Sparkly Politics

My own mother unfriended me on Facebook today.

No, surprisingly, it wasn’t because of my weird hobby where I dress in spandex and capes and squish myself into a room with a bunch of others doing the same. It wasn’t because I swear, like, a fucking lot. It wasn’t because I finally conceded that pineapple on pizza isn’t all that bad (or maybe I’ve just lived upstate too long). It was because of a man.

Specifically, an orange skinned man who used to be known as the rich guy who screamed “You’re Fired!”, with a flick of his wrist ushering hopefuls out of the door on ‘The Apprentice’, who, in a bizarre turn of events, is now the president of our United (?) States of America.

If you’ve been around this blog or any of my other social media for any period of time, you’d know that I’m plus sized, suffer from anxiety, depression, mild OCD and ADD. As a kid, although I wasn’t chubby, I was insufferably annoying. The ADD was one of the major reasons why I was bullied in elementary school. I was “the annoying girl” who nobody wanted to invite to their birthday parties, the one who was often the punchline of jokes, and the one who would come home day in and day out sobbing because I felt alone. They also told me I was ugly, a fact I believed for most of my childhood into my teenage years. I would often wonder why I looked this way and why I couldn’t look like anyone else. I really believed I was a disgusting creature who would eventually end up like this one particular neighborhood bag lady who would push herself in a wheelchair, uphill, wearing a bright yellow rain poncho.

However, when I would collapse on my bed sobbing into my pillow, my mother was always one to tell me to stand up for myself. She said the bullies just couldn’t handle my sparkle, and that one day I would see that they were just unhappy inside, and that bullies always got what was coming to them.

Unless, of course, the bully grows up to be the President of the United States of America.

Politically, I’ve always been the black sheep in the family. I listened to loud, angry, punk music growing up. Am I necessarily all “fuck the establishment?” No. But I was obsessed with Green Day and I thought the loud, angry strains of American Idiot were the deepest, most genuine things I’ve ever heard of. But before teenage me, there was younger me. Until around 8th grade, I didn’t know a thing about politics, except for what my parents would talk about in front of me. We rarely watched the news when we were younger, as my parents made a big deal about not exposing us to anything that might upset us. Things were also a lot less intense in the early 90’s. So, it’s no surprise that once I went out into the world, and began exposing myself to these different viewpoints, that I was able to figure out where I laid my priorities in the grand scheme of things.

But I felt this insane need to hide it from everyone. At home, I echoed back everything my parents said, because all I’d ever wanted was their approval. In high school, I remember not weighing in on political discussions, for fear that people would actually discover that I was [GASP] having different viewpoints than my parents. As if they’d punish me for something like that. Which, let’s be honest, I really don’t think they would have, but it just goes to show what type of power parents hold over their children, regardless of the fact if they know it.

My mother had always exposed me to real world issues, allowing me to express myself without weighing in herself. I remember vividly the day I came home after learning about abortion law, stating that I was pro-choice. My mother listened carefully to me about why I made that decision, and I remember being proud to have come to the conclusion that a woman’s body was her own, and she should be able to decide whether or not she should be able to birth a child. I don’t know what my mother’s stance is on this issue, but I felt, deep inside, she was proud of me too.

That’s why, when I saw [Add Friend], rather than the familiar Facebook timeline on my mother’s page, my heart sank.

Earlier today, many people on my timeline had been sharing around a quote regarding the protests and political unrest. It said, and I quote,

“I can be silent no more!” This sentiment is widespread, as if typing out our grievances will somehow solve the world’s problems. The democratizing force of the internet makes us all feel like our opinions are much more valuable than they really are.

It sounds harsh but most of our opinions don’t really matter. The only thing that matters is truth and action, and that is not the same as opinion. Of course, the problem is that we often confuse having an opinion with knowing the truth. We step onto our soapboxes and pontificate as if we have a full and comprehensive understanding of the truth. But we don’t.

I try to stay quiet when I see posts on Facebook to this effect, because while others have different opinions than me, I do try to respect them. But reading this post, alongside the quote “I couldn’t have said it better myself!”, I felt nauseous. Like all the air had been sucked out of my lungs. Suddenly, for the first time in this election saga, I felt truly defeated. My opinions don’t matter? I shouldn’t be able to stand up for myself? And the worst thing: my mother agreed with it?

