As cosplayers, we deal with quite a bit of stress. We spend hours looking for or drafting the right patterns, search through mountains of fabric to find just what we need. We slave away over sewing machines and props tables, pricking fingers on pins, battling resin, sanding, sewing, painting, throwing temper tantrums and rage quitting before coming back and finishing things up. Then there are fittings, wig stylings, make up trial runs… figuring out how you’re going to get your costumes and props to cons. Fixing last-minute disasters, averting crisis after crisis. And we do this all for fun (go figure, eh?). We do it because we love the characters, we love the challenge, and we love the response we get from con-goers. (Because let’s be honest, if we didn’t like the attention, we wouldn’t wear what we create or have commissioned out in public.) We put in all this hard work and money and time working on or having something made. We feel proud of ourselves and we go out in costume and have fun! …So how do we react when someone throws out a negative comment?
In the last few months, I’ve seen an upsurge in the amount of trolling of cosplayers’ pictures, from Facebook to 4Chan. Anything seems to be “fair game.” And it’s hard not to chime in with a rebuttal, especially when the insults being flung are aimed at you or a friend. The first one that ever really bothered me was posted to a picture a well-known comic writer took of me at a Wizard World event I attended as Emma Frost. The commenter stated that “Emma Frost needed to lay off the frosting.” I saw the comment because I had not only been tagged in the post, but I had already left my comment on it as well. Unsure of how to handle the situation, I did what I thought was right: I defended myself. I know I have never been nor will I ever be the skinniest girl in the group. While short, I’m by no means little, and I’ve had my battles with my weight. I said that I was very proud of myself for having lost enough weight to be able to feel comfortable donning the costume to begin with. Thoroughly embarrassed that his comment had been seen, the response was met with a sincere apology and a friend request. But not every troll turns around.
I cannot tell you how many pictures I have seen that have just AWFUL comments attached to them. And while I am fairly good at not throwing insults back, it gets harder when it’s about someone you know because you don’t want to see them hurt. So I guess with the question of how to fight trolls, the answer is simple. You don’t. A blog entry on Tumblr says it best (http://paigeycosplay.tumblr.com/post/26497409419/handling-criticism-and-trolling-as-a-cosplayer): You just ignore it. Trolls are only seeking attention and any response is giving them what they want. But it goes beyond just responding or not responding. How do we handle ourselves after an attack? I’m saddened that I have friends who refuse to wear certain costumes again because they’re tired of the negative and hurtful commentary. The worst part is, it isn’t even on the quality of the construction or the costumes themselves, but on the costumer’s personal appearance or personality. How can we be so confident in wearing what we do, putting so much time, effort, and love into something, only to let the words of someone we’ve never met kill our joy? There are fantastic cosplayers out there who truly embody the characters they seek to bring to life. I have had the pleasure of meeting wonderful people out there who put heart and soul into costumes and character and I TRULY appreciate what they are able to do for the cosplay community. But does this mean that every person who wants to cosplay has to be in “cape shape?” Are we that closed-minded that if you don’t look spot on like the comic book or anime that you can’t cosplay that character?
I LOVE when I see someone who has done their own thing. They chosen a character to portray because they have a passion for them. Personally, I believe that you should be able to cosplay whomever you want – regardless of race, gender, or personal appearance/physique. Just because your skin isn’t the same color as the character you love, doesn’t mean you cannot be them. Or you don’t have the same shape. Or you’re not the right gender. SO FREAKIN’ WHAT??? We do what we do because we love it. If we chose to shy away from our passion just because we were afraid of what someone else was going to say, none of us would ever try anything. Are you a white girl who loves Storm? Cosplay her! Are you a dude who thinks Rogue is the hottest thing since sliced bread? Cosplay her however you want. This shouldn’t be a popularity contest or about who looks better than who. I portray one of the most OVERLY cosplay characters ever when I put on my classic Ivy, but I get excited when I see other Ivy cosplayers because I see that there is someone out there who loves the character as much as I do.So how do we handle ourselves after an attack? We go to the people who matter most: our friends and our cosplay community. Don’t let the words of an anonymous jerk mean more to you than the people who would fight for you. You wear what you want, you wear what you feel comfortable in, wear what you can afford and BE PROUD OF IT!!!I’m tagging cosplayer friends whose costumes I love and appreciate because I know how hard you work on what you do! If you want to tag more people (or untag yourself, it’s cool), or I forgot you (I’m sorry!!!), do it!!! It’s up to us to remind each other that for every ugly comment made by someone who has no clue what we’ve gone through, there are a thousand more of us that appreciate and LOVE what we do. We have to keep a positive community!
By: Lucid Cosplay