Reflections on Cosplaying : Undies Update 6/28

So, if you’ve been following my page for a little bit, you may have noticed I’m winding down on the cosplay front lately. I honestly didn’t realize this myself until a good friend of mine messaged me and said “you seem like you’re over the whole cosplay thing, lately, are you okay?” And she’s not wrong. I am kind of over it lately. If you’ve been following me since March you’ve seen first hand, my interactions with [the con that shall not be named] and certain individuals in this community, you might think, well, it’s no wonder that I don’t want to do this as much anymore.

But I mean when I say I refuse to let people steal my joy. And to spit on cosplay as a hobby isn’t fair at all. Cosplay isn’t the problem, it’s certain individuals that are the problem. I can honestly say if not for this hobby…if not for the cosplay community, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today, right here, at this very minute.

I remember in 3rd grade, being on Weight Watchers with my mother. Kids in my class were calling me fat, and I didn’t want to give them any ammunition. I followed the diet, went to the meetings, and thought that this was normal. It’s really not. I had always had a very negative self image. I remember one girl in my class, we’ll call her C, was ALWAYS picking on me. If it wasn’t my looks, it was the way I spoke, the way I sat, the way my headband looked in my hair, whatever she could use to tear me down. I remember having a crush on a boy in my grade, in 4th or 5th grade, he used me for my kindness and made fun of me behind my back. And the insults were all the same. Fat, ugly, annoying. She can’t wear a two piece swimsuit to the pool party, she’s too chunky.

Their words replayed in my head well after I’d left elementary school and remained there throughout junior high and high school. I also remember saying to my mother, “Nobody will ever want to be with me, I’m way too ugly.” She assured me I wasn’t, that I was beautiful. “You’re just saying that because you’re my mother.” I remember replying. I sincerely believed it. In high school, mind you, I wasn’t even anywhere close to the weight I am now. I was probably BARELY plus sized, breasts aside. Even those caused me problems, unwanted comments from teachers, relatives, and boys at school made me want to crawl into a hole and die. I even tried to hide the fact that I had breasts by wearing boyish, baggy clothes, and doubling up on sports bras. I thought my body was something to be ashamed of.

Now here I am, modeling for a bunch of photographers, posing for shots at conventions, and being invited places to speak about my journey to self acceptance. If you’d told me, this insecure, depressed and image obsessed girl, that this is what I’d be doing right now, I’d probably have laughed right in your face. But here we are, nonetheless. “You have to get lost before you find yourself”, may seem like a cheesy, Hallmark quote but it couldn’t be more true in my case. Cosplaying, and being able to dress in costumes of characters that I know and love, has gotten me so far out of my comfort zone as far as how I dress and what I wear in my daily life.

While going to cons is fun and I enjoy meeting new people, I really feel like my goal next year needs to change. What I really love to do is to get content out there for you all to see. These blog posts, other writings and reviews, speaking on panels, managing things with C-Mart over at EvilGeeks.com, that’s what I really love doing. Cosplay has become too competitive…and it’s not a game I want to play. I didn’t sign up for scrutiny, backstabbing, drama, etc. I just want to have fun, do what I love, and give back a little to this community that’s given me so much. Sure, I’ll delve into cosplay here and there in the future, but I have a feeling Undiesofwondy will look really different a year from now. With grad school and my adult life beginning, I think it’s time for me to hang up the star spangled booty shorts for a bit.

But they will always be there for me when I need them, sitting in my closet, waiting for me to put ’em on, just to serve some justice.

Undies Update : Summertime Edition

Hi all! I haven’t posted an update in a bit so I wanted to share with you all what I’ve been up to and where I’ll be in the next few weeks. FIRSTLY, Summer has officially begun and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be getting some time off and to myself. And what better way to ring in the summer than with some convention appearances? I’ll be at CONvergence in Minneapolis, Minnesota from June 30-July 3rd, and InfinityCon in Lake George, NY the following weekend on July 10-11th. I’ll be doing panels at both events and will be hosting and judging the cosplay contest for InfinityCon! Both have great guests and events and you should check them out if you’re able to.

I have no clue what I’m wearing to these events, cosplay wise, so figuring that out will be fun. Stay tuned, I guess, for what I’m doing on that front. It’s hard to focus on cosplay stuff when I’m doing so much work and planning for so many other big life changes! I’ve been finally officially accepted to graduate school so I’m making big plans for that. I’m definitely not quitting cosplay, but I’m going to be calming down a lot and not starting as many new projects and not attending as many conventions as I have been. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, guys! I’m just really excited about starting this new journey and that I’m on this amazing path of self improvement.