I stared at the photo for a long while. I took a deep breath, and I commented on it. Why? Because I was told to stand up against bullies. I was told not to let anyone dull my sparkle.

Sister Theresa, whoever you are, who wrote this article, I honestly pray you find a shred of compassion in your cold heart. Your sentiment has effectively ostracized mother from child.

And to anyone who believes our opinions don’t matter…true, action is important, but without advocating for the cause, how will we know when to take action? How will we get the truth out there?

I for one, am sorry if my opinions upset people, especially my mother, who I have nothing but love and respect for, but that doesn’t mean I will censor myself for your comfort. In the next four years, at least, I will be plenty uncomfortable. So will many others.

And I won’t stop sparkling.

Don’t Call Me A Cosplayer : Why I’m Finished in 1,000 Words or Less

This might sound weird, but from now on, if you see me at a convention, don’t call me a cosplayer.

I know, I’ve built up my following through cosplay, I’ve been doing it since 2007. Recently I posted on my Facebook page that I’ve made the decision to stop cosplaying and focus more on my media persona. This is a decision, sadly, that I’ve come to after months of struggling with the shift of the convention community as a whole. I haven’t even been involved with the convention scene for that long, it was only about 2-3 years ago that I began doing panels, having tables at these events, and was invited as a guest to my first convention.

Don’t get me wrong, guys, I am MORE than grateful for every opportunity I’ve been given. Good OR bad, they’ve been learning experiences, and have helped me make other connections I never would have made otherwise. Like, what other time can you gain access to parties where you’ll drink with Playmates and 80’s action stars? Not many people can say they’ve done that. But, I digress. For as many great times as I’ve had in the convention community, I’ve had some horrible experiences that have turned me off to it as a whole. Mainly, within the cosplay community. I’ve been dealing with harassment, whether it be about my size, look, or a difference of opinion, since the beginning of my cosplay adventure. It’s only gotten worse the more I’ve gotten involved in this scene.

Recently I worked at a convention where I dealt with some Regina George type bullshit. From MANY different people. Purposefully left out of promotion leading up to the convention, petty war being waged via vague book statuses (which I know we’re ALL guilty of from time to time. We’re irrational people with access to the Internet, it happens.) and at the actual event, I had a literal Mean Girls moment. I won’t get into it, but it was a conversation where I actually had to stop myself more than once and think, “Wait, what?” I’ll just say it was very reminiscent of the scene where Regina and Cady are talking at the lunch table, and she says she’s really pretty. And when Cady accepts the compliment, Regina replies with, “So you agree? You think you’re really pretty?” These are the type of backhanded compliments and cleverly disguised disses that you’ll replay in your head long after the conversation is done, that will literally bring heat to your cheeks immediately in embarrassment.

I don’t know what it is about the cosplay community that’s changed since I started out, or maybe I’m the one that changed? I don’t know the answer. But all I can do is go back to the source…and go back to why I’ve done this in the first place. It was for fun. I didn’t care about appearances. I’ve never wanted to be a professional cosplayer. I have always just wanted an outlet for my creativity. To be an advocate for the less confident, girls or guys who are feeling currently the way I once did; ashamed of their bodies. I just wanted to make a difference. But I’m done giving back to a community that wants absolutely NO help.

A year or so ago I read an article by Yaya Han, where she said the cosplay community has gone way downhill since she began cosplaying. I can’t disagree with this. I remember at my first NYCC. I was wearing a casual cosplay and I was complimented and had my photos taken. Now, people won’t look at you as a “real cosplayer” unless you’re in 30 pounds of body armor or something. It used to be  a hobby where everyone was really accepting. Now, it’s all a competition. Dog eat dog. Regina George attacks on the daily. Not fun anymore.

