Over the past few years as I build my costume portfolio more and more, I get more and more comments here and there (whether they’re online or in person) about my likeliness of a certain character I am cosplaying.
I’m gonna say this right now… STAHP IT! Whether it’s a praise or negative comment – cosplay should not have this singular importance of your likeliness of a character. And I think that’s an issue that’s been arising that I would really like to address right here and now.
And it’s not just myself – literally every single cosplayer I know or am a fan of, receives these comments too. And while it has some amazing self-esteem boosting points to hear that you look just like a certain character as you cosplay them — it can also be equally as discouraging to hear why you don’t look like a certain character and why you should not cosplay them. It levels back to self-esteem in the end for a lot of us, and even though these comments may not be malicious in most cases and should always be taken with a grain of salt like most things… the nature of where the note comes from is extremely important.
I’m going to get a little personal with this one now, and a little more specific. While both my Zatanna and Mary Jane Watson costumes received the same amount of support and positive attention… the nature of the two was pretty drastically different in some cases. I’ve been told that I was a wonderful Zatanna because I’m a natural “dark-brunette” and have the same sort of toned physical structure as her. Which at the time, was such a fantastic thing to hear. It’s when I cosplayed more specifically different characters and using wigs like with my Mary Jane costume, that I received my first couple comments on how I should not be cosplaying this specific character. There were notes on how my skin was lightened in a photo shoot and I couldn’t pull off being a red-head and while those comments, in all honesty, didn’t stop me from wearing the “costume” — it really made me think about comments like these, in far more malicious circumstances, directed at other cosplayers like myself.
So please, next time you feel the need to comment on a photo or tell a cosplayer why they do or don’t match the character in your eyes — please think about why they’re cosplaying that character in the first place. Probably because they admire and adore the character. And hey, don’t you, too? Be mindful of your words. Cosplay is a world for us to be anyone we want to be. Don’t take that privilege away from it.