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.”