So, guys. I’m seriously done this time. You may see me in cosplay, but don’t call me a cosplayer. I’m a person in a costume. Playing dress up. I refuse to fall into a category where lately, I receive nothing but criticism, bullying and grief. I’m in the process of selling off costumes I don’t use for charity events. I don’t know if people all over the place deal with this type of BS on the regular, or if it’s specific to this area. I can’t tell because my following has grown a lot in the past two years, which could play a role in this. NYC is much more divided. There’s NYC cosplay events, but it’s almost too large to be caught up in drama, unless you’re specifically looking for it. All of my problems started when I moved upstate and began attending these events. Is it because it’s smaller, and people are bored? Or is it because I’m more involved in the community than some other people? I really don’t know. I just don’t want to play this game anymore.

Part of me wonders if it’s the rise of the competitive cosplay world. Cosplay contests seem to cause a lot of the problems. I personally have been in contact with a few convention promoters, and we’re talking about the negativity that surrounds the contest. While I understand that it’s a great way to bring cosplayers out to events…I wonder if doing away with them would keep some of the negative few away? Maybe if smaller shows do away with the contests, anyway. Smaller shows don’t NEED them. Larger shows, I totally understand. But for people who are into the competition circuit, I’m pretty sure that your local collectible show’s 1st Place doesn’t matter much to people running, let’s say, The World Cosplay Summit, anyway.

Don’t try and convince me NOT to quit this hobby. I’ve tried sticking it out. I can’t deal with it anymore. I don’t have to do anything that doesn’t make me happy or affects me in a negative manner. My own mental health is more important to me than being “cos-famous.”

 

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.

 

I suck at updating this thing 2k16

Hi guys, I’m sorry I’ve been so absent lately. I’ve been kind of feeling meh lately and I thought maybe a blog post was in order. This convention season has been nothing short of amazing thus far — every event I’ve attended has been amazing, full of kind staff members and great guests, and an amazing experience for myself and those attending alongside of me. However, I think I may have overbooked myself slightly and I’ve kind of watered down my appearances for the rest of this convention year. I’ll be at Albany Comic Con, doing a panel with my COSUnity crew and helping to judge the cosplay contest.

Recently I’ve been really questioning my involvement in this hobby as a whole. I’m really sick of a lot of things that have popped up recently. The egos, the bullying, and the backstabbing have got to stop. This isn’t a fame game. I can honestly say I have NO desire to be cosplay famous or well known in the convention world at all. It’s just sort of something that happened for me. I hate the term Cos-famous…I think it only really has negative connotations and like I said, that’s never been what I’m about. I am SOOOO grateful for every opportunity I receive and I love that I have such a large support system for doing what I do. But I’m not here to be a master craftsman, or to outshine anyone else. This has always, always been about love of characters for me, and through portraying them, making others smile and feeling great about myself.

I’m just kind of baffled about the way I’ve been ostracized from my local community. One day, I feel like I have a million friends and that I’m wanted, and the next, I feel like everyone hates me. I’m vocal about many of my issues, yes, but it’s not for love of drama. It’s because I’m always trying to help others. That’s it, seriously. I never meant to start a turf war between local conventions, or cosplayers, or anything like that. The way I’m being portrayed, as a monster or bully, couldn’t be further from the truth of how I am. I will literally forgive someone who treated me like dirt just to avoid confrontation…I have this weird complex where I want everyone to like me. And yes, I get that’s not the way the world works, but I still hope, and try, and wish that I could be liked and accepted by everyone.

If you’re reading this and you actually have come across me in any way, shape or form, where I came off as a negative person, I really am sorry. I struggle with my demons daily. I have anxiety and depression, as well as a number of mental health issues I don’t really feel comfortable discussing. But I have a handle on them. And I live every day trying to be the best person I can be.

My creativity lately has been so severely stifled by some of the things going on on this community, especially my local community. I literally am afraid to show my face at events for fear of being bullied or made fun of. I just want to go back to having fun again.

Back when I started, there were no groups or social media I had to worry about. That’s when this was new and exciting and the most fun. I did what I wanted to do and didn’t care about likes or who thought I was this or that or the other thing. I just WAS. And I’m really hoping to get back to the core of that, from here on out.

A friend of mine gave me some good advice recently. Delete Facebook off your phone, she’d said. At first I was worried that I’d miss out on something (the FOMO is real, guys) but then I realized the world keeps going without Facebook. I still have Messenger activated, and I have a separate app for my cosplay page management, so I’m not totally shut off, but you’d be surprised how much less negative your life is when you don’t mindlessly scroll through FB at all hours of the day, and see anti-trans, homophobic, negative, shit posts. I really do feel like a whole new person, and it’s only been a few days.

