Darker Side of Cosplay... :: Cosplay Mayhem P5
Sadly, for every five people who are cosplaying for the fun of it, there is that person who is cosplaying to be superior or, worse yet, who don't cosplay and just want to make fun of those who do. Now we all know that people have choices in life; they can like cosplay, they can hate it, but going to the extent of making up websites just to bash those who are slightly "off" on their costume is just plain mean. Unfortunately, it goes with the territory, and there isn't much to do besides develop nerves of steel.
… and you'll need those nerves of steel when you run into the big hairy man in a little tiny skirt. But more on that later.
Costume Accuracy and Choosing Fabrics
There are always going to be people judging you on every little detail related to your costume. Most people are nice enough not to say it, but competition can get fierce at cons, and you need to be ready to deal with petty backstabbing. You haven't seen drama like this since the high school cafeteria.
Now, some cosplayers are just casual costume makers who care more about the fact that you recognize the character than that they got every little detail right. Some are lazy, and some just don't want to learn how to make real armor and figure foam will do instead. There isn't anything wrong with not having a "perfect" costume, but you have to accept that there will be those that find fault with it.
Unfortunately, there are sites and blogs out there that will rag on anyone who doesn't fit the perfect image of a cosplayer. They don't tend to pick on the small mistakes as much, if you don't have the right wig color or whatever (though probably someone will notice and comment), but if you dare to cosplay Slayers' Naga and you're overweight, you might well be a target for them.
Another point on costume accuracy is the fabrics that you choose. I've seen some neat costumers that added in extra detail, like choosing a more watery fabric for Sailor Mercury's blue or a detailed scroll print on a medieval dress. Those kind of changes can add to the character, as long as they fit into the idea of the outfit. On the other hand, I saw some cosplayers who used fancy Chinese fabrics for some Naruto costumes and, well, I don't even watch Naruto, and I immediately knew how out-of-the-norm the costumes were. I later saw the two cosplayers' pictures on one of the "cosplayers suck" type websites.
The moral of the story is, be aware when you are deviating from the accepted costume design or making odd fabric choices. Someone will pick up on it, though most will be too polite to say anything, but other cosplayers do notice.
Art by Joe Blank
Have you heard of Man Faye? Cardcaptor Will? Sailor Bubba? Have you noticed men in tight skirts and women with large bulges?
Crossplay is the term for this growing obsession for dressing as the other gender. Now, when a woman dresses like a guy, we hardly bat an eye. As a society, we're used to it. But when it's a man dressed as a woman, we all have to turn and stare, fascinated, and wonder: "Did I just see what I think I saw? … Nah… … On second thought, I guess I did."
For a while, it seemed like guys would only dress as Vash or Alucard, someone manly and worthy of their time. Lately though, guys have realized that if they are pretty, and dress as a bishounen, they will have girls fawning all over them.
Crossplay covers all these situations, but it's still the guy in the short shorts that makes us stop and stare. Girls dressing as boys has become a norm for anime conventions, as many characters (Xellos from Slayers is a classic example) are often seen as too feminine (or flaming) in personality for boys to dress as. Therefore a guy dressing as some of these characters (James from Pokemon is yet another example) is often far more shocking than a girl dressed as these boys.
So women will just have to try harder to shock and amaze. Hence, long discussions on proper bulge stuffing.
And thus, with that image in mind, we end our discussion of cosplay. Next time I'll be talking about explaining anime to your parents and some various gateway animes that might just get them hooked. Plus, for any otaku parents out there, later on there will be tips on making conventions fun for the whole family, from infants to teenagers.