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.”

 

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

Reflecting Back : Moving On and Moving Out

I said I’d be getting more personal with this blog, which may be a good or bad thing, I’m not sure, but I love writing and I’m doing this for me more than for my cosplay related stuff and to promote myself. I said in an earlier post that I keep journals regularly and I stumbled across an old entry dated March 2014, and realized that this week marks my 2nd year living here in Albany, NY.  It has honestly FLOWN by, I can’t believe I’ve lived upstate for two years. For those of you who don’t know, my “Just a Girl from Brooklyn” is more than a Captain America reference, I was born and raised there and have lived there for most of my life (barring my time in Orlando where I worked in the Disney College Program, but that’s a blog for another time, kids). What caused this spark and change in me to leave my childhood home? Well, I think all of that’s kind of way too personal for this blog, but let’s just say I had a need to get out of the city for my mental piece of mind.

Moving out of the city was honestly the best thing I’ve ever done.

People poke fun at me when I tell them I’m originally from Brooklyn, with the jabs ranging from “Ew, why?” to “Don’t you miss real pizza?” (The answer to the latter is YES, and is honestly the only thing besides family that I miss on a daily basis, but I digress.) But, I honestly love it here. People here don’t (usually) scare me, it’s much cleaner and actually affordable. But living at home until I got married just wasn’t for me. I knew I couldn’t do the long distance thing, from prior experience, it may work for others but it’s simply not for me. And when I first visited Albany and got to know what it was like in my boyfriend’s neck of the woods, I knew this is where I wanted to be. Chris and I discussed it and we thought, financially and all, that it wouldn’t make sense for us to have two separate apartments, and thought we could definitely make living together work.

The catch, and the thing that shocked most of my Brooklyn friends and family members, was at the time I’d moved up here, we were only together for 4 months at the time. Yes, it definitely widened some eyes, and perhaps 4 months is a bit too soon to move in with a significant other, but it just made the most logical and financial sense for both of us. I won’t lie: it was the furthest thing from easy. Coming to a place where I didn’t know ANYONE except those people I was introduced to by my boyfriend and his family (who, by the way, massive credit to them, because without them I wouldn’t have lasted two seconds without friends or a car)  was jarring in a sense. It hit me way later that I really didn’t have much of a life. I secured one job for myself, and at first, held a total of 3 jobs when I first came here, because I was really adamant about not receiving help from family, who at first, were not too happy about my choice to move in with someone who was kind of a stranger to them. And I don’t blame them for that in the slightest. It was pretty sudden of a move to them, but they did support the decision since they knew I would achieve the piece of mind I needed.

I would be lying if I said it was easy for me. It was a hard decision to make. But I knew I didn’t want to be that kid who relied on their parents for everything and I knew the only way I could figure out who I was as a person was to get out there on my own and experience new things. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brooklyn. I love my friends I have there but it just wasn’t enough for me to stay there. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford my own place and the job market out there was just really unwelcoming. Hard times financially took a toll and it was a hard rut to get out of. Add that on top of first apartment shopping, moving in with a significant other and getting used to living with a BOY…all huge changes.

A friend of mine recently brought up my move and asked how I did it…and the answer is, I’m really not sure. I don’t know how I managed to even survive. But I did, and I keep on surviving! When I look back to where I was when I started out here, and how my life is today, I’m honestly really proud of myself. Even with my anxiety issues I was able to push through and make this all work. Of course I had some help, but I’m so proud of the fact that I did something for myself. I spent so much of my life trying to please others and it was such an eye opening experience realizing that not EVERYTHING I do needs to be done with others in mind. I knew I was done driving myself crazy just so other people could have peace of mind. I deserved piece of mind and I’m honestly so lucky I got it.

Moral of the story kiddos: Change can be scary, but ultimately necessary in order to grow as a person. Even though I’ve made mistakes, I’m so glad I have support and that I live in a place where I can be free of the negativity of the past. I was given the opportunity to start over fresh and create the life I wanted for myself and I can honestly say I live a much happier life. Do YOU and make sure you’re living the life you want to be.