Reading wise I’ve been killing it lately. Thinking of blogging specifically for the books I’ve been reading. I’ve gotten really into some contemporary poetry, and my two favorites are “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur and “Eighteen Years” by Madisen Kuhn. They’re both awesome, and very personal. I almost felt as if I were reading something I shouldn’t be. Both speak so candidly and I could relate to a lot of the topics they discussed in their books. Madisen Kuhn really impressed me — she’s only 20 years old and is already a published author. A successful one! (Who is on Twitter and super nice, by the way.) I really need to get cracking on my writing…she definitely inspires me. I also have read some other great books. ‘Hamilton, The Revolution’, which is all about the Broadway show and the making of it, ‘Love Letters to the Dead’, and currently I’m reading a sci-fi book called ‘The Broken Stars’ which already has me hooked!

Aside from conventions, I plan to study for my CLEP examination which I’m taking over the course of the school year, prepare for school and work in the fall, and write “like I’m running out of time”, as Aaron Burr would say in ‘Hamilton’. (If you haven’t listened to it…you should.) Hope you all are doing well, and share with me your summer adventures in the comments or through my Facebook page/Twitter/social media!

Nerdiquette: How to Properly Treat Your Con Staff and Volunteers

 

This weekend I had the great pleasure of working at my local convention, Albany Comic Con. It’s my 3rd or 4th show working with them, and I am always honored to be asked back. Albany Comic Con holds such a special place in my heart, because it was one of the first events I attended upon moving to the Capital Region two years ago. I was so nervous and excited to get my feet wet in this community of creativity, and I had a blast going to a smaller, homegrown show. Since then, I’ve since become friendly with other convention owners and have had the opportunity to work at many other shows.

But it’s my local shows, in particular, where I notice a trend. Perhaps it’s because I’m so involved and keep up with the local group on Facebook, but I notice people complaining or blaming staff for many things out of their control. As someone who volunteers much of her free time to help out with these shows, I do really take personal offense to this, as do many of my peers who also volunteer. It’s because of this that I decided to compile a list of responses to these grievances.

“It’s too hot/cold in this building.” Literally this could not have less to do with volunteers and staff members. The temperature is affected by so many things. If the convention space is particularly crowded, body temperature and closeness of others raises the temperature significantly. Not to mention — we don’t control the heat/AC — the convention space does. If you come up to us and yell about the heat/cold…there’s literally nothing we can do. Except agree with you — because if you’re feeling it, we’re probably feeling it too. The only difference is that you have the option to leave and we don’t.

“Why are tickets so expensive? You guys should make this more affordable/free for us! Don’t you care about your guests?” Yes, we do care about the guests. That’s why volunteers/staff work closely with convention owners to make sure you’re getting the best show possible. And, surprise! That costs money. If we gave you a free event, chances are, we wouldn’t have the cash to get in the comic guests, vendors, and other people you so love to see at these things. Money also goes to securing a venue, so unless you want to host the next convention in your backyard…but I digress. Sometimes the venue or space increases the rental price and the convention needs to charge more for admission in order to make up the cost. Trust me, the convention is likely not raising prices to pocket more of your money. Most owners will tell you that they barely make back their losses at the end of the convention.

“Why don’t you have more famous people?” Some shows, like Wizard World Cons, NYCC and SDCC, are run by corporations rather than small/local convention owners. It’s just like in the outside world, here. There are Mom and Pop shops, and there is Walmart. Comparing local shows to corporate run shows is like comparing apples to spaghetti. They’re two totally different things. While some small cons use their money to get in media guests, it’s not how every show runs things. Some cons prefer to have artists/vendors as the priority. It’s just the way it works.

“The Staff wasn’t smiling. It looked like they were all miserable.” This shit is hard work. We’re doing a ton of stuff all at once, for absolutely no pay. (I mean, maybe some people get paid? I’ve really never gotten paid while staffing a con. For guesting, yes. But not staffing.) I can recall one local show I worked, where a guest complained on a local group because the staff looked tired, one of the cosplay judges wasn’t even in cosplay, didn’t smile or high five her child. What this person didn’t know was that the day prior, almost all the staff was volunteering at another event, where we were outside all day and nearly all got sick afterward. Sometimes, for shows that are more than one day long, there are afterparties or after hours events that ALSO need staffing, so sometimes staff and volunteers are kept up late. Some shows run continuously for 24-48 hours. Guess what? The con still needs to remain staffed. You never know if someone got stuck working third shift. Also, we’re human beings. Not robots. We have lives outside of volunteering/staffing the convention. You never know what another person is dealing with.

“Why didn’t I win the costume contest? Your judges are biased and they pick only their friends to win.”

This is, perhaps, the one point that hits closest to home for so many of my fellow ACC volunteers. This is someth

ing we hear after every single cosplay contest, and let me just make this perfectly clear…it is 8000% false. I can literally say I wasn’t close personal friends with any of the main ACC winners. I barely know people in this area. I’ve only been here 2 years. My fellow judges are NOTHING but PROFESSIONAL, and to insinuate otherwise is disgusting and shows poor sportsmanship. The majority of people who make this claim do so when they lose to someone else, yet when they win, they have glowing reports of the contest. We work our asses off to pull off a good cosplay contest for everyone. It takes months and months of planning, preparation, and cash (to put towards prizes) and it’s downright disrespectful to treat people who work so hard, to put together something that is requested time and time again. We could simply not offer a cosplay contest, but people would complain about that as well. True story: I know a 9 year old girl who takes loss more eloquently than some adults in this area. If you didn’t win, it’s probably because someone was better than you. It has nothing to do with you personally, and does not define you as a cosplayer. It doesn’t even mean that yours wasn’t as good as person x or person y…it just means, in the eyes of 3-5 judges, someone was viewed as better than you.  If you cannot handle losing, you have no business entering a costume contest.

