoyable because they are so unconventional and fun without any restrictions.
“Cosplay is an ever changing community and I have changed with it over the years. I used to fight the changes, but now I embrace it!!”
Again, Yaya Han is completely right that the trends in the cosplay community really change at a rapid pace so one has to continually evolve with the community rather than struggle against it. When I first cosplayed 4 years ago, it was entirely different world. But now, the landscape is rapidly evolving and I do my best to embrace the change. After all, the only constant in life is change so it is up to us to whether we’ll roll with the punches or struggle against the current. I would certainly suggest the former!
“To me, the cosplay is a way of life. It has truly brought me so much happiness ever since the first day I started doing it. It has brought me together with all the people I love most. All my roommates, my boyfriend, and so many other people whom I have come across on this great journey in the costuming world. Becoming someone else for a day, losing yourself in a different world is a truly wonderful feeling.”
That quote is from Lindsay in book Cosplay in America. It truly captures my feelings about what cosplay should be.
I have never regretted entering the cosplay community, but I want it to be enjoyable for everyone. I’m very blessed to have a wonderful mentor who’s taught me that I should cosplay for myself and the characters I love, and not for the approval of others. I have always followed that advice because it allows me to explore other avenues without restrictions, which is excellent for growth and gaining experience in this hobby.
There are few high level cosplayers whose I would like to thank for their time and interacting with me. Obviously, I would like to thank Yaya Han for posting her thoughts about cosplay on Twitter. Also, I’m very thankful to Living Ichigo, whose is a very cool and friendly cosplayer that takes the time to interact with others so frequently at cons and on social media websites. Lastly, I would like to thank Johnny N’ Junkers for being so cool to me about using his pictures for this article. You guys are truly the assets to the cosplay community and please keep up good work.
Remember, the cosplay hobby should be for fun, not to be competitive. It’s about having good times with your fellow cosplayers and creating wonderful memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.
Check out some of the greats below and again, thanks to all of them!