I guess the moral of this story, kiddos, is to know your limits, and don’t be afraid to take a step back and take some “me” time. I started cosplaying for myself, and that’s the only person, ultimately, who needs my approval.

Am I quitting cosplay? No. No, I’m not. But 2016-2017 is going to be full of big changes for me. I’ll probably (if all goes well) be going for my Masters, continuing to work full time, and trying to adult a bit more, in terms of paying off some loan debt and trying to save up for a future for boyfriend and I. But one thing is for sure. Undiesofwondy will always be around, in one way, shae or form. I love writing and keeping this website and blog active are some of my core goals for the rest of the year. I love being able to share myself with you through my writing, and it’s therapeutic as hell to just get it all out, regardless of if someone, or…well…anyone, for that matter, is reading this.

If you are reading this, hi. I love you. <3

Deep Thoughts and A Moment In Someone Else’s Shoes

Hello, all. I have to apologize for my absence. Life kind of happened and I’ve been pulled in a million different directions. Between work, the possibility of going to school, and the decision I’ve been struggling with as of late; to potentially quit cosplaying and focus elsewhere, to say I’m stressed out is an understatement.

Today, a good friend of mine posted a bit of writing on his Facebook page that I thought would be worth it to share. He goes by The Squid Cosplay online, but I just know him as my friend Nick.

Me and Nick at an event in Saratoga last year.

He writes:

“Hi everyone I just had feeling to share with you so here I go about get real with you. I also been afraid to admit I had these demons in me and let my family and friends know I had them cause I wanted them remember me as go-lucky and happy person and not some crazy person. I have been really struggling lately with some demons in my life, I finally got to my breaking point and I lost it. Yeah I know that I have many stories to tell but this one is most serious and important one I can tell in my lifetime. Yeah, I know that I have great support by a lot of family and friends but sometimes even that isn’t enough from stopping me from reaching my breaking point. I want share my story how I to that breaking in my life because I to help others not get to their breaking point and how I beat it and how they beat it too.

As most of you know that year ago I moved into a supportive apartment in Regency Park Apartments in Queensbury, New York because I just thought that it was time leave my parents even tho it was hardest thing I done in my life. Why you ask cause, I wanted to expierence life I wanted to even tho I had 30 great years of my life and 13 years of it as a only child with one of the best and wonderful family that I deeply appreciate and care about, even tho they don’t seen it from me but I do. I also know they feel the same way about me even tho I feel like some of time don’t show it but I know they do. Which leads me to my first demon in my life cause when I was younger I was one of those quiet kids who kept to myself and did my homework cause mainly no one really forced me to be sociable with the other kids or be active in any social groups. Which I can’t put all the blame on them cause I didn’t actively look myself however, at that time I didn’t have any desire really look or realize that I would regret it later in life. Once I realized that I would regret it which was my junior year of high school I started to think to myself that I didn’t want be that hermit kid anymore but at that point I was so far behind socially I didn’t know where to began even now I am still trying to make up for lost time so I thought that CosPlaying would help that void which has some cause I am very creative person and I am also self taught artist. Yes I have made some great friends along way, but I am still looking for that deep serious conversion with about my life and there own and watch movies with or whatever. But the problem with most of my friends is that they aren’t mental all there where I am or they are too far away do anything with. Back in high school I had that and I thought it would last lifetime, which it didn’t. I even thought we would able move in together but he moved to Ohio, which hurt me deeply.

Which brings me to my second point I wanted make is as I watched my brother and sister grow up, accomplished things and experience life before me pains me deeply, I also realized I haven’t experience enough life myself cause I am late bloomer to help them grow and make right choices cause I wasn’t faced with that they are faced issues wish. This pains me deeply, cause I wish I did so I can have that relationship I so desperately want with them so that if they don’t want go Mom or Dad with their problems they always have me lean on even tho I wasn’t faced with same issues. Another thing about them and when I watched the Special Olympics that pains me deeply is when I watch them play sports and stuff in back of my mind this thought is always there, which is that could have been me out there cause if you know really know me I love sports mainly basketball. I want make my our parents happy most all, I know for fact our parents want grandchildren before its to late, and I don’t want let my siblings beat me to that expierence having children first cause I want be the one who gives our parents grandchildren first, plus I want help them though it.