 

Now that I’ve addressed some of these frequently heard complaints, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to resolve some of these issues. The first thing I would suggest is to VOLUNTEER, VOLUNTEER, VOLUNTEER! Cons could always use more staff and volunteer support, and usually, there are nice incentives for helping out — like free lunch and free admission to said event. Also, it’s the absolute best way to get some of your concerns addressed. My 3rd grade teacher always used to say, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” If you want a specific area improved, volunteer there. There’s no better way to know how a cosplay contest is being run, than to help run it!

If you have concerns, the best way to go about it is to go directly to the source. The con owners welcome constructive critiques and use them to make their show better time and time again. A good business person always takes the customer’s concerns seriously, and it’s no different in the convention world. Facebook posts bashing convention staff are NOT the way to go. Address it with the convention owner, if there’s a satisfaction survey offered, take it and air your grievances there. It makes your concerns more valid and doesn’t make you look like a petty vaguebooker. Believe me, I know how great the temptation is to complain all over social media. I have been guilty of this in the past. But going straight to the source is the best course of action for all involved.

I hope I shed some light on what it’s like to be a volunteer/staff member. I honestly love doing it and it’s how I have met so many dear friends. If you don’t volunteer/have done some of the things mentioned on this list/rant thing, I hope that this enlightens you as well! I encourage anyone who’s worked a con to share some of their stories in the comments or with me personally on the Facebook group. Don’t forget to say “thanks” to a volunteer or staff member at the next con you go to!

 

Metamorphosis: Undies Update June 2016

I’ve been itching to write something since I’ve finally got some time to spare (for a change, huh?) and believe it or not, this entry was inspired by my class. For those of you who don’t know me in the muggle world, I’m an assistant teacher in a Universal Pre-K classroom when I’m not cosplaying/blogging/reading comics. Recently, we did a unit on the life cycle of a butterfly, and we got some caterpillars in our classroom. My class was able to watch the life cycle of a butterfly firsthand, and this week, after our Memorial Day break, we let out butterflies free.

Clearly this blog isn’t to inform you on how butterflies work, so I’ll get to the point. The metamorphosis got me thinking about my own life, and how I’ve changed as a person, writer, and cosplayer, in this past year alone. My favorite human, Walt Disney, once said, “”Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” I feel the same is true for all of us, whether it be about creativity, personal growth, or whatever, we are always changing and evolving as people. Do I think that I’m a perfect person? No. Not by any means. But thinking back to last year, I can see such tremendous growth in every aspect of my life.

I don’t talk about it much, because I hate being pitied and I really hate divulging any deeply personal details of my life, but last year I was going through so much. I was struggling so much with depression, anxiety and mental health in general. I hated my job. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I felt like a failure as a person, cosplayer, and friend. Now, here I am, getting regular treatment, taking care of myself, (hopefully) attending graduate school in the Fall for my Masters in Teaching, and sure of myself as a person.

This blog isn’t to brag about how great my life has been compared to last year, I promise. I’ll always struggle with my mental health, I had my fair share of drama in the cosplay community this year as well. But the important thing is…I’m still here, breathing, cosplaying, and living my life. And while I have bad days, I know that I don’t have a bad life. And it could be far worse. It HAS been far worse. And I’ll get through it.

Growth is a necessary part of life. And in order to continue that growth, sometimes we need to go back to square one. If you’ve ever seen Mean Girls– do you remember that one scene where Lindsay Lohan’s character, Cady, goes to visit Regina George (Rachel McAdams) at her house, after she was hit by that bus? Even though Regina was an uber bitch, Cady is able to recognize that she’s made some mistakes too. She says, “When you get bitten by a snake, you have to suck out all the poison, that’s what I had to do, suck all the poison out of my life.” Like Cady, I know that I’ve made some bad decisions and I’m not a perfect person. I can be overly defensive, and it’s caused me to burn some bridges within my friendship circles. It stems from my trust and abandonment issues and my anxiety as a whole. I’m not making excuses, though, and I fully intend to take responsibility for my actions. If you’re reading this and I’ve upset you in some way, shape or form — I’m really sorry. I want to suck the poison out of my life, and I’d love nothing more than to start over with a clean slate for everyone involved. Life is too short to hold grudges. Cosplay is an escape for so many of us…nobody should have to be riddled with anxiety or fear when gearing up to go to a cosplay event. We should all be there for each other, lead by example, and make this community an awesome one.