Choice of Cosplay: Were you asking for it?

7 min read

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eva-guy01's avatar
Cross posted from my Multiply and Liveju blogs.

Disclaimer: A lot of you know me in the cosplay community, and some of you might think that my words may represent the community or organization im involved in.  These thoughts are my own based from my own observation.  Blame anyone else and ill just laugh at your expense.  Thanks.</i>

Bear with me for adding another thought regarding the cosplay scene, i cant help it if certain issues or stories end up quite thought provoking.

Stories of cosplayers being harassed by some spectators are the common buzz in the community recently, and it had me thinking, what provoked these people to commit such actions that are considered unappropriate by the cosplayers themselves?

There are already tips and suggestions focused towards the audience on how to treat cosplayers. Now in this blog, id like to attempt to give focus on the other side of the spectrum: us.

Honestly, there are times that our actions and choice of appearance do make us prime targets of harassment (intentional or unintentional), even when you say its because you did it for the art, for cosplay or for the lulz (fun).

What im trying to make out in this blog is to answer WHY it happens to us, and what goes on in the mind of some con-goers, perhaps to instill some understanding that even if what they do seem blatantly wrong, we might consider how they came to be that way.

I'll start with the most obvious.

Lets face it, fantasizing a character is a two way street when you cosplay.  Cosplayers wanted to be that dreamy (read: bishie) character, while spectators would want to be WITH their dream character.  Being in public means you are highly accessible to people who would want to stand beside you and be taken a picture. Some may forget that you are NOT that character, just somebody PRETENDING to be one, and who just happens to look very much alike.  

Some of us forget that con-goers know the characters you cosplay, and will sometimes treat that character the same way they see on DVD.  Yes, i know the drill: This is not TV! Ah but you forget, THIS IS COSPLAY! Cosplay a cat-like character, and chances are you will be patted on the head by an over-enthusiastic fan.  Cosplay a character that gets hugged all the time in the anime, and you WILL be hugged by con-goers who would love to replicate that particular scene.  Sure it may sound stupid and socially inept, but we often forget that an anime con IS a gathering of anime otakus (like us!) who feel that they are in their own world or territory, in which we all enjoy each other's fandom.  So in a way, they expect you to be hugged, because the character in the anime did so, no matter how much you verbally abuse/remind them for violating your private space.

That should be common sense to any cosplayer who would think of attempting to cosplay sexy or revealing characters.  True otakus will recognize the nature of your revealing characters and may want to you act out the role.  Just like what i mentioned earlier, you will inherit the role of the character, and if your character is a foxy temptress who likes to caress every male or female she desires, they will expect you to act it out, even if you think its beyond irrational.  This is especially true with characters who are known to be ecchi, who are famous for particular quirks like cleavage or panty shots.  So if you want to get into that role, be ready for the consequences.    

I can attest to this personally.  During Anime Quest 1 back in 2001, i cosplayed a hentai character, particularly a Shikima Demon Lord, complete with all the variable "appendages".  It was painted green of course and not flesh colored to mask its scandalous nature, but die hard otakus recognized me on the spot.  And they played with my appendages to the point that it was already bordering harassment.  One even took a tentacle and tried to shove it in my mouth, in which i told him sternly it wasnt funny anymore.  But later i realized later i brought it all to myself.  A hentai character will be treated as such.  I should have known that.  Sure it was fun to be in a costume as controversial as hentai, but do not go raging over the acts of some people who think of you as that character.  You would have to be patient with them, keep reminding them that you are still a person inside that hentai shell.

Kids who will poke, pull, push, punch, kick, step, grab and even try to ride you.  Because of the fact that you are that invincible war machine they saw on TV.  This is much worse then getting the attention of a teen or grown-up fan, because you cannot shout at the kids nor push them roughly aside without having an angry mob of parents and relatives beat the crap out of you.

If there is anything i'd like to say to all crossdressers out there, is that you all have a long way to go to convince the general populace that what you do is not related to being a homosexual (this is assuming that you're straight and you were paying homage to a character opposite of your sex), because the practice of dressing up as the opposite gender (and wanting to be one) has been as old as civilization itself.  Crossdressers will become targets of ridicule and will be subjected with harassment from their same gender.  Male crossdressers will be surrounded by men who would do things in public that would be unthinkable if done with a girl: holding the shoulders, their hands, their waists, kiss their cheeks and yes, even mash their fake boobs. Same with the female crossplayers and their equally rumbustious female fans.  Some will automatically think that if you crossdress, you are "game" with anything they can image you can do, since you had the guts to wear a skirt or wear tight bandages to imitate a flat chest. You would have to practice a lot in saying "no" without having to end up in a fist fight.

So what is the lesson im trying to say here?  That we cosplayers should bow to the whim of these con-goers with their irrational behaviour and lack of common sense and decency?  

No. That in itself is lack of common sense.  

What im trying to say here is that the behavior you've witnessed the day you started cosplaying has a reason, and its probably the same reason why you cosplayed in the first place: because you love the character.  You have given them (the average con-goer) the opportunity by bringing alive a character that used to be trapped behind a TV or computer screen, and they would want that experience to be memorable.  So what we should do, while we remind them of their actions, is to understand those very actions as well and why they happen.  

The choice of cosplay you make is also your own responsibility.
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Katrinava's avatar
I will really keep this in mind! I'm pretty young and I'd like to crossplay so I'll just be on the lookout.