Which, brings me to my third point I want make which is how I am ready to find that special someone to share my life with and settle down with them. Cause its my fear that I will be living alone then the thought of “what if” especially when I don’t know when I might break cause I am very fragile person. When that happens I tend to freeze and forget right thing to do. I want someone who will treat me with honor, respect, loyalty, trust, and compassion, which is the code I live by. Second fear I have is that I can’t be the sole provider for my family yet even for myself because of my disabilities as much I would love to be only provider but I know it won’t happen that crushes me deeply.

The fourth point I want make some social anxiety let me have different fears, things that they won’t do and only certain people they are willing open to and trust in there lives. For me I have fear of really opening up men but be honest with you I don’t have any rhyme or reason other than fact that men aren’t really type person who will listen and emphasize with anyone. For me I think its because I never had special bond with my father when I came out of womb as much I love my father even tho I am adopted. So when it comes doing things with just guys it freaks me right out then I just shut down if I have to do anything with just guys. However when it comes to just women I have no problem letting myself loose cause I had that special bond with my mother from womb even within the womb. Especially I love doing and talk girly things minus sports part of me. But even that I basically like doing that alone and for those that know me well enough you know why. For those that don’t I like play General Manager and Coach mainly for the New York Knicks but I also do it for Steelers, and for Mets, you may wondering how basically on my Playstation 3.

Well I think that the roots of my problems are because I have Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephus. But to be honest with you I think that we all have a disability that we have deal with no matter what it might be. We just have to suck it up and deal with it, be willing to make do with what we got dealt and yes we all have times where we are down when comes to that we just have get back up even tho it maybe hard but we just have to do it. Yeah there are some people that can deal with their problems easier then others but that goes to show you we all move in our own pace. Yes there are some people who don’t even try to deal with their own problem and just put others down make themselves better, but with people like me who can’t take it which make feel like crap. The best advice I give other is treat others like you want to be treated.”

I have to say, this piece of his writing really had such an emotional impact on me for many reasons. The first being, well, he’s my friend, and it pains me to know a friend of mine has really been through so much emotionally, physically and mentally. Living with Cerebral Palsy is not something I’d know anything about personally, but seeing that Nick has worked so hard to push through and overcome his disability has really changed my outlook on my own life. I think the line about “sucking it up and dealing with what we’re given” sums it up. We may struggle with our various demons, but no matter what they are, we should always remember to be strong and power through them. Additionally, we never know what someone else may be struggling with, so treating others how you want to be treated is extra important.

I really just wanted to post his piece of writing because I hope it will open your eyes as it opened mine. I am truly honored to know Nick and I am so proud of him for using the gift of writing to get his emotions out. I plan to do the same in the coming weeks.

 

Unplugging, Recharging, Updating – Undies Update Week of 3/29

I had to step away from social media for a bit this week. Unplugging is both a necessary and helpful thing for me when I feel swallowed by the anxiety and negativity others impart on me. For those of you who follow me, you’ve probably been privy to at least some of this negative wind garbage, and for that, I sincerely do apologize. This is the last I’m going to speak on the matter and I want to make sure I get absolutely everything off of my chest.

A good friend of mine, who happens to be a cosplayer and person I admire and trust, posted a status today that inspired this blog post. “If I cared about what people said about or to me as much as the rest of the cosplay community does, I would have killed myself by now.” This struck a chord with me completely. I won’t lie. These past few weeks have been by far the worst experience I’ve had with the local cosplay community as a whole. I’ve been so depressed and anxious, to the point that if I weren’t medicated and speaking to professionals, maybe I would have killed myself.

People may think the Internet is all cat pictures and dank memes, but the things I’ve seen about myself in the past two weeks on the Internet have both shocked and sickened me. I seriously laid in bed for about two days straight and sobbed, thinking about it. I was accused of perpetuating negativity, drama, and using my charity/activist endeavours to further my own gain.

