Cosplay. Otherwise known as “Costume Play”. It is a hobby that has become quite popular in the anime community for quite some time now. If you were to step into a convention, you would instantly see one or more people dressed up as their favorite characters. Whether it is a comic book character, or someone from an anime, anytime a fan has an opportunity to dress up and look like the character they love, they will do it. Some have even created a job out of it!
Sadly, as everything does, cosplay has a rather toxic dark side to it. A side where bullying and trolling run wild. It comes in all kinds of forms too. Whether it is body shaming, how “correct” the cosplay looks, it comes in all kinds. And it’s very hurtful. Because of this “Cos-Bullying” Cosplay is slowly becoming more elitist, and less of a fun hobby that fans can do. Everyone is worried that they will be judged for dressing up as their favorite character because there has been so much hatred flying around these days thanks to bullies and Trolls. Lets take a look at some of their favorite tactics shall we?
This is the most common type of toxicity that flies around the cosplay community. For example, if someone wanted to cosplay Lola (Bugs Bunny’s girlfriend) but, they aren’t a tiny little stick like she is (come on people she is a cartoon!) They would find numerous comments either in a convention or on their social media–if they posted pictures of them in it, Saying things like the following:
- “You look nothing like her.”
- “Loose some weight.”
- “Why did you even bother with this cosplay?”
And that’s just some of the comments. People can get way meaner. Some have even gone as far as harassing them and occasionally sending death threats. This doesn’t happen just for girls either. Bullies and Trolls like going after guys too. If they aren’t as “fit” as the character they are portraying they’ll will tear into them just as equally.
The thing is, the Trolls and Bullies won’t just attack them just because they aren’t the “correct body type” they will tear into them just because they are bored. It’s a sad, sad thing that they will do that to them. Cosplay is not about having the right body type for the cosplay, it’s about having fun and giving homage to your favorite characters.
Black Face: Enhancing or exaggerating your features and color of skin to represent another race usually in a offensive way.
This definition above is the definition of Black Face. What cosplayers do is using toners or types of make up to TAN their skin. They do not do it in a racially charged way. They simply slightly darken their NATURAL features. What the description is saying is the ones who do use Black Face exaggerate their features for an aim of racism or offending someone.
This is a form of bullying I have been seeing lately in the cosplay community. For example, I recently saw a cosplayer doing a cosplay of Storm from X-Men. Specifically the Halley Barry version. She used a mixture of bronzer and a natural skin toner. Not make-up that exaggerates her features in any shape or form. She posted the picture, and even though it looked absolutely amazing, she was bullied, harassed and accused of using Black Face.
This is not okay. People should know the difference of Black Face and just using your basic, everyday beauty projects to help you pay better homage to the character. This is stemming from a mindset of ignorance and just plain meanness.
This is another form of Cos-bullying that fans in the cosplay world are familiar with. Thankfully though, this isn’t as predominate the other two forms. What Bullies and Trolls do with this form of harassment is they take a look at a cosplay and try and nit pick at whatever they can find on the cosplay. Whether it is sleeve length, color, props anything they can grab at. This is what contributes to cosplay elitism as well.
Why they do it and what can be done.
Now that you know more about Cos-bullying and some of the main tactics used, let’s have a look at why the Trolls and Bullies do what they do and what can be done to put a stop to this toxicity.
People usually bully for two main reasons: Ignorance and/or insecurity. Those who are ignorant pick on things that they “think” they know about. For example those who harass cosplayers about supposedly using Black Face or are trying to make a statement to help others through their cosplay. They completely miss the point on what the cosplayer is trying to achieve and make assumptions about what they don’t know themselves. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to these kinds of things. It’s better to be informed properly, than to make a mean assumption on what you don’t know and hurt another for it.
The other reason for bullying: insecurity. People who are unsure of themselves often pick on others doing what they love because they themselves are too scared or unsure to try it out themselves.
They hide behind their insecurities and feel like if they belittle or harass others they will somehow make themselves bigger and more confident. That by making others feel small will fix their own problem. But they are wrong. Insecurity and hate just breeds more of the same until we have a viscous cycle going.
So what exactly can we do to fix this problem? It’s simple really. If you see a cosplayer getting bullied, speak up. Defend them. Or at least offer a helping hand and make them feel like what the Troll/Bully said is just blatant lies. Build them up instead of knocking them down.
Another thing that we can do to bring an antidote so to speak is awareness. By awareness, I mean educate ourselves in what is right and wrong and bring back the thought that nothing and no one is perfect. Cosplaying stemmed from love of the fans. It should be brought back to that. Because at the very heart of it, we cosplay because we love an anime/comic/ what ever fandom. It doesn’t matter what body type, skin type, materials or anything. What matters is that you love what you do. If we can come back to that and realize this again, that is when cosplay will lose it’s toxicity and come back to what we, as nerds, loved about it in the first place. Expressionism.
What do you guys think? I want to hear your opinions. Do you have any experiences with Cos-bullying? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!