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.

“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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Your Friendly Neighborhood Mary-Jane Watson : A Costume SuperCenter Review

At FantaCon I was lucky enough to portray one of my favorite Marvel cosplays — Mary Jane Watson, aka Peter Parker’s girlfriend. I thought it would be cute to cosplay her in a Spidey Suit, since I’ve seen some fanart picturing her as such. Naturally, when I go looking for ready to order costumes, I look no further than my friends at CostumeSupercenter.com. In cosplay, the “storebought vs handmade” debate is always present, but my opinion is — who cares? You can buy a costume, alter it, and make it as awesome as something that you made from scratch.

This particular suit was the ‘Spiderman Second Skin’ advertised on their site. When I first recieved the costume, it had a mask directly attached to the costume. I cut the head off — as to get rid of the mask, but made a huge OOPS, not realizing that it zippered all the way up to the top of the head. As a result of this, I broke the whole zipper and it fell apart. So, after panicking for 15 minutes, I made the super smart choice to message my amazing friend Elphingirl Designs who calmed my crazy butt down and told me she’d replace the zipper.

Once my zipper drama was solved, I decided to wear this on Sunday of FantaCon here in Albany, where I was a guest and co-sponsor of the costume contest (along with CostumeSupercenter.com, actually!) and I got SO many compliments on the outfit. I loved the fit. I wore it with a layer of Spanx and it held me in very nicely. Spanx are kind of necessary when you’re plus sized and wear spandex, especially the thin kind like on this bodysuit! I really liked the material it was made from, it was soft and very comfortable. When posing for this shoot, I did some crazy bending maneuvers and this suit was able to withstand that, so I think it was made very well.

I’ll definitely be wearing this costume again, and overall I would rate it as my new favorite piece from Costume SuperCenter! Goes to show you that even if you don’t have time to make a costume, you can still look amazing! Go check out CostumeSuperCenter.com for more awesome costumes that you can rock at cons, they have a great selection of videogame, comics and other nerd-like costumes for you to wear.

Stay tuned for my next CSC review — when Batgirl is debuted at New York Comic Con this year!

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TRINACRIA PHOTOGRAPHY – Vincent Giordano.

A Review For You : HELLOOOOOOO NURSE! [Costume SuperCenter]

Hello my lovelies! I’ve been meaning to post up this blog for a while but life got in the way. I’m not sure if any of you guys were aware, but I’m sponsored by the lovely people at Costume SuperCenter, and they were kind enough to send me an awesome costume that I used to shoot my crazy Nurse Harley with Kevin over at IModelZone Magazine.

One of the main reasons I was so stoked to team up with the guys at CSC was because I was noticing a lot of turmoil within the cosplay community as a whole about ‘storebought costumes’. While I can understand from a competition perspective how store bought costumes can be frustrating to those competing, I find nothing wrong with purchasing versus making your own costumes. Not all Halloween costumes are poorly made, and this one from CSC proves that! I loved the material, it was super comfy. Another reason I love Costume SuperCenter is because they have such a large selection of plus sized costumes, which a lot of sites sorely lack. Normally, searching for plus sized costumes online is like, “What? You mean you DON’T want to wear a gigantic burlap sack?” But the CSC website has tons of cute costumes for us curvier chicks. This costume made my curves look awesome and showed a respectable amount of cleavage without being trashy! The only thing that bothered me was that it was short — but hey, nothing a pair of spandex booty shorts won’t remedy. I also would have liked an actual hat as opposed to the head piece, but I love the way the headpiece looks!

I hope to use this costume again for a Silent Hill Nurse in the future — thank you so much Costume SuperCenter friends for making this possible!

You can find them on Facebook and on their website, CostumeSupercenter.com!

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Things Nobody Tells You About Being A Cosplayer : A N00b’s Guide to the Cosplay Lifestyle

For us seasoned veterans, some of these things may seem like no brainers, but for those who are new to cosplaying or are strangers to the hobby, some of these things may come as a surprise. Since my family and friends ask me a ton of questions about my hobby, I thought an article of this nature would be helpful to explain certain aspects of cosplay, and that others could share this with others and a ton of people could benefit from it! How many things surprised you, my non-cosplaying friends? How many things on this list have you been asked by “muggles”, my cosplay pals?

Cosplay Can Be Expensive!

poisonivyforest

Many people unfamilar with cosplay don’t realize how much money goes into these costumes. I know I have to budget in order to be able to afford big projects I am working on. A lot of family or friends outside of the cosplay world who I’ve spoken to about my costumes are frankly shocked that you can’t just buy some things, and you have to make them with expensive supplies.

No, We Cannot/Will Not Make You a Free Costume for Halloween…

While I’m flattered that people think I’m good enough at my costuming that I can pump out creations all the time, that is definitely NOT the case. I don’t even really sew, exceptions being small hand-stitches here and there. As I said in the previous point, so much time and money goes into making these costumes, and taking on commissions for free is just simply not an option. And no, you also cannot borrow any of my cosplays to go get drunk in on Halloween. I am not a costume rental shop!

Cosplaying at Conventions Can Be Physically and Emotionally Draining…

We all love the attention we receive as cosplayers at conventions, and while we love posing for photos and stopping to talk about our costume, sometimes it can be exhausting. Although I’m a social person, I need to step out of cons and take a breather sometimes because it can all get really overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many times I just feel like I’m about to die because my plastic boned corset is attacking my ribcage, but I’m smiling like a champ through photos and conversations. Every cosplayer has had that frustrating moment where they’ve just sat down to eat their first meal of the day, or to rest their blistered feet, and is approached with a sheepish smile and asked for a photo. We feel like assholes saying no, so we’ll stand up and take a photo, but secretly, we want to murder you slowly.