I will say this much: I may overshare on the Internet. I only do this because I consider you guys my friends, and I want to be real with you. I’m also highly sensitive, and sometimes I react by posting or oversharing to an unprofessional point. I’m not saying this is right. I know that I have my issues. I’m not perfect. I’m a regular human. My defensive nature comes from years of bullying and mental abuse. When I feel threatened, my claws can come out. I know there are people I’ve hurt and pushed away that did not deserve it. For this, I am sorry. I can admit when I’m wrong.

However, to accuse me of things like “being fake” when I’m genuinely trying to reach out and mend a friendship or open up and share my feelings is sickening to me. How can you base your opinions of me off of the way I reacted to a situation in which I was treated SO poorly, I considered doing something drastic and harmful to myself? Clearly I was upset, my emotions were running high, and after being wronged time and time again by the same individual, I think I have the right to speak out and air my feelings without being accused of dumping my dirty laundry on people.

You don’t have to like me, or even believe me, but I’m a good person. I work hard to make connections in the convention community, not to further my own popularity or means, because this is not a job for me, but to try and help others so nobody has to feel the way I once did. Small, insignificant and alone. I want people to know that they can come to me with their problems and that I will be there for them. To spit on my charity work is also highly disrespectful to me. I was raised by a mother who always taught me to give back to my community in any way I can, and to share my talents for the good of others. I would NEVER use a charity event to further my own means.

To those of you who feel you need to “expose” me for the monster I am — I’m truly sorry you feel this way. If you have a problem with me, I really would like to talk it out with you and hear what you have to say. I guarantee you it’s either misinformation that has lead you to believe I’m this monstrous person, or a misunderstanding based off of how I’ve presented myself in the heat of these super emotional times. I’m willing to talk it out and, yes, even apologize if it calls for it. I’m many things– but unreasonable is not one of them.

For those of you who refuse to reach out and continue to hate on me, I’m choosing now to not let your words affect me. I feel sorry that you have this hatred or void in your hearts that causes you to not accept me. If you would take the time to get to know me, you would know I’m a compassionate person who just wants to make a good impression on this world. I could care less about my social standing — but I care about whether or not people think I’m a good person. Probably because of the aforementioned mental abuses I’ve had to endure that have made me believe otherwise for 3/4 of my life. I’ve worked so hard to love myself and it sucks that people would try and undo that just for their own sick gain.

Consider this a moratorium. I’m bidding adieu to the drama of [convention name redacted] and the people perpetuating this drama. I’m going to continue to hone my craft, to better myself in mind and body, and cosplay like there’s no tomorrow.

 

 

“Am I The Only Person Who’s Not Crazy?!” : The Distortion of the Cosplay Community

I know I’ve done a few blogs of this nature, such as my ‘Open Letter to the Cosplay Community’, but I felt a few things that I couldn’t express in any way besides blogging them out.  Let me paint you a quick picture of what my night was like last night. I sat on my couch, dazedly scrolling through Facebook while half-watching ‘Friends’ on Netflix, when I come across a post in a local cosplay group. I won’t state exactly what was going on in this thread, because I’m not trying to start issues or blow up anyone’s spot. But, to make a long story short, people were complaining about this one thing ad nauseum, and tempers started to flare. I sigh reflexively, prompting my boyfriend to ask me what was up, and I explained the day’s daily dose of drama. “Seriously, I’m starting to wonder if maybe I’m the only sane one in this community.”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt the same way.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other people, maybe even in my area, who feel this way. People who probably contribute to this problem might even feel this way, but that’s another thing entirely I won’t get into. If you’ve noticed an overwhelming cloud of negativity in our community as of late; you’re probably correct. The cosplay community has become over saturated with people who seem to LOOK for something to complain about, who need their ego’s fed at all times, who silently judge people for this or that whilst pretending to be “body positive” and “there for everyone”.

I really do my best to stay positive. However, it’s really hard when it seems like everyone wants to bring you down. It really has me wondering where it is we went wrong, here. Conventions have been around since the 1970s, so I’m imagining that it has to be a combination of things that have lead to such a drastic change in temperament of the community.

