"IT'S NOT ME, IT'S YOU" - FIRST-WORLD PROBLEMS AND BOUGHT COSTUMES
*insert sigh sound and rolling eyes here* Now normally I would avoid getting involved in whatever cosplay drama that mutates from the often lovely community these days, but it comes to a point where the amount of stupidity I see cannot be resolved with ignorance. These issues are never directly targeted towards me; I just sit at the sidelines and watch the squabble, and I'm so sick of this first-world pettiness that I just gotta speak my mind before I snap.
When you strip it down to it's innocent core, cosplay is a simple and inclusive hobby. No matter your gender, sexuality, race, colour, shape, size, ability, skills or limitations, it's an inviting scene where you can dress up as your favourite hero for the day and forget the rest of the world exists. I, like others, used cosplay to feel stronger in a time when I was horridly bullied and was going through many personal issues that seemed out of control. Dressing up got rid of all that baggage and made me feel like I could take on the horde. You're encouraged to make your own costumes and props from scratch to test your skills and teach others your tricks, however there's an ever-growing market with pre-made cosplays readily available or artists ready to make something more personal. Cosplay competitions push us to be better designers and better actors, with worldwide championships and company endorsements enticing us to reach that podium. But with the rise of popularity, cosplay - like everything that has bright lights shone on it - has some really dark shadows that few like to talk about openly. With competition and innovation comes a cesspool of vanity and intolerance that everyone will get a taste of, whether you're a victim of it or you're involved in it. You're a real piece of shit if you're the latter.
One big issue as of late is the endorsement of cosplayers who look spot-on to their characters and have it "easier" than others to get notoriety. To some, if you buy your costumes while you have a following, if you're attractive, or you have an aura that makes you inviting, you're a piece of shit. Yes, they have so little to complain about in their first-world countries that it's come to petty high school squabble to keep themselves entertained.
People assume that if you have x amount of followers, then you absolutely must make 100% of everything you make and I find this mindset extremely shallow. Now I make practically everything I wear, pouring out my wallet and skipping precious hours of sleep just to slave away on a project. I put so much work and blood and tears into everything I do, and I'm proud to have these skills..... But I chose to do all this. Nobody forced me to do what I do. And these days if I find something that will save me time and money I'll buy the bloody thing.
If you're being honest that you didn't make something, that's 100% fine. Keep doing your thing. You have no reason to explain to anyone why you buy your shit. Whether you have little or no time to make what you want because life is uncontrollable that way, you like the convenience, or you're completely unsure where to start, it doesn't matter. Buy, buy, buy. And if you can wear a bought costume and make it look ten times better than the monstrosity I slaved over, you've put me in my place.
It's not just the costume that makes a "cosplay", anyway. It's the brilliant makeup, acting, posture, and charisma you bring that makes you slip into the role. People forget this part while they got their fingers in their ears.
Their generic lines of defense.....
"But I spent years and years making my costumes and nobody notices me! I deserve the attention!" "But I spent so much money on expensive materials to make this!" "It doesn't take talent to look like a celebrity" "They're not a REAL cosplayer like I am" "She's only popular because she has her tits hanging out in everything" "He/She's only got a pretty face, it on't last very long. Their 15 minutes will be up soon!"
.... take it away, chef Ramsay.
Nobody cares that you used the essence of dragon tears to paint your rare spider silk gown while you danced on the edge of Kathmandu at the same time. If you've got an ugly personality, you got an ugly costume. Let that sink into your cold, dead heart.
It's not only the construction of the outfit that will get people to notice you. Having a good figure and an engaging personality are extremely important in the entertainment industry. We're attracted to pretty things, after all. But sometimes, it's just pure luck. Whether a certain cosplayer made or perfectly wore a costume from a series that's trending, the people they collaborate with help to bring in a bigger audience, or The Force had something to do with it. But these moments of fame should always come with humility, and this will guarantee your reputation in the long run. If you have little recognition and already have a bad attitude, why would people praise your work? How are you a positive role model? Are you only cosplaying to be popular to begin with?
Alot of this boils down to just that - popularity. They want the attention. They want the invitations. They want the money. Oh, I can't talk because I have 260k followers and I hand-make everything? I'm still poor earning a basic wage, I still have many new things to learn, and I acknowledge that if Facebook shut down tomorrow, very few people would give a shit about my whereabouts. I've made mistakes and have learned. I appreciate every opportunity I get because one day, they'll probably stop - by my own choice or not. I'm a human being. We all are. But! If you're cosplaying for the numbers, you're not a cosplayer. If you attack others over the pettiest little things, you're not a cosplayer. If you do not positively contribute to the community in any shape or form, you're not a cosplayer. Getting the hint yet?
You're. The. Problem.
When I judge at conventions, I've noticed a trend. The people who made their costumes seem more miserable than those who have bought. They're judging themselves critically far more than other people would even consider; they're already angry at the other person ahead of them for their outfit; with their insecurity comes along this massive ego. The buyers just seem content, happy with their purchase and getting along with the day like it's any other. THAT'S cosplay. Being happy is not hard. All costumes are welcome. Ignore the hate. Keep things simple.
I really hope this "Bought vs Make" and body-shaming comes to an end, but I don't think it ever will. Some people were born horrible. But if you notice this behavior and believe it is unacceptable, stand up against it. Be the light. Join the rest of the community who love what they do, and don't fear being alone - there's an army of us, and we're not going anywhere. I'd like to consider that the cosplay scene is so good these days, that the only thing negative people can do it nitpick at the tiny things, which only makes them look imbecilic.