It’s Not Adult Dress-Up or Some Sexy Kink Thing…I Promise.

Photo by Imodelzone Magazine
Photo by Imodelzone Magazine

I don’t know why people think it’s a dirty thing, I literally for the life of me do not understand how I get this question more than every other question. Cosplay is anything but that. I promise you, I’m not a secret porn star. And it’s so much more than just playing dress up. Many cosplayers do charity events in costumes. They  treat it as art, and it’s borderline offensive to refer to it as “goofing around in costume.” Even if we do goof around in costume!

Not Every Cosplayer Enters Competitions…

I’ve never entered a serious competition in my life. For me, it would take some of the joy I find in costuming out of it. I get anxious when I feel like I’m being judged, which you LITERALLY are judged in costume contests. A lot of people who assume every cosplayer competes have become acquainted with the popular SyFy show ‘Heroes of Cosplay’, which has largely brought cosplay to the mainstream world. However, competitive cosplay is just one small faction of the entire community.

Cosplayers Are Everywhere!

Us cosplayers attend conventions all over the place. Some cosplayers can taut themselves as “International Cosplayers” because they’ve been to cons in Canada, Puerto Rico, and even Mexico! There are tons of cons, not just ‘Comic Con’ in San Diego and ‘New York Comic Con’ in Manhattan. Cons come in all shapes and sizes!

Some People Can Even Make a Living By Cosplaying…

From Yaya Han’s Official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/yayacosplay

Yep, you read that right, newbs. Some people even make money off the hobby. Some talented seamstresses and propmakers run shops where they take commissions from cosplayers from all over the place. Yaya Han, one of the most notable cosplayers, has her own shop where she sells everything from cute wings, to wigs, to costuming materials such as Worbla, a thermoplastic. Other cosplayers get paid to appear at certain booths at conventions, or to speak at different events. Still think it’s adult dress up? Didn’t think so.

Cosplay is For Everyone!

 harleylaydown

Sadly, this is something that sometimes we need to explain to both cosplayers and non-cosplayers alike. It’s not a hobby purely for “hot models” or “people who fit the characters”. It’s for everyone. Everyone reserves the right to re-imagine characters they love into a form that makes them feel comfortable. Screen accuracy is cool and all, but that’s not the main objective. The most important thing is having fun! And literally anyone at any time could take up the hobby. Your skill grows as you keep doing it. So why not? Come join the dark side!

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An Open Letter to the Cosplay Community

Dear Cosplay Community,

I hate to generalize, because I consider myself to be a pretty positive person in the sense that I always see the best in people, but lately, you’ve been kind of a dick.

After months and months of anonymous and, well, not anonymous messages of hate, I finally deleted my Tumblr page. Anyone who’s been following me for a bit knows about the problems I’ve had and how cruel people can be behind the guise of their computer screens. And sadly, that’s to be expected. But the problem I have with the cosplay community as of late goes deeper than any anonymous hate messages on Tumblr.

I’ve seen articles tearing into “famous cosplayers”, scrutinizing their every action, their bodies, speculating upon whether or not they’ve had breast reduction or augmentation done. I’ve seen GoFundMe pages where cosplayers essentially demand things of their “fans”, anything from bigger breasts to “get them farther in life and in the cosplay community”, to money to buy costume pieces and to fund convention trips for them. I’ve seen the articles tearing THOSE people apart. Criticisms. Judgement.  And yes, I do consider myself guilty for judging quite a few cosplayers based off of these articles, or how they appeared on a reality show (which the majority of is STAGED).

I’ve received rejection a number of times this year. From different cosplay groups (some charity organizations), for “not looking the part” of characters. Flat out rejection from conventions who have told me that I’m not good enough to be a guest at their events, because I don’t have a ridiculous amount of Facebook likes, I’m not “sexy” enough, et cetera. And before I get any judgements from anyone over this: I’m not whining because I wasn’t invited to events. I’m whining because I don’t care about going to a billion cons to spread my face around, to gain likes or fans. I apply to be a guest at these conventions so I can tell my story. To tell other guys and girls with my body type or who may be insecure about themselves for whatever reason that it’s OKAY to cosplay. To spread a positive message.

But in today’s cosplay community, that doesn’t matter. I’m not a fame hungry cosplayer. I never have been. I just want to have fun.

That’s what cosplay meant, once. It means, literally ‘costume play’. PLAY. As in playing around in costume. Doesn’t that mean anything to anyone anymore?

With the holidays coming up, and in the spirit of the New Year, I’m calling the entire community out. I want you all to think about how you come across as a person. Are you nice to other people? Are you even having fun cosplaying? If the answers to  those questions are anything but YES…you are the problem with this community.

I stress the word community as well. That’s what this was once. A community. A group of people who were accepting of one another. Now, it’s about exclusion and elitism. I want the old community back. The ones that opened their arms and welcomed me to this little nerd haven. Not the humiliation and rejection I’ve been experiencing as of late.

Wake up, cosplayers. Start supporting positive cosplayers, and just weed out the negative few. Don’t share their negativity. Don’t even engage it. Just…ignore it. Maybe we still have a chance at saving our community.

Your friend, Undiesofwondy..