The Mainstreaming of Geekdom 

Geekdom as a whole is way more mainstream than it has ever been. You could pick up your remote, scroll through the channels at a super fast pace, and I guarantee you that 75% of what you’ll see are things that would otherwise have been considered obscure (ex: SHIELD, Arrow, a Star Wars commercial) or “ew nerdy” five years ago. It seems nerd is in these days and of course that over saturation leads to unsavory people interjecting themselves into the community.

Rise of Social Media – Hunger for COSfame

I don’t know WHY this is even a thing, but shit like this takes the “play” right out of cosplay. People seem more concerned with numbers than they are about putting out quality work. Or about having fun. Sometimes people approach me acting like a friend and not-so-subtly drop the bomb that they wish they could achieve what I have or would like to be brought along to a con with me. And I’m sorry to say, that’s not how it works. You don’t ride on someone’s coattails. Especially not someone like me, who busts her ass and does PR/Promotional/Event Planning work for these conventions in exchange for being able to hold panels about issues I REALLY care about. It’s not for popularity and it’s not a game to me. I want to help people and deliver content that REALLY matters. My likes are higher than they were a year ago, or even a month ago, yes, but it’s a direct result of that aforementioned hard work. I don’t just have a magic recipe to gain popularity. If you want advice from a PR/Social Media standpoint, that’s another story. Just don’t use me as a stepping stone for your bullshit.

Models Turned Cosplayers

I stand by my belief that literally anyone can cosplay whenever. But now that it’s becoming more mainstream, and models are using cosplay as a “niche” to gain a following and to acquire jobs. Once again, this is great and I love that our community is growing. However, some asshats seem to think model=cosplayer and if we don’t fit that archetype, we don’t belong and aren’t as good. Even though I’m a signed plus sized model, the word “model” is synonymous  for skinny, buxom and curves that aren’t exactly realistic. We just need to remember that the idea of cosplay is that it encompasses many different people of all walks of life and all body types. No one body type is better than another and we are all beautiful, no matter what size or race. 

Competitive Cosplay

I’ve never really competed seriously to the degree that they showed on “Heroes of Cosplay”, since I’m more about the big picture and don’t care much for people diminishing the work of others just to make themselves feel big. I’ve judged plenty of times (and for those people who like to act like I don’t have the credentials to judge sewing or craftsmanship because I hate to sew: I have a B.A in Theatre and grew up with a mother who immersed me in theatre and great grandmother who knew how to sew/taught me how to sew. I just HATE TO DO IT and I am much more inclined to commission pieces like that. I am always honest and forthcoming about where my cosplays come from. My specialties are painting and prop making and makeup. Craftsmanship is more than just sewing. So for those who want to pick on me…stop.) and I always take care to judge critically but kindly. People work HARD and just because 3-4 judges like one cosplay the best, doesn’t diminish someone else’s craft. Lately it feels like people are making EVERYTHING competitive. I ask: why? Seriously. It was so much more fun when people didn’t have their noses upturned at every single person all the time. People could do with a dose of humility. Even if you’re the best in your little local bubble — performing/auditioning/singing has made me realize that even if you think you’re the best, there’s always someone better and always room for improvement. The same goes for cosplay. It’s a learning curve. Nobody just starts at an AMAZING level. We’ve all had to hone our skills. So, if you think you’re the shit, just remember where you came from, because I can assure you that your first cosplay probably wasn’t the best either.

Personal Notes: I feel like lately the messages of positivity myself and the other members of COSUnity have been falling on deaf ears. It makes me wonder what the fuck I’m doing if I’m not making a difference. I work so hard to make the community a positive place and it’s been feeling like I always get treated like shit and dragged through the mud. It’s really depressing. I won’t lie — through a lot of the recent drama, there have been times where it’s taken a huge toll on my well being. I feel so alone in this sometimes. I feel like people are constantly saying rude things about me. I’m so tired of defending myself. I do good things for this community but it almost feels like it’s never enough.

My plea to the community once more is to really reflect on yourselves and think about how your actions affect others. It’s really not okay to treat people wrongly and it’s sad that a hobby that was once an escape for me and many others is going to such shit.

Did I get all of the variables leading to the distortion of the cosplay community? Share with me your thoughts, please.

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